U.S. Inspectors Find Numerous Health Violations at Desert Trailer Parks

David Kelly, Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2007

A federal inspection of three large trailer parks on the Torres Martinez reservation in Riverside County has found numerous health and safety violations, including faulty electrical systems and open sewage that threaten the health of park residents.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Indian Affairs did the inspections last August at Oasis Mobile Home Park, D & D Mobile Home Park and an unnamed park adjacent to Oasis.

Although the full report will be released next week, officials said Thursday that they found failing electrical and septic systems, unfenced sewage ponds, arsenic in the drinking water and inadequate fire protection.

The three parks, owned by members of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian tribe near Thermal, house thousands of low-wage farmworkers and because they sit on Indian land do not have to comply with local and state health and building codes.

At D & D park, located across from Oasis Elementary School and owned by Richard Dominguez and Ron Davis, inspectors found sewage running from a pipe into an open field, posing a hazard to children in the park and at the school, the EPA said.

At the unnamed park run by Robin Lawson, the septic tanks and parts of the electrical system are on the verge of failing, officials said.

The EPA and the BIA say the situation is so bad they have ordered D & D and Lawson to fix the sewage and electrical problems within five days.

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The owners were told to install more fire hydrants, remove flammable structures, post evacuation plans, correct electrical and sewage deficiencies and ensure connections to propane tanks were properly attached.

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