Exxon Helps Home Owners After Toxic Chemicals Found in Soil

Exxon Mobil Corp. is offering financial assistance to the owners of 19 homes near its Torrance refinery because toxic chemicals have been found in the soil.

Company officials told residents at a meeting Thursday night that it is offering to buy 10 homes and giving so-called price protection on nine others. Refinery spokeswoman Carolin Keith says that means that if the home sells for less than market value, the company will pay homeowners the difference.

Cancer-causing benzene has been found in neighborhood soil, as has methane. But state officials said the level of contamination is very low and poses no health threat.

More than 200 soil probes have been installed to monitor gas levels in the neighborhood as the source of the vapors is sought.