Chiquita Canyon cited for lacking wells plan, leachate management plans 

A truck leaves Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Castaic on Tuesday. Dan Watson/ The Signal
A truck leaves Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Castaic on Tuesday. Dan Watson/ The Signal

Chiquita Canyon Landfill has received yet another notice over continued violations from the agencies regulating it, the latest coming Friday from the L.A. Regional Water Quality Control Board over the landfill’s failure to comply with orders issued in March.  

The landfill has plagued residents for over a year with its smells, caused by a subsurface reaction in an older section of the landfill happening at about 250 degrees. The reaction is producing nauseating landfill gases, known as dimethyl sulfide, and creating a leachate problem that could threaten the area’s water table, according to local officials.  

The landfill said it was still evaluating the violation but had disagreement with its claims.  

“Chiquita Canyon is evaluating this latest notice of violation and does not agree with the underlying allegations,” according to a statement emailed Tuesday afternoon by John Musella, spokesman for the landfill, on behalf of Chiquita Canyon. “The landfill continues to work cooperatively with their regulators to mitigate impacts that have resulted from the elevated temperature landfill event.” 

The latest violation made several claims to the contrary, based on plans submitted by the landfill in April as its ordered response to violations the water regulators found in March.  

“On March 20, 2024, pursuant to California Water Code … the Los Angeles Water Board directed Waste Connections Inc. and Chiquita Canyon LLC … to submit a technical report no later than April 22, 2024, for the investigation of potential surface water and groundwater impacts due to current conditions at the Chiquita Canyon Landfill,” according to the notice. 

“The discharger submitted a technical report including a workplan in response to the order on April 22, 2024. However, based on review of the submittal by Los Angeles Water Board staff, the discharger failed to fully comply with the requirements of the order.” 

The plans failed to include installing an offsite groundwater-monitoring well between the landfill’s southern border and the Santa Clara River, according to water officials. 

Residents angrily asked for such monitoring after a public meeting hosted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in March, over concerns that the leachate could be impacting the local water supply.  

SCV Water doubled down on those contamination concerns in April, sending a letter that also asked for the monitoring. 

The demands resulted in Chiquita Canyon Landfill being ordered to make plans for a monitoring well outside its borders, which it so far has not done, according to Friday’s violation. 

The landfill also violated orders to report storms that produce a discharge into the sedimentary basin, according to the L.A. Water Board.  

“The Los Angeles Water Board received only two 30-day reports for storms that produced a discharge into the sedimentation basins,” according to the violation. However, there were six other rainfalls between April and May that went unreported. 

Residents have raised questions about whether the landfill is exercising best practices for keeping the leachate from comingling with stormwater runoff that ultimately ends up back in the water table. The questions were raised in response to photos that showed pumping of the leachate from the landfill’s stormwater channels.  

The plans the landfill submitted in April failed to address the concerns adequately, leading to another violation.  

“The submittal … did not include documentation proving implementation and maintenance of best management practices that would prevent leachate commingling with stormwater runoff in onsite drainage channels, or drain inlets to the south sedimentation basin,” according to the L.A. Regional Water Quality Control Board. 

“The submittal only included the list of steps that the landfill will follow to prevent the commingling of leachate with stormwater runoff,” according to the Los Angeles Water Board. “These steps are useful but the documentation proving their implementation is necessary to comply with ordered item.” 

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