CASTAIC, Calif. (KABC) -- The Chiquita Canyon landfill in Castaic is being ordered to do something about a stench wafting over local neighborhoods that has generated thousands of complaints and dozens of violation notices.
This week, the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued an abatement order directing the operators of the facility to "take actions to reduce odors from the landfill that have impacted the community."
The order came after the agency held a hearing in which local residents repeated past complaints about the facility, saying the air is so thick with a putrid smell they have to keep their windows closed and children can't play outside for extended periods of time. Some have complained about nose bleeds and asthma attacks.
At least one resident is trying to organize neighbors to file a class-action lawsuit.
The landfill owners and the AQMD attribute the smell to dimethyl sulfide (DMS) emanating from an older part of the property. That's a colorless, oily liquid described as smelling like onion, or often something much worse. It is used in making dyes, perfumes, drugs, agricultural chemicals and more.
The smell is said to impact nearby communities including Castaic, Val Verde, Live Oak and Hasley Canyon.
The AQMD says it has gotten more than 2,100 odor complaints in 2023 alone and has issued 60 notices of violations against the operator.
The agency ordered the landfill operators to take specific steps to address the problem, including a more intense monitoring effort, maximizing the use of landfill gas flares, submitting monthly reports, and bringing in a committee of experts to investigate and address the issue.
A status hearing on the order is scheduled for Jan. 16, 2024.
The 639-acre landfill has been operating for nearly 50 years. It is owned and operated by Waste Connections, a solid waste services company.
The company has said it cares about correcting the issue as quickly as possible.
"Chiquita is doing everything in its power to reduce potential odors that may originate from the Landfill," Waste Connections writes on the landfill website.
The operator explains the cause and details its existing efforts to lessen the impact of the odor here.
The video in the media player above is from a previous report.