Chiquita Canyon Landfill issues response on relocation demand  

A dozer pushes exposed trash at Chiquita Canyon Landfill. Dan Watson/ The Signal

Chiquita Canyon Landfill officials shared a letter this week in response to 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s call the previous week for the facility to help those impacted by the nauseating, headache-inducing odors that have been emanating from the landfill since April. 

Saying there’s “no predictable end in sight” for the situation last week, Barger, whose district includes the Santa Clarita Valley, issued a Feb. 8 letter that called on the landfill to offer relocation assistance to residents being impacted by the odors from the landfill. 

The landfill has drawn more than 7,000 complaints and 110 violations since the problems began about a year ago. 

A virtual community meeting held Thursday by Chiquita Canyon Landfill offered little detail about the program as officials from the landfill asked the residents for some time to figure things out.   

“It could take up to a month,” Steve Cassulo, general manager for the facility, said Thursday, referring to the time the company needs to set up its relocation-assistance program. 

“It will take a little bit of time,” he added, “but we’ll keep you informed and let you know the next steps.” 

There were no further details available during Thursday’s discussion, Cassulo said in response to questions about whom the help would be for and how much would be available.  

In a response letter shared ahead of a virtual meeting planned by the landfill for 6 p.m. Thursday, the landfill said it will discuss details about the program at the meeting.  

Video from a discussion Tuesday at the Chiquita Canyon Landfill Community Advisory Committee meeting was not yet available online as of Thursday evening. 

“Chiquita is preparing a community relief program, which will include relocation assistance to impacted individuals and other forms of relief to others also affected by the ongoing landfill reaction,” according to the company’s statement, with details to be shared at a series of public meetings. 

“The program will go beyond relocation assistance to include other expenses, including utility bills and home improvements or air filtration devices designed to address odor impacts,” the letter stated. 

Cassulo said Thursday that John Perkey, vice president of Waste Connections, which owns Chiquita Canyon Landfill, was still working on the details of the program with staff. He also said the facility has been making progress on putting an 80 millimeter-thick cover over the problematic areas.  

Residents have expressed frustration over the time it’s taken to address the smell, with some saying the county’s call for action has taken so long they wonder if anything will be done. 

The landfill listed several mitigation measures, but by its own admission, it still has significant drilling to do in the coming months before it can expect the smell to improve. 

The landfill conducted a preliminary root-cause analysis on issues the landfill started to notice in February 2023, according to documents shared on the landfill’s website. The landfill noticed its leachate problems as early as April, but South Coast Air Quality Management District regulators were only made aware of them from another regulator at an interagency meeting in October, according to AQMD officials

Barger issued the following statement in response to the letter in an email from Helen Chavez, a spokeswoman for her office:  

“I share the community’s frustration. Their concerns are legitimate and must be addressed by the proprietors of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill — and I’m heartened to hear that they intend to do so. But there are a lot of details that need to be worked out as quickly as possible. The relocation and community relief programs should be responsive to the community’s needs and transparency should be the rule of thumb. I will remain vigilant to make sure both of those conditions are met.” 

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