Have you and your family been harmed as a result of a landfill in your community? If so, you could have the right to file a lawsuit and potentially recover compensation. In fact, you could participate in a class action lawsuit with other members of your community with the same complaints. If you and your family have suffered any damages associated with Sunshine Canyon Landfill, contact us today. Our legal team here at the Downtown L.A. Law Group is ready to evaluate your claim and help you figure out the legal options available for you and your family.
Complaints about the Sunshine Canyon Landfill
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A current event that has been celebrated by members of a different community is riling up others in a different community. Residents of the areas near Sunshine Canyon Landfill, specifically, have been lobbying the city attorney to take action against the operator of the landfill. Reportedly, complaints by residents and cited violations reached an all-time high this year. The landfill, operated by Republic Services (based in Phoenix, Arizona), spans 1,000 acres and gets over 8,000 tons of trash every day; Republic Services is also known as BFI of California. According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), both odor complaints and violations have risen this year; from the start of the year until November, there were 39 notices of violations against the operator and over 1,700 resident complaints.
Most of the complaints come from residents in Granada Hills and Sylmar
The General Manager of the landfill claims that there have been significant infrastructure improvements over the past few years, resulting in general improvements in the landfill (including improvements in odors); he claims that odor issues were faint. Others claim that the odors that community members think come from Sunshine Canyon may actually be coming from other sources, like the Aliso Canyon gas leak, for example.
Odors from Landfills can be Harmful
Some smells from landfills can be associated with gases or chemicals that can be harmful to residents exposed day after day. Another Southern California landfill got attention after a lawsuit stemming from residents complaining of a putrid smell, like that of an onion. This smell was ultimately associated with dimethyl sulfide (DMS); exposure to DMS can lead to many symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, coughing, shortness of breath, irritation of the respiratory tract, ulcers in the nose/throat, pulmonary edema, and coma.
This is all happening at the Chiquita Canyon Landfill. Currently, it is getting even more attention because things are actually worsening. Operators are being pressured by the community, different environmental agencies, and now the Los Angeles County Supervisor. Although operators are definitely under scrutiny, they continue to do nothing about the situation. Over 900 households in surrounding communities are affected by the foul odors coming from the landfill.
According to reports, a white vapor was been observed hissing through cracks on the surface of the affected areas. Although is has been months, operators have been unable to contain the fire within the landfill and the pressure buildup occurring as a result. Vapor is hissing from fissures on the surface of the landfill, and liquid escaping from the landfill is creating bubbling ponds at the surface. Sometimes, hot liquid bursts into the air like geysers.
Unfortunately, the latest local air and water samples have identified elevated benzene levels (benzene is a cancer-causing chemical that is found in cigarettes). Benzene evaporates easily, so it is reaching nearby communities. In addition to an increased cancer risk, Benzene has been associated with irritation to the lungs, dizziness, and headaches, for example.
A few months back, in early October of 2023, a landfill community monitoring station detected benzene at levels of 69.5 parts per billion; this is more than eight times the limit. Reportedly, the landfill obtained these results in early November; still, this information was not released to the AQMD until many weeks later.
A health study determined that the fumes coming from the landfill could cause short-term health effects but do not pose a significant increase risk of cancer. Community members are not happy with these findings and actually believe that the report is downplaying the situation. In fact, this report caused Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger to make a call to action and urge the landfill owners to take immediate steps to address the landfill odors – and to relocate residents until odor problems are resolved. Barger highlighted the fact that the situation has been going on for over eight months and that the fact that the community is suffering cannot be denied. She stated that affected residents should not be expected to continue to live in such conditions.
Residents continue to complain about the odors; most of them claim that they have experienced different symptoms and have been affected in different ways. One resident claims that she has experienced difficulty breathing as well as disorientation. Another resident claims that the odors have caused her to essentially be trapped indoors, unable to do any outdoor hobbies or even host her grandchildren. Both of these residents claim that their quality of life is gone.
Now that the Los Angeles County Supervisor has brought additional attention to the situation, residents are hopeful that the landfill operators will finally do something about the foul odors and toxic fumes coming from their landfill.
This update with the Chiquita Canyon Landfill has residents affected by the Sunshine Canyon landfill to be hopeful that things will change for the better in their own communities.
Suspected Methane Leak at Sunshine Canyon Landfill
A report published by the L.A. Times’s Tony Briscoe stated that the increased rain between October 2022 and March 2023 – as well as a tropical storm later in the year – has led to an underground chemical reaction. The rainwater drenched the garbage that was going through decomposition and bred bacteria that released methane gas and hydrogen sulfide. The rain also resulted in erosion of the soil cover, causing the garbage in the landfill to be exposed and making the odors worse.
Exposure to methane gas can be associated with the following symptoms:
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Decreased vision
- Decreased alertness
- Weakness and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
Exposure to hydrogen sulfide can be associated with the following symptoms:
- Irritation to the eyes
- Irritation to the respiratory system
- Upset stomach
- And more
Can I File a Lawsuit?
If you or your loved one suffered harm or any damages whatsoever associated with the odors coming from the landfill, whether symptoms are associated with exposure to methane or to hydrogen sulfide (or both), you could have grounds to file a lawsuit. For more information about the legal options available to you, contact the experts here at the Downtown L.A. Law Group today.
Can I Participate in a Class Action Lawsuit?
In cases in which entire communities are affected in a similar way, class action lawsuits are very likely. In some cases, joining a class action lawsuit can be as simple as opting in (usually if a class action already exists). If you are interested in participating in a class action lawsuit, it is important that you reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will evaluate your case and help you figure out the legal options available. If a class action lawsuit already exists, your lawyer will handle things to ensure that you are part of the class action. If there is not a class action yet, then you may potentially start the class action and be the first-class member.
For more information about participating in a class action lawsuit, contact the experts here at our law firm as soon as possible.
What Compensation is Available?
Although every case is different, claimants affected by foul odors, gases, and chemicals released by local landfills may be entitled to remedies. This may include compensation for all medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, punitive damages, and legal fees. Some claimants may also be compensated for relocation costs (if they ultimately moved away because of the odors). For more information about the compensation that you could be awarded, the possible value of your Sunshine Canyon Landfill methane leak lawsuit, and the time that it could take to settle your claim, contact us today.
Contact the Downtown L.A. Law Group
Our legal team is committed to fighting for the rights of our clients and getting them the justice that they are owed. Our team has decades of experience and are not afraid to take on the owners and operators of these landfills. If you are ready to explore your legal options, contact us today. We offer free legal services – these include free consultations and free second opinions. During these free legal services, our expert lawyers will be available to answer all your questions, address all your concerns, and provide you with all the information that you may need to either begin your claim or continue your claim (if you have already started the claim process but are choosing to switch representation). To benefit from these free legal services, contact us at your earliest convenience.
Our Zero-Fee Guarantee ensures that our clients will never be required to pay any upfront legal costs for our legal services. This means that you will never pay anything to simply speak with our legal team about your case. In addition, our team works on contingency, so our clients will not be required to pay any legal costs unless their claims are successful. If you do not win, you simply will not pay anything.
If you are ready to discuss your legal options with our lawyers experienced in landfill lawsuits, contact us today.