Bad odor concern prompts action

A bulldozer pushes exposed trash at Chiquita Canyon Landfill in this Signal file photo by Dan Watson.

Members of an advisory committee representing Val Verde residents concerned about odors emitted from the nearby Chiquita Canyon Landfill say they need more time to review the landfill’s report to the county about its impact on the community.

Members of the Val Verde Community Advisory Committee voted Monday night to send a letter to the Los Angeles County Department of Supervisors and the county’s Department of Regional Planning requesting Val Verde residents be given 120 days to review Chiquita’s Draft Environmental Impact Review.

The company is expected to file an amended EIR in order to obtain a conditional use permit from the county. That happens in January.

Citizens Monday said 60 days does not allow sufficient time for citizens to review the company’s report.

Monday’s hastily called meeting in Valencia was called due to the alleged foul-smelling odors  adversely affecting the quality of air in Val Verde west of Castaic.

“We live a mile and a half from the landfill and we smelled it really strong in September,” Val Verde resident Tanya Houser told the committee.  “We were very affected that day.”

Steve Cassulo, district manager for Waste Connections, Inc., at the Chiquita Canyon Landfill, attended Monday’s meeting and answered each question put to him by citizens and committee members.

When Houser asked: “How are you able to take care of the smells when you (Chiquita) is going to expand?”

Cassulo told her: “The answer, simply, is the best we can.”

Longtime Val Verde resident Paul Simmonds, who said he negotiated landfill issues years ago on behalf of Val Verde residents, challenged the company’s “trust and integrity” with regards to is compliance with existing contractual commitments.

“We’ve done everything legally,” Cassulo replied. “The county holds our permits. The county makes the decisions.  I don’t think our agreement was violated.”

Cassulo said he understands that citizens and committee members see things differently.

“In our permit, we can expand the landfill if needed,” he said. “And, at this point in time, it’s needed.”

Val Verde resident Jeremiah Dockery called a 60-day public comment period “ill timed.”

“Sixty days is not enough time,” he said, citing the initial 60-day period as being held during an election over the holidays.

The committee is expected to ask county officials for a 120-day time extension or until Apr. 9, 2017.

One specific odor issue addressed Monday by the committee was the emission of methane from the landfill.

Committee members voted to obtain equipment that would monitor and measure air quality in Val Verde for methane and to hire a company that would calibrate the monitors according to safety standards.

Members learned that handheld methane monitors had been used by participating Val Verde residents in four or five homes.

Simmonds, however, compared those monitors to smoke detectors.

“Those are like fire alarms that tell you there’s a fire when there’s already a fire,” he said, calling the procedure reactive.

Simmonds suggested the committee be “proactive” and obtain machines that would measure methane as “it falls, rises and spikes.”

The committee agreed.
Waste Connections received its conditional-use permit in November 2000 when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors allowed it to continue operating as a waste disposal site.

Landfill gas is generated through the degradation of solid waste, broken down by microorganisms.

The quality of the gas depends on the content of the waste.

Many factors affect the quality of landfill gas including: composition of the waste, the presence of oxygen, temperature, the layout of the land and the amount of time waste sits at the site.

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