Neighbors raising a stink about Chiquita Canyon landfill in Castaic

Leo Stallworth Image
Thursday, September 7, 2023
Neighbors raising a stink about Castaic landfill
Hundreds of complaints have been filed about odors emanating from the Chiquita Canyon landfill in Castaic.

CASTAIC, Calif. (KABC) -- Neighbors of the Chiquita Canyon landfill in Castaic are raising a stink.

They say the stench of garbage and gases wafting over their neighborhoods has become unbearable.

More than 1,200 complaints have been registered and 40 violation notices issued to the landfill operators.

But the problem continues.

Many have taken to keeping their windows shut and the air conditioning units humming all day just to keep their indoor air clear. Others say the odor has been making them sick, giving them nosebleeds and asthma attacks.

"We have skyrocketing electric bills and our quality of life has diminished to just surviving," one resident said during a South Coast Air Quality Management District hearing on Wednesday. "I cry every day and pray for a miracle."

The 639-acre landfill has been operating for nearly 50 years accruing a mountain of garbage. Nearby residents understand trash must be dumped somewhere. They just don't want to smell it.

The landfill is owned and operated by Waste Connections, a solid waste services company.

The company and the AQMD have determined the odors are a product of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) emanating from an older part of the property.

DMS is a colorless, oily liquid with an odor like onion. It is used in making dyes, perfumes, drugs, agricultural chemicals and more. The compound has a strong, objectionable odor that can cause nausea, dizziness or headache.

"It's just not pleasant. I don't know how to describe it but kind of a putrid odor," said Danielle, a Castaic resident.

The AQMD is working with the landfill owners to find ways to mitigate the odor and its effects on nearby communities like Castaic, Val Verde, Live Oak and Hasley Canyon.

The landfill owners say they care deeply 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," the company writes on the landfill website.

The operator explains the cause and details its efforts to lessen the impact of the odor here.

One local resident, Jessica Chambers, is hoping to galvanize her neighbors to join together to file a class-action lawsuit against the landfill.

She says kids can't even go outside and play for a long time. It's not just the odor, but "it's like a heaviness that you feel inside your chest."