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Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 17
1994, 4:31 a.m. - Magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake rocks Santa Clarita Valley [video]

steveleeI sat through a fascinating meeting of the Val Verde Community Advisory Committee as I listened to a scientist, A.J. Atkins, sing the praises of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill.

I have to be honest. I was thinking: Man, they are really working hard to ensure our safety.

I personally think they are trying. I also think they are trying harder now because of the resistance from the residents of Val Verde.

During the presentation, my mind started to spin. Why? The scientist was presenting his findings from the wells surrounding the landfill. Atkins stated they were all clean. He raved about how clean they were, and how he had never run across such immaculate wells.

His entire report based on documentation given to him from the landfill. That is when my head started spinning. I know the landfill presented different documentation online – documentation that shows the exact opposite of Atkins’ findings. Shouldn’t those documents be looked at? I even remember Darryl Manzer expressing his concerns about the contaminated wells, based on the findings released online, as he wrote here.

After the long praising from this scientist, he got to a concern: Odors.

The landfill is not going to be able to control the odors as its massive growth increases. It was not that they MIGHT not be able to control the odors, but that they WIILL not be able to.

He also referenced the 21,000 homes coming in from The Newhall Land and Farming Co. They would be tremendously impacted by those odors.

So now it is not only the 2,400 residents of Val Verde, but the possible 63,000 residents in the new development. (Conservatively. I multiplied each residential dwelling by 3, two adults and one child.)

He briefly mentioned that these smells were prohibited and then moved on.

The second concern pertained to the containers at the landfill that are set up to control contaminants from escaping the landfill during rainstorms.

The last four years of drought made it possible for contaminants to stay within the borders of the landfill, which also affected any testing that this scientist might have done. But a moderate rain would cause significant environmental damage to the Santa Clarita River and to its inhabitants. Yet, we have been recently warned of a major El Nino year, and there will be more.

The environmentally protected Santa Clarita River will be severely compromised. The health of the children and families who will be living in the 21,000 homes will be compromised.

Imagine the anger of a parent when they find out their child was slowly being poisoned while they were laughing and enjoying the expression on their young child’s face as that child jumped in leftover contaminated pooling puddles from a heavy rain.

All of that poison that will destroy the river will be the same poison in the puddles at the 21,000 homes that Newhall Land and Farm would have provided them.

I can imagine a class-action suit waiting to happen. The families will first try to sue Newhall Land to recover some of the medical costs they will be entangled with, in the desire to get justice for the deception they feel was present when they bought their environmentally safe home or condominium or rented their apartment.

Then these families may attempt to sue the landfill – which was previously owned by Newhall Land. The landfill is a limited liability company, which would shield the company from liability for medical costs.

Now the families have to go after the county. The county will claim it had no idea there were dangers. Much like they say they are not part of the contract with the landfill and Val Verde today.

But the county is on the same CUP. They were well aware of the contract and are in fact part of it. Supervisor Antonovich and his staff are aware of the landfill. I can only assume they are also aware the river is protected; they are aware of the contaminated wells.

In the future, when people rightfully decide to sue the county for the injustices that befell them, they will hopefully do some Internet searches and stumble across the many articles making the public – and the public officials – aware of the dangers and outright violations and contaminants being delivered to its residents by air and water. Unfortunately, the officials now in charge will no longer be in office.

The county and all those involved should be held liable now. The landfill is a large profit-making corporation. The landfill should not have the right to be a limited liability company. If it poses a danger, then it should be forced to pay for the damage that danger caused on individual lives and the environment.

Parent companies should not be able to set up companies they plan to bankrupt in order to protect themselves from future lawsuits. Protecting these corporate structures looks like government collusion to me. It looks like the parent company knows of the dangers. This should be absolutely illegal.

The county will not be able to claim ignorance. If I go to court, I cannot claim ignorance. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Ignorance of dangers of landfill and the companies that are permitted by the county is not an excuse. The county needs to be held liable for any violations from these companies.

The culpability for poisoning our communities does lie with the county that allowed it. Los Angeles County is well aware of the dangers now and the future dangers to its residents and to its protected river.



Steve Lee is a resident of Val Verde.


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  1. Linda says:

    Very well stated!

  2. jim soliz says:

    If you are right, Steve, and I chose to believe that you Are right, then culpability would rest on the County and the Supervisor sitting in the seat Representing the Fifth District which would Supervisor MICHAEL ANTONOVICH.
    Not to be dismissed are State Senators and State Assembly Representatives and on a Congressional level it would be the Congressman for the 25th Congressional District.
    Gee, that strange. Why, they are all Republicans. I’ll be darn, what a coincidence!!

  3. Josh says:

    I’d hate to live my life convinced that “everyone is out to get us” and no matter who it is, if it contradicts my thoughts “they must be lying” it must be exhausting!

    I hope it really is alright, I hope that having faith (not blind faith mind you) in our leadership and their decisions is still an acceptable avenue to take in these kinds of things.

  4. Susie Evans says:

    I wrote to our State and Federal senators and congressmen no matter what party they belonged to and they never cared to respond other than, contact your local county representative.

  5. Erica says:

    Thanks for bringing up Newhall’s mega development! It is quite a head scratcher that this combination of developments would ever be a good idea. Oh and the scientist’s name is B.J. Atkins. :)

  6. Steve Lee says:

    Josh, thank you for your reply. I too do not believe in blind faith, but I do believe in holding big corporations and our elected officials accountable. I am sure that when the agreement with Val Verde, Chiquita Canyon Landfill, and the county was signed the feeling of the landfill and the county was that Val Verde would forget the promise/contract. After all 19 years is a long time if it is day one of the contract, looking back 19 years, it is just a blink of an eye.
    It seems that memories are very short for big corporations and for some politicians. I am aware that when the civil complaint was filed Antonovich’s spokesperson said it was the first time they heard of such complaints. But, on January 5, 2015 Scope and others went to the County Board to make them aware. Maybe what they should have said, “It is the first time we are listening.”
    Faith in our leadership is one thing, speaking up when that faith has been compromised is another. I am not rich and I can not donate tons of money in order to hold politicians and big corporations accountable, but,what I can do is write.
    I have been informed in private email that parent companies can be sued when they are overseeing their smaller companies that are LLC.
    This is great news. When the people know this in the future, they will have much more choices then was once thought.
    Once again Josh, thank you for your comment.

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