Following an investigation into the Chiquita Canyon Landfill near Castaic, a regulatory agency Friday announced it issued two notice of violations to the facility for failing to properly dispose of a liquid that produced a foul odor when mixed with other chemicals.
Officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District — a regulatory agency responsible for improving air quality for large areas of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and Coachella Valley — confirmed the two notice of violations it issued last week was the result of an investigation of the facility to identify the cause of a “strong, foul” odor that has impacted nearby residents for several months.
Waste Connection Inc., which operates the Chiquita Canyon Landfill, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the AQMD, the foul odor emanating from the facility is the result of leachate, which is formed when liquid such as rainwater filters through the soil and leaches, or draws out, chemicals when it comes into contact with buried waste.
Additionally, inspectors determined that the facility did not submit a landfill excavation management plan before beginning excavation activities to remove leachate from the site.
“The investigation revealed that the facility’s leachate collection and storage system was malfunctioning and that the company failed to notify the agency as required by air quality regulations,” the AQMD said in a statement.
In April, the AQMD noticed an increase in odor complaints that agency investigators traced back to the landfill, located at 29201 Henry Mayor Drive. Since then, the AQMD has received more than 5,700 odor complaints and issued about 100 notice of violations to the 639-acre landfill for public nuisance.
Of the two new notice of violations, one was for failure to maintain the leachate collection and storage system in good operating condition, failure to report the breakdown of equipment and other permit condition violations.
The other notice of violations was issued for failure to submit a landfill excavation plan, the AQMD said in a statement.
Notice of violations can result in civil penalties. In some cases, the company can choose to implement voluntary measures to reduce emissions or, otherwise, prevent further violations.
If no settlement is reached, a civil lawsuit may ultimately be filed in superior court.
In September, the AQMD hearing board issued an order of abatement to address the odor. It required the facility to investigate the cause of the reaction, which is creating elevated levels of dimethyl sulfide, or DMS, and to take steps to reduce the impact to the community until there’s a way to eliminate the odor.
In response to community concerns, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger opened a $2 million fund for affected households to apply and receive cash assistance to buy swamp coolers to swap for air conditioners, install weather-proof doors and windows and add insulation.
The landfill is permitted to accept 6,200 tons of solid waste per day and operates from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m.