January 18, 2012

A Brief Explanation about the Sunshine Canyon Dump Odors

woman holding noseSeveral of our stakeholders have been reporting increasing odors from the dump. This explanation was written by Wayde Hunter, GHNNC's Sunshine Canyon Landfill expert, in an attempt to explain to you why the odors are getting worse, and what you can do to help stop them.

Many years ago when BFI was the sole owner of Sunshine Canyon Landfill, we had problems with them but rarely were they odors. Since that time they were bought out by Allied Waste (who still kept BFI's name) who also gave us problems, again generally not of an odorous nature. Several years ago BFI/Allied Waste was bought out by Republic (now the second largest disposer of waste in US) and they too kept the BFI name. However, along with the other violations the odor problem skyrocketed in late 2009. I personally believe that the problem is caused by a number of things:

  1. Change in the type of trash being taken (Republic has 6 Material Recovery Facilities that produce real stinky trash).
  2. They were using tarps instead of clean dirt as daily cover and they were removing the dirt placed on the landfill over the weekend and reopening the working face (see below).
  3. The landfill has moved much higher and much closer to us than it was before.
  4. The daily tonnage has increased to almost 10,000 tons per day which is almost double what we had been getting. The list goes on.......

dumpSince late 2009 the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAMD) has cited them numerous times including issuing a Notice of Abatement for Odors which required them to make changes in their operation and to conduct studies to find ways to stop the odors. This order ran from March 2010 and continues today. Unfortunately, the odors did not stop although they were not as bad as experienced in late 2009.

Because the odors had not abated, the County of Los Angeles ordered BFI/Republic in September 2010 to stop using tarps as daily cover and to start using 9" of clean dirt as daily cover and also ordered them to stop uncovering the working face. Again, while this has not stopped the odors it has prevented them from getting much worse and most likely has helped lessen them a bit.

While I know that this is of little comfort to you, the GHNNC and other organizations such as the North Valley Coalition, and the SCL-CAC continue to press the County, the City, and the SCAMD for relief from this situation. This cannot go on forever and the City and the County must make Republic/BFI stop this problem. There are other operational changes that can be ordered that can be ordered however I don't believe that there is the political will to consider revoking their permit to operate.

The best help that you can be right now is to call 1-800-CUT-SMOG which is the SCAQMD's hotline to report odors and continue to do it as often as there are odors. The SCAQMD will also ask what the smell is like and if you know where the odors are coming from. If you can say Sunshine Canyon Landfill or from the north if that is where you believe it originates OK, if not just say you are not sure. Encourage your neighbors to call if they too are smelling odors. The SCAQMD will send out inspectors to validate the odors (they are trained and can recognize the source) and if they can be traced back to BFI/Republic's Sunshine Canyon Landfill "they will be given a Notice of Violation".

It also never hurts to call your local Council District 12 councilman Mitchell Englander and complain. You can also be of further help to us by staying in contact with us and also to be added to our various distribution lists which will contain information as to what is happening and what meetings are occurring.

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