County announces meeting over health impacts for Chiquita Canyon  

Supervising AQMD Inspector Larry Israel shares a photo of a leachate geyser that occurred while he was inspecting Chiquita Canyon with an EPA official. The text was the accompanying question asked by the AQMD official. Israel's answer was an emphatic no. Courtesy photo
Supervising AQMD Inspector Larry Israel shares a photo of a leachate geyser that occurred while he was inspecting Chiquita Canyon with an EPA official. The text was the accompanying question asked by the AQMD official. Israel's answer was an emphatic no. Courtesy photo


The L.A. County Department of Public Health announced a public meeting Wednesday regarding the pending release of its report on the potential health impacts of Chiquita Canyon Landfill for Castaic and Val Verde residents.  

“Review of Independent Health Risk Evaluation of the Community Air Quality Impact from Chiquita Canyon Landfill” is expected to take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Dianne G. Van Hook University Center at College of the Canyons in Valencia. 

The landfill has had a host of problems resulting in thousands of complaints, more than 100 noticed violations from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, multiple lawsuits, federal involvement from the EPA, and most recently, orders that the landfill provide a website with 24-hour real-time monitoring for air quality concerns, as well as seven-day-a-week leachate removal. 

Officials, who have been studying the problem for several months at this point, have described the landfill’s problem as stemming from a smoldering, subsurface reaction caused by an older section of the landfill mismanaged by previous operators. 

The combination of that and the historic rains last winter exponentially increased the reactions that normally take place at a landfill, which created more smelly, sulfuric landfill gas than the facility’s air-cleaning and water-collection systems could handle. 

The smell, which has grown in scope for nearly a year, is expected to stay bad for at least a few more months as new wells are drilled into the smelly trash, which is meant to improve both the air and water collection systems in the long term and address the problems. 

But residents, who have filed several actions in court against the landfill, still want to know the health impacts, related to both the air and water. 

The meeting is being held on the Valencia campus to make the information more accessible, according to a representative for 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley on the county Board of Supervisors. The room’s capacity is significantly larger than the library room where previous meetings have been held. 

“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will host a community meeting to share the findings from an independent health risk evaluation of the short- and potential long-term health impacts to nearby residents from exposure to landfill gases created by the odor incident at Chiquita Canyon Landfill,” according to an email statement from Becky Schlikerman, director of external communications for the L.A. County Department of Public Health. “The independent health risk evaluation was conducted by Roux Associates on behalf of Los Angeles County to address the community concern about the potential health effects of odors and exposure to landfill gas emissions.” 

The meeting is also expected to include a presentation by Adam Love followed by a question-and-answer session, according to officials.  

“Los Angeles County departments are working collectively to help support residents in the areas of Val Verde, Live Oak and Hasley Hills who are experiencing strong odors emanating from the Chiquita Canyon Landfill,” according to a post online from the county’s Planning Department that announced the meeting. “While experts work to address issues around the cause of the odors, county departments are engaged with the communities to provide information and build a transparent, collaborative and equitable approach to understanding the incident.”  

Based on the title of the meeting, it’s possible that the leachate and water table concerns require additional study to know the full extent of the problem. 

The leachate problem, while it was known to the landfill as early as April, was reported to the AQMD by another agency in October, and even then, the landfill initially did not allow the air quality inspectors on to the property, according to sworn testimony from a two-day hearing last month.  

Accordingly, it’s not known how much, if at all, the leachate concerns will be discussed in the report.  

While the smell has been known for months, the lack of information available about the leachate and possible other chemical concerns are what resulted in the landfill receiving increased orders at the January meeting of the South Coast AQMD Hearing Board. 

County officials did not mention any specifics regarding the discussion other than to say it would be led by Love, who has been hired by the county for an independent analysis of the health concerns. 

No agenda has been posted for the community meeting, which is also accessible on Zoom, here:

The first lawsuit filed against the landfill was brought by resident and Town Council member, Oshea Orchid, which has grown to more than 200 plaintiffs and lists L.A. County as a codefendant. 

The most recent action was filed by DTLA Law Group, which is representing “a mass torts lawsuit against Chiquita Canyon Landfill and Sunshine Canyon Landfill. The lawsuits aim to address the adverse effects on our community’s quality of life and property values caused by the activities of these landfills,” according to the firm. 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS