South Los Angeles residents fuming over oil field

The South Coast Air Quality Management District's top brass faced a frustrated crowd at a town hall meeting Wednesday, during which more than 100 South Los Angeles residents criticized the agency's inability to say whether fumes from an oil field are hazardous.

Some of those gathered in an auditorium at the Doheny Campus of Mount St. Mary's College cradled Styrofoam model heads pierced with sewing needles or bound in rope to demonstrate ailments they believe are linked to the oil pumping operation: dizziness, chronic fatigue, severe headaches and nose bleeds.

Barry Wallerstein, the agency's executive director, assured the crowd that air samples taken on the land Allenco Energy Co. leases from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles have not shown dangerous levels of toxic substances.

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