UPDATE: The board approved the motion Tuesday, directing county staff to investigate the complaints of odors emanating from the Chiquita Canyon Landfill. Scroll down for Chiquita’s response.
The Board of Supervisors will consider a motion Tuesday by 5th District Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich to investigate ongoing complaints of odors emanating from the Chiquita Canyon Landfill.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District has received 107 complaints about the landfill this year and 233 complaints last year, according to Antonovich’s motion. The AQMD has issued the landfill one notice “for violating health and air quality codes that prohibit public nuisance.”
Following the issuance of the notice, Antonovich’s motion states, “the Department of Public Works has worked closely with the operator in an effort to control and reduce odors from the landfill.”
“However,” the motion states, “the community continues to report landfill odors to this day.”
Consideration of the motion is expected to follow a report from the county’s interim director of public health and the director of regional planning on a similar investigation into Sunshine Canyon Landfill that was made Oct. 4.
“It is important that the county investigate these complaints and review the conditional use permit for the landfill and identify any and all conditions of approval and enforcement tools to eliminate landfill odors migrating beyond the property boundary and impacting the community of Val Verde,” according to the motion.
If the motion is approved, the county’s departments of regional planning, public works and public health will need to report back to the Board of Supervisors in 30 days with their findings.
Chiquita Canyon Landfill is operating under a conditional use permit issued in the late 1990s. The facility reached its approved capacity earlier this year and was issued a waiver by the county planning director so it could continue operating until a new permit can work its way through the approval process.
Supervisor Antonovich released the following statement after Tuesday’s meeting:
In light of public odor complaints and air quality violation notices, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich calling for a comprehensive investigation into the Sunshine Canyon and Chiquita Canyon landfills, their Conditional Use Permits and available enforcement tools to mitigate the landfill emissions that are negatively impacting residents living in surrounding communities.
In November, 2008, the Sunshine Canyon landfill began to generate odor complaints from residents in Granada Hills and Sylmar – which resulted in the Supervisor requesting that AQMD investigate the complaints and ultimately issue multiple Notices of Violation. Supervisor Antonovich also expedited permits for the landfill’s gas-to-energy facility hoping it would reduce odors, but it had a minimal impact. The Supervisor also worked with the Department of Public Works to approve a new synthetic daily cover hoping it would reduce odors, but that failed too.
“The landfill operator has had more than ample opportunity to correct this odor problem. This has been going on for years now and every device or technique they propose to solve the odor problem fails,” said Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
Supervisor Antonovich has also heard from residents in Val Verde that the Chiquita Canyon Landfill is emitting noxious odors as well. The Supervisor directed the Department of Public Health, in consultation with County Counsel and the Departments of Public Works and Regional Planning, to review both landfills’ Conditional Use Permit and examine Conditions of Approval to bring the operators into compliance and alleviate the odor nuisance impacting the surrounding communities. The Departments will report back to the Board in two weeks with findings and recommendations.
Chiquita made the following statement at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors:
“Good afternoon, Chair Solis, members of the Board. My name is John Musella and I am here this afternoon representing Chiquita Canyon Landfill regarding Agenda Item 27 in which Supervisor Antonovich has asked the Director of Planning, in consultation with County Counsel and the Director of Public Works to review the landfill’s Conditional Use Permit regarding odors.
Chiquita Canyon welcomes the opportunity to work with the County of Los Angeles regarding this important issue as we take very seriously the safe operations of our landfill. As such, there has been only one Notice of Violation issued to Chiquita Canyon by the South Coast AQMD in nearly 10 years.
Compare that to the 180 Notices of Violation issued to Sunshine Canyon landfill in just the past 8 years.
Last year, on its own initiative, Chiquita Canyon hired a nationally recognized firm specializing in odor analysis to conduct an independent Odor Survey at Chiquita Canyon. That firm concluded Chiquita does not create significant odor impacts to the surrounding community.
Three trained odor specialists collected 2,025 sampling data points over a 25-day period in the community surrounding the landfill. Only 5 of the 2,025 data points (only 0.2%) were potentially associated with landfill odors in Val Verde. These findings support the records of the SCAQMD which has record of only 3 verified odor complaints in a 5-year period between August 2007 and July 2012.
No verified odor complaint has ever been associated with landfill gas emissions from Chiquita Canyon.
During the past 14 years, under the current management, Chiquita Canyon Landfill has consistently been proactive in addressing potential odors. Chiquita focuses on preventing problems before they occur while Sunshine Canyon only reacts to problems after they occur.
Many of the proactive control measures put in place at Chiquita Canyon have set the standard for measures at Sunshine Canyon that were directed by the regulatory agencies in response to their problems.
Chiquita Canyon can be proactive in addressing issues because its on-site management is empowered by the company to address potential odor problems immediately, in order to stay “ahead of the game.” They have full authority to do whatever is needed when there is a need.
In addition to Chiquita Canyon’s independent odor analysis, the Val Verde Community Advisory Committee paid for their own independent third-party air quality testing and review of our CUP and permits. Val Verde’s own consultants also concluded there were no issues related to air quality in Val Verde from the landfill. Their report also concluded Chiquita Canyon was operating in compliance with our operations permits.
Thank you for your time this afternoon and we look forward to working with the County on this very important issue.”