Castaic school district looking to expand on landfill concerns 

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The Castaic Union School District governing board last week chose to table a resolution that would have signaled the district’s stance on the odor issues stemming from the Chiquita Canyon Landfill. 

According to Superintendent Bob Brauneisen, the district is still looking to release something in the future, but needs additional information to be added to make it more complete after the federal Environmental Protection Agency came out earlier this month with additional violations and reported that the landfill may or may not be causing “excess emissions of hydrogen sulfide, volatile hazardous air pollutants (‘VHAP’), and volatile organic compounds.” 

“In light of the recent report of the EPA, we need to address the potential health impacts from excess emissions of the hydrogen sulfide, which we addressed,” Brauneisen said. “That’s the H2S that really causes a lot of odors. But what I do believe we need to look at are the VHAPs, which is the volatile hazardous air pollutants, and the volatile organic compounds, the VOCs.” 

The side effects listed from those pollutants range from respiratory challenges to damage to the nervous system and even cancer, as residents wait for more comprehensive answers to the health questions posed by the landfill’s numerous violations. The facility is garnering approximately 2,000 complaints each month.   

The district had previously established safety measures for when students are in school. Carbon HVAC filters and air purifiers have been installed in each classroom, and students are able to remain inside at all times, with adult supervision, according to Brauneisen. 

An updated resolution is expected to be presented to the board at its next meeting on June 27, or July 11, if necessary. 

Board member Fred Malcomb said he wants the district to be careful with the data that it is using to make its claims. 

“I would just be worried about that, because I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist,” Malcomb said. 

Brauneisen said the idea is to be as generic as possible. 

“I think we can be generic enough to say that we’re concerned about these without getting into evidence or data that we’re not experts in,” Brauneisen said. “So, at no point do I want us to express other people’s data, but we are going to express our concern beyond just odors. I think odors make it sound too singular. And I know that our community or our families are concerned with more than just odors.” 

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