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Landfill stench prompts class action lawsuit

December 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A lawsuit over the stench from a landfill near Granada Hills was filed by residents living near the Sunshine Canyon Landfill. They say their many complaints have not solved the problem.

"We have been here since 1978. It's is a constant problem," said local resident R.K. Chetty.

"It smells like garbage out here," said Nick Terzian.

"Since 2010 it's slowly been a progressing hell, pretty much," said Yeshayahu Michaely.

They live downwind from the Sunshine Landfill, where tons of waste are hauled from city and county areas. Browning-Ferris Industries operates the landfill. The company has been a consistent violator of air-quality regulations, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), with 55 odor violations in the last two years.

"The sheer magnitude of complaints and violations at Sunshine Canyon is significantly larger than really any other landfill within our four-county area," said AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood.

AQMD imposed a fine of nearly $500,000 last summer. Neighbors say that is not enough. They have filed a class action lawsuit demanding that the landfill reduce it operations or compensate neighbors for damages.

"If we could just pick up and move, we would move. We know it's not healthy for ourselves, for the kids," said Michaely. "There is no quality of life."

At Van Gogh Street Elementary School, children complain too. AQMD has installed a monitoring station. While the air may stink, it is not toxic, says AQMD.

As for remediation, the company has installed more pipes to draw out methane gas and burn it before it blows into neighborhoods.

"We are seeing a significant increase, about a 67 percent increase, in the amount of landfill gas that they are collecting this year versus last year," said Atwood. "So we know that the trend is in the right direction."

Ask neighbors though, and they say the smell has only gotten worse.

"It is just not a way to live," said Michaely.

Since the $500,000 settlement, the AQMD says the Sunshine Landfill has been in violation 10 more times. Browning-Ferris Industries had no response.


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