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Castaic Landfill Causing Terrible Odors & Potential Health Issues

Castaic+Landfill+Causing+Terrible+Odors+%26+Potential+Health+Issues

​​​Chiquita Canyon Landfill puts Castaic residents at risk for health issues. Many of those living in Castaic have addressed their concerns, the landfill getting as many as 2,100 odor complaints (as of Sept. 7) and 60 notices of violations for public nuisance. Shouse Law Group defines a public nuisance as “anything which is, or likely to become, injurious or detrimental to health, safety or welfare, or is offensive to the senses.” Landfill claims to make changes in the near future as it is now faced with a recently opened lawsuit. 

The company who owns the landfill, Waste Connections Inc., lacks proper control over gasses and chemicals, which are causing widespread odors that can often last for hours at a time, and can be smelt on frequent occasions. “Smell is so bad to the point where you can’t even spend time in the evenings outside. I don’t like to go on walks after dinner or open the windows at night because of the strong sour waste smell,” says Castaic resident Lindsay Miller, “parents are concerned for the health of their kids…no answers received from the landfill.”

The landfill, built in 1972, has been receiving complaints for 7 years, mostly from Val Verde residents, who live nearest to the landfill. The other neighborhoods primarily affected are Hasley Hills, Hillcrest, and Live Oak.

South Coast Air Quality Hearing Board published a press release on Sept. 7 stating, “the landfill gas contained elevated levels of dimethyl sulfide which its gas treatment system is currently not designed to remove.” The Board investigated the landfill prior to the press release. Dimethyl sulfide, or DMS, is a compound consisting of sulfur. It’s often a byproduct of unprocessed natural gas, which is found in landfills. Reports and health experts find DMS to be harmful. An example of DMS’s health effects is of factory workers in 2003 being exposed to DMS for several hours, by a hose leak, were reported to have conjunctival injection (inflammation to eye blood vessels), watery eyes, and runny noses for several hours after the leak. 

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Many who live in Val Verde and the other neighborhoods within Castaic have noticed greater amounts of headaches, nausea, and drowsiness as a result of the odors. The National Library of Health reports that, “effects from prolonged low-level exposures to contaminated[by DMS] air that may not be evident immediately, but could manifest over time.” 

Another chemical emitted by the landfill responsible for health issues is hydrogen sulfide. Exposure through air can cause eye irritation and respiratory issues. Some recent studies even suggest exposure may lead to cancer, as scientists have observed hydrogen sulfide-producing enzymes in cancer cells, but it still remains unclear and controversial in medical research.

At Castatic High School, students were asked whether or not they often smell the odors from the landfill: 17/26 said they can smell garbage, gasses, or chemicals outside and near their house on some or frequent occasion. 

The reason for increased odors and toxic gas releases?- unidentified reactions happening in cell 2 (a cell being specific areas where the waste is dumped and compacted). The company is still trying to investigate and figure out what exactly it is and what is causing it. This reaction, which is believed to be happening underground, causes the area to get extremely hot. Great amounts of liquid have also contaminated the area. 

Both cause microorganisms, who decompose the material(mainly garbage remains), to die off or leave the area. Without these decomposing organisms in the landfill, the microbial activity that transforms carbon and sulfur into energy does not happen, and therefore great surpluses of carbon and sulfur are released into the air.

The reaction has also caused the ground beneath the landfill to begin caving in, sinking. Because of this, the land cracks, releasing more toxic and chemical-containing gas, adding to the poor atmospheric conditions.

Another cause of the excessive odors are from the Woolsey fire debris and Santa Susana toxic cleanup incidents that have brought in extra debris, including toxic and radioactive debris, and at times have overfilled the landfill. 

Some time during the last week of August, a class action lawsuit was filed, in hopes of finding and solving the root of the problem- the cause of the smell and excessive gas/chemicals. 

South Coastal AQHB also set the landfill a list of requirements it must follow, including monthly reports, using gas flares to minimize toxic gas in the atmosphere, expand the gas well system, and use odor minimizing techniques- to name a few. 

During recent meetings and reports, the landfill says that they are trying to fix the ongoing issues, but many speculate it will take months, if not years, to get the problem fully resolved. 

If you smell gas, trash, or chemicals outside your house, help encourage progress with the landfill issue by calling the Chiquita Canyon Landfill 24-hour hotline: (661) 253-5155 or to the South Coast Air Quality Management line: 1 (800) 288-7664; or they’re online website: http://www.aqmd.gov/ through the ‘Report a Complaint’ button.

 

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About the Contributor
Isabella Dasner
Isabella Dasner, Staff Writer
Isabella Dasner is a staff writer for Castaic’s weekly newspaper, The Daily Howl. She joined junior year hoping to expand her writing abilities and further connect with the Castaic community. She believes knowing about what's going on around you, especially within your school community, is important and she is thrilled to be able to provide that knowledge with her fellow CHS students. Among writing, Bella loves spending time outside, drawing, and woodcarving. 
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    Michael WDec 7, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    It’s incredible that we rely on student journalists to do the kind of reporting that our local professional press should be doing. Shame on the LA Daily News for putting this info behind a paywall. And thank you to the Daily Howl for your commitment to the public record.

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  • T

    Tim TOct 26, 2023 at 5:56 am

    Good comprehensive information. Good to see youth reporting this.

    Reply