Maywood, Calif., residents Minerva Ayala and her son Alexis play by a monitoring well near a Superfund site that regulators have declared safe. City officials still worry about long-term exposure to contaminants. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
Maywood is California's most densely populated community. It sits at the crossroads of an American manufacturing and freight hauling juggernaut with a legacy of industrial pollution. Nearly 50,000 residents are squeezed into aging apartment blocks and tidy tract houses between diesel-truck-clogged Interstate 710 and 'exclusively industrial' Vernon, home to 1,200 factories and sprawling freight rail yards. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
Jesus Padilla and his wife Francisca display discolored water that flowed from their tap. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
Sergio Palos, general manager of one of Maywood's water companies, says that levels of manganese, responsible for much of the discoloration (and for corroded pipes) easily test as safe. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
Felipe Aguirre, Maywood's former mayor, was a leading community organizer in the one-square-mile city. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
Kenia Alcocer, an organizer for the Union of Neighbors community group, displays bottles of tap water brought to her by Maywood residents. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
Sergio Palos, manager of one of the city's water districts, conducts weekly tests. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
Weekly water tests are conducted by the city's water districts. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
A Maywood family walks past a working chemical plant adjacent to both a residential neighborhood and an elementary school. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
In a statement marking the fifth anniversary of Gross's detention earlier this month, Obama hinted that his release could lead to a thaw in relations with Cuba. Many are watching to see if this could lead to an end of the decades-long US economic embargo.
American Alan Gross has been released from a Cuban prison after five years, as part of an agreement that also includes the release of three Cubans jailed in the United States, senior U.S. officials said Wednesday.