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Published on February 22, 2024
EPA Intervenes to Address Toxic Emissions and Waste Management at Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Castaic, CaliforniaSource: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The stench and toxic runoff from Chiquita Canyon Landfill has reached a critical point, with the EPA stepping in to order remedial actions. Chiquita Canyon LLC has been told to cut down the noxious odors and manage hazardous waste seeping from their Castaic, California landfill. "This order reflects EPA’s commitment to ensuring landfill operators mitigate noxious odors and comply with federal law to prevent public exposure to hazardous wastes," Martha Guzman, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator, was quoted as saying in a release on the EPA's official website.

Numerous complaints from residents in proximity to the 639-acre site have sparked over a hundred violation notices. Investigations traced a subsurface smoldering event that began in May 2022 as the source of the problem, which now sits a worrying 1,000 feet from the nearest home. The local air quality authorities have been inundated with 6,800 complaints last year alone, pointing fingers at the landfill for causing eye, respiratory, and skin irritations.

The most alarming finding is the presence of benzene in the landfill's leachate—a hazardous substance capable of wreaking havoc on human health through both air exposure and water contamination. Despite this, Chiquita Canyon LLC's handling of the toxic output has been less than satisfactory, with the EPA noting a failure to properly treat, store, or dispose of this waste, as reported on the EPA's information page about the matter.

November last year saw a multi-agency critical action team formed to tackle the landfill's distressing impacts on human health and the environment. The EPA has integrated the efforts of state and local teams into their Unilateral Administrative Order, insisting on lawful management of hazardous substances and efforts to suppress the foul odors. To keep tabs on the landfill's compliance, the EPA will supervise the execution of a mandated plan. For further details on the agency's actions and the order, information is accessible via the Chiquita Canyon Landfill website.