California Lagged in Capping Century-old Oil Wells Leaking Under Homes of LA Residents Plagued by Illness and Odors | DeSmog
That same year, Morales’ mother, who had no family history of cancer, was diagnosed with breast cancer and passed away. Within four months, two other residents who had lived most of their adult lives on Firmin Street died as well — one of a rare cancer and the other of an aneurism.
The residents of Vista Hermosa would later discover that the foul odors they were smelling were indeed linked to leakages from the abandoned wells. Specifically, the “rotten egg” smell is associated with hydrogen sulfide, a highly toxic gas common in deteriorating oil wells. Hydrogen sulfide and hydrocarbons from oil wells present serious short-term and long-term health effects.
“As soon as you start smelling hydrogen sulfide, you should run for your life. It’s a deadly gas,” said petroleum geologist Dr. George Chilingar. “Hydrogen sulfide, even in small quantities, can be toxic to human health.”
According to DOGGR’s 2018 records, 854 wells currently sit idle on the four-mile stretch of the Los Angeles City Oil Field. Of those, 16 lie under the properties on Firmin Street.