Local emergency declared for foul odor in Carson – NBC Los Angeles


What there is to know

  • Thousands of residents of Carson, West Carson and parts of Gardena, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Wilmington and Long Beach have reported the smell.
  • It comes from hydrogen sulfide gas and has been described as akin to the smell of rotten eggs.
  • Some residents complained of headaches, burning eyes, nausea and other ailments.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency on Wednesday as residents of the Carson area continue to endure a foul odor from decaying organic material in the Dominguez Canal.

Supervisor Holly Mitchell pointed out that the statement was prompted by a desire to free up more resources to address the issue, not a new concern about the health effects of odor.

“I want to be very clear. This declaration… of a local emergency does not mean that the levels of hydrogen sulfide emanating from the Dominguez Canal now pose an imminent danger to the health of our residents. It does not. “Mitchell said.

In a statement released after the board vote, Mitchell called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare an emergency as well.

“As we continue to work with the state to assess this incident, I ask the governor to join the declaration of a state of emergency to ensure that we are putting all resources to work to resolve this issue,” said Mitchell said.

Thousands of residents of Carson, West Carson and parts of Gardena, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Wilmington and Long Beach have reported the smell, which comes from hydrogen sulfide and has been described as being similar to the smell of rotten eggs.

Some residents complained of headaches, burning eyes, nausea and other ailments.

Public works workers took action that the county said significantly reduced the amount of hydrogen sulfide gas emanating from the canal. Yet even low concentrations of gas continue to create a nuisance for neighboring communities.

“We are clear that the smell causes consistent and real health symptoms like nausea, headaches, throat and eye irritation which are deeply disturbing and seriously affect the quality of life of far too many residents.” Mitchell said.

The Department of Public Health has carried out door-to-door activities with more than 8,970 Carson residents, including medically fragile people, Mitchell said, as well as contacts with businesses and schools and a hotline. related telephone.

The Department of Public Works has coordinated with several experts and has spent approximately $ 5.4 million to date on remediation and to provide or reimburse residents for air filters, air purifiers and temporary relocation. .

“Even with that, these Herculean efforts haven’t eliminated noxious odors to date,” Mitchell said.

Some residents took offense at references to the situation as a “public nuisance”, saying it intentionally underestimates the problem.

Mitchell said this indicates that a specific legal test has been met and gives the county public health department and other government officials more power to resolve the issue.

Carson declared a local emergency last week and Mayor Lula DavisHolmes urged county, state and federal officials to follow suit and cut red tape to restore the canal and fix the problem.

In a statement released on Monday, the city said a permanent solution could be to dredge the canal and turn it into “an amenity for the city rather than a nuisance.”

However, it would be a complicated, months-long process, according to Mark Pestrella, director of the county’s public works department.

He said this should be done very carefully to avoid separate environmental problems caused by other chemicals being released from the canal. If the canal is to be dredged, that would involve draining about five acre-feet of water, which equates to about five Rose Bowls with one foot of water depth.

In the short term, Pestrella said, Public Works is spraying Epoleon, a natural, biodegradable spray that alleviates the odor of hydrogen sulfide by converting the gas to a salt byproduct, which the county will dispose of in a separate process.

Dominguez Creek is technically under county jurisdiction.

The county board of directors voted on Oct. 19 to step up support for residents of Carson and neighboring communities suffering from the stench.

Mitchell and Janice Hahn co-wrote the motion, calling on the Department of Public Works and the county CEO to do whatever it takes to provide quick relief to residents, including directly distributing air filters and HEPA filtration units, distributing hotel vouchers, reimbursing cities for supplies and hiring a third party to administer relief supplies and reimbursement.

As of Monday, the county had received 14,557 requests for reimbursement or direct assistance. About 75% of those requests have already been approved and some are ongoing or have already been fulfilled, Mitchell said.

The stench has already sparked a dispute.

A group of Carson residents have sued a warehouse owner and a tenant who they say share the blame for the stench. The proposed class action lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, says that days before the first odor complaint, a fire broke out in a nearby warehouse containing a highly flammable ethanol-based hand sanitizer and that Art Naturals, the tenant of the warehouse, was unsure of the conditions that caused the fire.

The warehouse owners, Prologis Inc. and Liberty Property LP, are co-defendants in the lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks an injunction ordering the defendants to pay the resettlement costs of the residents as well as their future medical follow-up.

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