Sunshine Canyon audit due back to county next month 


An audit of the odor-mitigation efforts at Sunshine Canyon Landfill is due back to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in 30 days to determine a strategy for long-term mitigation. 

The board requested the audit via a motion co-authored by Supervisors Lindsey Horvath, 3rd District, and Kathryn Barger, 5th District, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley. 

Located along Interstate 5 and adjacent to the Newhall Pass, Sunshine Canyon, operated by Republic Services, is the largest landfill in the county by annual tonnage, according to a county news release. 

The audit comes after the South Coast Air Quality Management District received 163% more complaints in 2023 regarding the landfill than the previous year, and more than 60 odor-related violation notices were handed out by the AQMD. In the first quarter of this year, more than 670 complaints have come in and 26 violations have been issued. 

The motion directs the county departments of Public Works, Regional Planning and Public Health, all part of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill Technical Advisory Committee, to work together to do the following: 

  • Engage an independent technical expert to provide an assessment of the odor issues that occurred at the Sunshine Canyon Landfill between 2023 and 2024, a diagnostic of which remediation actions worked, and which did not, and recommendations for the near- and long-term operations of the landfill to ensure these odor issues are effectively addressed.  
  • Coordinate with the Sunshine Canyon Landfill Local Enforcement Agency and South Coast AQMD to seek the independent review and expert opinion of CalRecycle on lasting solutions to resolve odor issues.  
  • Report back to the board within 30 days with a strategy to procure this external technical review, ideally through an existing contracting mechanism where costs are borne by the landfill operator or state regulators.   
  • Report back to the board within 150 days, and before the start of the traditional rainy season, with the findings and recommended operational changes at Sunshine Canyon Landfill.  
  • Continue to regularly convene the Sunshine Canyon Inter-Agency Working Group until odor issues are resolved.   

“At its heart, this motion is about getting an objective assessment of how we can mitigate and eliminate the odors impacting the community surrounding Sunshine Canyon Landfill,” Barger said in a county news release. “This county is no stranger to having to help communities impacted by landfill odors emitted by these privately run facilities. In my experience, having an independent root cause analysis performed as quickly as possible is key. We need that information to both hold landfill proprietor accountable and involve relevant state agencies to monitor and make corrections as quickly as possible.” 

The release noted that “historic rains” over the past year have been viewed as a possible reason for the odors to be more pungent as of late. 

“Odor issues at Sunshine Canyon have persisted for too long with too little improvement,” Horvath said in the release. “Los Angeles County is calling for an independent study to hold the operator accountable for making the changes the residents deserve, and that make this site resilient to the new normal of intense storms made worse by climate change.” 

The issues that Sunshine Canyon has been experiencing are similar in nature to what the Chiquita Canyon Landfill has been experiencing for more than a year. Recently, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board found Chiquita to be in violation of 11 terms of the 2010 stormwater-discharge permit under which the facility is operating. 

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, recently called for Chiquita to be shut down in order to allow the facility to address its growing problems. Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, has requested that Gov. Gavin Newsom declare a state of emergency related to the landfill.  

Barger has also called for state agencies to consider revoking the landfill’s permits, rather than the county acting to unilaterally close it down.   

A civil lawsuit filed in L.A. County Superior Court is calling for the landfill to be shut down via a preliminary injunction. Citizens for Chiquita Canyon Closure has named the landfill and the county as defendants in the case, which has a case management conference, where the parties meet with the judge to discuss how to handle the case and what it would take to settle the case before a trial, scheduled for Friday. 

Also listed as a “party of interest” is Waste Connections, the Texas-based company that owns, operates and manages Chiquita Canyon.  

The case management conference is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Friday in Department 82 at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown L.A. 

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