In response to residents’ concerns about smells emanating from Chiquita Canyon Landfill, county officials have directed the property’s managing company, Waste Connections, to install “top quality deodorizers” and formed the L.A. County Chiquita Canyon Landfill Task Force.
A July 28 letter from L.A. County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger states her office is “well aware of the community complaints and concerns about the intensified odors from the Chiquita Canyon Landfill.”
Located in Castaic about 3 miles west of Interstate 5 off Highway 126, the landfill has been in continuous operation for about 40 years, according to its website.
The operators issued a statement to The Signal Wednesday through a spokesman in response to the letter and cited the mitigation efforts already underway listed on the landfill’s website.
“Chiquita Canyon Landfill is working as quickly as possible to correct any odor issues our local residents are experiencing,” according to the statement sent via email. “We share the county’s sense of urgency in addressing this odor issue and the underlying causes and addressing the community’s concern. In addition to quickly implementing a variety of odor mitigation measures on top of the measures that Chiquita has maintained on a regular basis, Chiquita has been working diligently with the landfill’s various regulatory oversight agencies to secure the necessary permits and approvals in order to immediately begin the construction of an additional landfill gas flare, which our engineers believe will ultimately correct these issues.”
The statement also said, per Barger’s direction, Chiquita would be making air-filtration resources available to landfill neighbors who may be experiencing odors.
The information on the website acknowledges the increase in complaints that have been filed to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the federal agency that provides oversight for air pollution and mitigation efforts.
“Chiquita understands that its neighbors have been submitting complaints of odors to the South Coast AQMD,” according to a statement on the company’s website. “If the Chiquita Canyon Landfill is the source of these alleged odors, then Chiquita believes that they are most likely due to an increase in the production of LFG (landfill gas) at the landfill. Chiquita believes this increase in LFG production is due to an abnormal biotic or abiotic process (also known as a landfill reaction) taking place within a portion of the landfill waste mass.”
The smell is not being caused by any burning, the statement continues, but rather higher-than-normal levels of dimethyl sulfide, a smelly byproduct from the decomposition of plant matter taking place at the landfill.
The statement did not discuss the timing behind the seemingly sudden increase in the smell reported lately from the processing of landfill gas, or LFG. However, the Chiquita Canyon website states the company is working with the AQMD for permission to use a “new LFG flare” that would allow the facility to process more of the LFG and therefore reduce the smell.
A timeline for the implementation was not immediately available.
County officials on the task force include representatives of county Public Works, Public Health, Department of Regional Planning and the Office of Emergency Services.
Helen Chavez, Barger’s director of communications, said the task force’s first meeting was about coordinating lines of communication and response for the incident, noting the county has had experience dealing with similar landfill concerns in other parts of the district, including deodorizers, and that equipment was available as a result.
She added that Chiquita Canyon would be taking the point on community outreach.
Additional mitigation measures mentioned by the landfill officials included “using orchard fans and tow-and-blow fans placed and spaced in accordance with the recommendations of Chiquita’s landfill operations expert”; using multiple types of equipment equipped with odor neutralizer misting systems in various portions of the landfill; permanent fencing along the west and northwest of the property; and three-arm tower misters placed in front of the fans, as well as odor surveillance.
Drew Chambers, a member of the Castaic Area Town Council, said, speaking as a resident and not on behalf of the council, he could sometimes get a whiff from the landfill, sometimes at night, where he lives in the Live Oak tract not far from the elementary school — a home about a mile or two from the landfill as the crow flies, he said.
“I know Val Verde residents can smell it worse,” he added.
The Town Council, L.A. County and the landfill are conducting outreach about an upcoming Zoom webinar from the surrounding community, and Chambers said the Town Council also would continue to monitor the situation.
Castaic Area Town Council President Bob Lewis was not immediately available Wednesday afternoon.
The webinar is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 10 and the link where residents can watch via Zoom is bit.ly/ChiquitaCanyonTalk.