Officials with Chiquita Canyon Landfill discussed a timeline for making its smell a little less of a problem Thursday at a community Zoom meeting to update residents on what’s going on with the smell that’s drawn thousands of complaints from Val Verde and Castaic.
Landfill officials said Nov. 10 or 11 was the deadline given by the South Coast Air Quality Management District as a condition of its permission to operate a third flare on the site.
“We plan to get it up and running sooner than that,” Steve Cassulo, district manager for Waste Connections, which owns the landfill, said Thursday during the Zoom.
“We are going to be turning the system on as quickly as possible. Obviously we think that the reduction of the odors coming from the landfill will happen, not quite immediately, but within the first few days we’re going to get a good reaction,” he said.
“We’re going to get a good indication of how we’re going to be able to reduce and what we’re going to remove,” he said.
The landfill also shared a report produced by officials with CTEH, a Little Rock, Arkansas-based environmental consulting firm with a specialty in toxicology, hired by Chiquita Canyon to review data from another Chiquita consultant, SCS Engineering, which is conducting the air sampling around the landfill.
The report, which contained about 80 pages of air sampling reports that one CTEH official acknowledged was a bit of a “data dump,” included data for testing that stretched back to “early August” when SCS expanded its air-testing capabilities to include volatile organic compounds and dimethyl sulfide, which has been one of the main gases discussed and believed to be the likely landfill gas, or lfg, responsible for a sulfuric stench that affected residents have likened to rotting garbage.
CTEH officials said the data, which included “thousands of analytes” from the samples SCS collected, showed “no evidence of increased health risk to the community” in August, when AQMD officials issued 28 violations over the smell in 31 days.
One of the questions by a resident identified as George mentioned a concern about the report’s data, as well as pointing out an observation about the odor that’s been repeatedly mentioned: Residents really need to know where the monitoring is being conducted because the smell hits different areas and is much worse at certain times than others.
As an example, during previous interviews with residents in Val Verde who live within a few blocks of the landfill, several noted the smell can sometimes be detected in a backyard, and not a front yard, and other times it can permeate an entire house. Others noted they can be walking down the street and not smell it, and then a gust of wind can make the smell so intense they feel nauseous.
Both CTEH and SCS Engineering recognized the need for more clarity in that respect, and noted that in future reports they’d try to clarify the collection points with their locations. A map of the monitoring stations was provided in CTEH’s report, which was also filed with L.A. County Public Health.
Castaic residents will have another chance to discuss the results of the report 6 p.m. Tuesday, when the Chiquita Canyon Community Advisory Committee convenes its monthly meeting at the Castaic Library.
There was little discussion of a grant program announced earlier in the week, other than to say about $2 million is expected to be released by a third-party company hired to distribute the grants.
“The Chiquita Canyon Landfill Utility Relief Grant Program will reimburse residents of Val Verde, Castaic, and surrounding communities for their electric utility expenses incurred between May 1, 2023, through Oct. 31, 2023,” according to a statement from Supervisor Kathryn Barger earlier this week announcing the grants of up to $2,000.
The landfill has information about the grants available at its website, ChiquitaCanyonLandfillRelief.lacda.org. The deadline to file is Oct. 31.
Castaic Library is located at 27971 Sloan Canyon Road.