The Del Amo waste site in Torrance, California has waste which has volatile contaminants such as benzene, ethylbenzene and aromatic hydrocarbons. It also has polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as chrysene, phenanthrene and naphthalene. These are toxic substances. Benzene causes certain types of cancer such as bladder, lung, skin and gastrointestinal cancers. The superfund is very hazardous because benzene is mostly detected at the greatest concentrations.

A synthetic rubber manufacturing plant used to occupy the 280 hectares that is now the Del Amo waste site. It operated from 1942 until early 1970s. The facility consisted of three plants which were leased to multiple companies until 1955. The Shell Chemical Company bought the plants in 1955 and continued operations independently.

Past and ongoing remediation strategies include installation of surface water controls, fencing, establishment of a soil vapor extraction and remediation facility, and capping of the waste area. Contaminated waste material and soil from up to 24 meters depth was extracted from one waste pit between 1982 and 1984. The excavated area was filled with clean soil. Clean up is ongoing. There are plans to release volatile organic compounds into the air. Still, more work needs to be done. For example, deep underground water contaminants need to be dispersed. 5 million dollars so far has been spent on cleanup initiatives.

Garrett Hardin’s view that the current problems in the world cannot be solved in a technical way has been proven true.  Most of the environmental problems we have cannot be solved by techniques of natural sciences alone. Human values and ideas of morality need to change. The environmental problem that comes to mind as I read the article is pollution. A critical review of the article confirms our unconscious belief that production activities benefit individuals but leads to negative consequences that affect all. The article convinces me that environmental conservation requires mutual coercion, since individual entities are not willing to assume responsibility for environmental conservation.

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