Castaic school district’s stance on landfill to be discussed 

Castaic Union School District Building. Dan Watson/The Signal
Castaic Union School District Building. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Castaic Union School District on Thursday could officially take a stance against the Chiquita Canyon Landfill after more than a year of residents complaining about the odors emanating from the facility. 

The governing board was set last month to approve a resolution that would signal the district’s concerns, but Superintendent Bob Brauneisen said it was incomplete and lacked new information after additional violations came to light in the days before the meeting. Those findings came from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. 

“In light of the recent report of the EPA,” Brauneisen said, “we need to address the potential health impacts from excess emissions of the hydrogen sulfide, which we addressed. 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 resolution being presented to the board on Thursday includes the findings from the federal EPA, which show that the violations “have caused or can cause excess emissions of hydrogen sulfide, volatile hazardous air pollutants (‘VHAP’), and volatile organic compounds (‘VOC’) including methane; and that excess emissions of hydrogen sulfide (‘H2S’), volatile hazardous air pollutants (‘VHAP’), and volatile organic compounds (‘VOC’) have been identified near the landfill.” 

Hydrogen sulfide, according to EPA data in the resolution, “can lead to irritation, headaches, nausea and respiratory stress, and that hydrogen sulfide also significantly contributes to local odor nuisances reducing surrounding quality of life,” while VOCs and methane contribute to ground-level ozone formation. Breathing ozone “contributes to a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion … can worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma … (and) ground-level ozone can also reduce lung function and inflame lung tissue.” 

Repeated exposure to ozone could potentially lead to permanent lung tissue damage, the resolution added. 

Meanwhile, VHAP emissions are liable to lead to “cancer, respiratory irritation and damage to the nervous system.” 

The previous resolution that was tabled did not have those findings. The focus then was on the concerns from the Castaic district’s community and the “right to clean air and a safe living, learning and working environment,” among other concerns. 

A task force involving federal, state, regional and local agencies has been formed in an effort to find the root of the issues stemming from the landfill. The school board is set to signal to that task force, and the operators of the landfill, owned by Texas-based Waste Connections Inc., that it is critical to “work expeditiously to determine, coordinate and implement specific actions to address and resolve the community concerns.” 

Thursday’s Castaic district meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. at its administrative office located at 28131 Livingston Ave. 

Before that, there is a Chiquita Canyon Landfill Community Advisory Committee meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Castaic Library, located at 27971 Sloan Canyon Road. To attend that meeting virtually, visit

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