Chiquita Canyon community group to host meeting Tuesday 

A compactor rolls over the exposed trash at a 200 x 200 foot "working face" site at the Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Castaic in 2014. As soon as the the trash is spread and compacted it is immediately covered with dirt and the working face site moves forward. This view looks south-west towards the new proposed expansion site, and In the distance is the tall ridge which blocks the land fill from view of surrounding communities. Dan Watson/Signal

The Chiquita Canyon Community Advisory Committee is hosting a meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday to provide an update on the landfill’s problems and the efforts involved to lessen the odors responsible for more than 2,000 complaints this year from residents. 

The agenda for the meeting, which follows a series of orders issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District from an hourslong hearing Wednesday, calls for a community update on the landfill, which is now the subject of a pair of task forces that are seeking to figure out how to stop the odious sulfur-based landfill gases. 

Community meeting 

“It’s a combination of keeping the community in the loop of what is currently happening, and try to get answers of, ‘Here’s what you’re doing, what is the timeline for what you’re doing?’” said Bob Lewis, chair of the Community Advisory Committee.  

He added that there would be various representatives from the task force 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger convened in July in response to widespread community complaints about the landfill’s smell. 

Lewis also noted there are a lot of agencies working to address the issue now, and for the benefit of residents who are looking for information on the various impacts the landfill is having, whether the need is financial, medical or informational, who would be the specific contact. 

He noted there’s a lot of information on the Chiquita Canyon Landfill website, but a centralized sheet with the various points of contact might make things a bit easier, which is something he wanted to discuss.  

He also mentioned questions about the community funds that were established in the terms of the landfill’s 2017 approval, which notes several community funds promising potential benefits to both parks and roads. Terms No. 19, as well as 114 through 125 in the landfill’s conditional use permit, discuss a series of fees the landfill is required to pay as conditions of approval. 

The fees  

In answering a question about one of the community funds, Steve Cassulo, the district manager for Chiquita Canyon Landfill, said in a Zoom call with the public that none of the community benefit funds had been released pending a lawsuit. That apparently has since changed, but questions remain.  

Lewis said he had questions based on how the terms of the settlement of one of the lawsuits Chiquita faces could impact the distribution of the funds that he wanted to discuss. The county’s planning documents for Chiquita Canyon Landfill available online Thursday share the link to a 201-page document labeled Oct. 11, 2022 Settlement Agreement.  

That lawsuit is unrelated to a separate lawsuit filed Aug. 25 by more than two dozen residents seeking to shut the landfill down. 

For the first seven years of the landfill’s renewal, from 2017 to 2024, the yearly maximum tonnage allowed is 2.8 million, according to page 140 of the landfill’s 2017 CUP.  

A Natural Habitat and Park Development Fund is expected to receive 50 cents per ton collected and the same is expected to go into a Traffic Mitigation and Enhancement Fee for road improvements.   

The county’s most recent action on the landfill was to release up to $2 million from a community benefit fund from the landfill to support residents who had incurred costs due to problems associated with the landfill, such as increased power bills from running their air conditioners to reduce the smell. 

A county official confirmed last week the community funds being released had approximately $4 million in the account, but some of that is being set aside for other costs. 

Barger asked the landfill on Sept. 1 to reduce its daily tonnage accepted by about 35% as a way to try to reduce the landfill’s smell. 

AQMD orders  

During a hearing Wednesday, the AQMD ordered a number of immediate actions, which it also reported in a news release Thursday.  

A status hearing to follow up on the landfill’s progress is expected to happen by Jan. 16 or as soon after that date that it can be scheduled with the hearing board, according to the agency’s release. 

The explicit orders from the AQMD effective immediately require Chiquita Canyon to: 

  • Conduct odor surveillance at least twice daily during operating hours at 32 locations around the landfill until a three-week period passes without receiving a notice of violation. If South Coast AQMD issues a subsequent NOV, odor surveillance would resume. 
  • Maximize the use of specified landfill gas flares for combustion of landfill gases, with requirements to sample, analyze, record and report compounds combusted in each flare. 
  • Submit a monthly written report on the landfill operation, landfill gas flares and treatment system and efforts to resolve the total sulfur concentration in the landfill gas. 
  • Organize a committee of experts to investigate and find the cause and solution to the subsurface chemical reaction causing the elevated levels of sulfur and report to South Coast AQMD detailing the findings by April 30, 2024. 
  • Expand its gas well system and continue to evaluate and install extraction wells to collect both landfill gas and leachate and monitor each gas collection system at least monthly for temperature. 
  • Visually inspect the landfill cover each operating day and make needed repairs, and install a geosynthetic cover to limit the migration of landfill gas from the site. 
  • Maintain and update on a weekly basis an odor mitigation section on its website at, including Spanish translation. 

The Chiquita Canyon Landfill Community Advisory Group meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Castaic Library, 27971 Sloan Canyon Road, in Castaic. 

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