The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Los Angeles County’s Landfills Emitting Toxic Odors

Feb 12, 2024

Two massive landfills at Chiquita Canyon and Sunshine Canyon, located northwest of Los Angeles County, have been smoldering for months, emitting toxic gases like benzene, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide. These disastrous conditions have been worsening over time. In Chiquita Canyon, steaming-hot, contaminated water has also surged to the surface, forming bubbling ponds and rivers of odorous waste and, at times, erupting like a geyser.

As a result, people living near these landfills have been experiencing headaches, dizzy spells, and breathing difficulties, in addition to constant toxic odors in the air.

These two landfill facilities accept a total of more than 7,000 tons of trash a day from Los Angeles County. The landfill operators cover the dumped trash with soil to isolate it from the atmosphere and the surrounding land. This buried trash is known to produce combustible gases, which should be removed by a piping system below ground.

Because of the high environmental temperatures experienced at these landfills, the cheap plastic pipes used for the piping had melted, blocking the removal of methane. The operators reported that temperatures within the dumps have climbed to more than 200 degrees, increasing underground pressures, and eventually causing eruptions.

Los Angeles County has eighteen landfill sites near Los Angeles, all operated by private businesses. Others could easily have the same toxic gas and contaminated water emission problem as these two. This pollution could increase over time.

This landfill problem has rapidly been turning into an extensive environmental disaster, affecting the health of close to 10 million people living in Los Angeles County. Private companies are only concerned with their profits. Either they do nothing to mitigate the hazards or else they use the cheapest shortcuts.