Carson Odor From Hydrogen Sulfide From Drilling at Old Landfill?

Carson landfill drilling
Carson landfill drilling

The city of Carson is "investigating illicit discharges in the channel upstream causing the smell. "

These photos were from the drilling of some sort on the old landfill in Carson back in 2019.  What were they doing and did they cause the recent hydrogen sulfide leak and odor?   Why did construction work stop on the site in January 2020?  The City of Carson got sued by the Cam-Carson developer and why is Carson suing the State of California?  Is this over a failed environmental cleanup? 

A 2003 LA Times story said that "Methane leaks are regularly plugged with earth, and extraction wells soon will be installed to vacuum out the gas." 

The landfill was designated as a Class II facility, and at least 250,000 cubic yards of hazardous waste liquids and sludges were disposed of.  Previously limited investigations show the presence of heavy metals, (lead, nickel, arsenic) dichloro diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), herbicides, organic resins, hydrocarbons, and solvents in the soil and landfill leachate at the site. There is a potential for contaminants to migrate to groundwater, surface water, and air. 

Exposure of humans to airborne volatile organic compounds in the air may be facilitated by the movement of these substances from decomposing landfill material to the atmosphere. Although the fill material was capped with about 3 to 20 feet of cover soil when the landfill ceased operations, landfill gas containing methane has been detected escaping from cracks in the cover material and offsite. These gases may contain hazardous volatile organic substances. 

There is a potential threat to groundwater posed by landfill leachate. Contamination has been found in the unused perched aquifer, which may be hydrologically connected to deeper, usable aquifers. The site is adjacent to the Dominguez Channel, a waterway that flows into the Los Angeles Harbor.

Here is a detailed history of this Carson toxic landfill site. The underground Cal-Compact Landfill closed in 1965 after six years of collection and left behind deep hazardous waste pits that have since been "compacted and enclosed". 

The Authority has engaged in successful negotiations with CAM-Carson LLC (“CAM”) for the development of the Los Angeles Premium Outlets (“LAPO”) project on Cell 2, which will consist of a regional fashion outlet mall totaling approximately 400,000 square feet, followed by an additional 166,000 square feet in its second phase.

Developments across the site would be built on top of a containment system designed to protect visitors from waste vapors emanating from trash pits up to 65 feet deep. All the buildings would be set on top of piles that will be driven up to 85 feet below ground into the native soil.

“Piles will be 20 feet longer than the depth of the trash and will all be the same height,” Raymond said. “A landfill liner will cover the top of the pile cap. Then there will be a foot of soil and a building protection (venting) system with gravel and pipes. They will pour the slab on top of that.”  (see photo below). 

Carson dump venting

The piles would maintain stability as the landfill will continue to compress over time. Raymond said Macerich’s environmental credentials, which include staff with expertise building on contaminated sites and using environmentally-friendly practices, helped it win the outlet-mall contract.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Monday, March 15, 2021 threw out the bulk of an $85 million City of Carson lawsuit in which the developer of a long-planned, but now-abandoned outlet mall along the 405 Freeway made allegations of financial mismanagement and negligence against the city of Carson.

Cam-Carson, a partnership between mall developers Macerich and Simon Property Group, filed the lawsuit last year against the city and Carson Reclamation Authority, the agency created to oversee the complex and expensive environmental remediation effort required to turn the 157-acre tract atop a former garbage dump into usable land.

Cam-Carson had accused the city and authority of running out of money to complete the needed remediation work. An attorney representing Cam-Carson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The city also filed a lawsuit last June against the state, arguing the Department of Finance is preventing it from issuing bonds Carson needs to pay for the “final leg” of the environmental clean-up.

“Without the requested bond financing that is the subject of this case, this critical environmental remediation project will collapse,” the city lawsuit said. “Such an outcome would not only pose a serious public health risk, but also an incredibly unfortunate waste of public funds given that the remediation process is already about 80% complete for the most important portions of the site — all after the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds.

Here is the full CRA agreement and former Cal Compact Landfill public document website. 

Carson Reclamation Authority responsibilities agreement.   CRA completes Remedial Systems and pays for the remedial systems consisting of:  

- a gas collection and control system,

- groundwater extraction and treatment system, and

- a building protection system (BPS)

Where is the Carson “top of trash” map? CA Dept. of Toxic Substances Control @californiadtsc gave approval to a  map prepared by @TetraTech environmental contractor employed in the landfill, which showed 19,000 cubic yards of waste excavation was required. 

CRA requested of DTSC to do testing to verify the accuracy of the map.

Department of Toxic Substance Control DTSC would not allow CRA to do such testing (DTSC thought intrusive testing was unnecessary and too risky)

Then in October 2019 – DTSC refused to release funds held in the Enterprise Account for the CRA’s completion of the remedial systems, which CRA requested due to the unexpected site conditions - CAM’s executives were fully informed. 

More than 15 people were present in a meeting in which Macerich and Simon representatives admitted they knew costs were escalating due to the design change and DTSC’s refusal to allow CRA to do
testing to verify the “top of trash”. 

The Authority maintains a robust insurance program to provide coverage against environmental claims and provides protection to the public entities, developers, property owners, and contractors carrying out construction on the 157 Acre Site, including coverage for general liability, personal injury, property damage, and other claims and to which each developer must pay its fair share for. The total insurance coverage provided is almost One Billion Dollars ($1,000,000,000) for all types of insurance provided by the program. This program includes a comprehensive pollution legal liability (“PLL”) program that provides coverage for costs that the Authority is obligated to pay as a result of a pollution condition at, on, under, or migrating from the Insured Property.

Specific questions in regards to this Invitation to Propose should be directed to: 

John Raymond, Executive Director
Carson Reclamation Authority
(310) 952-1773

Carson landfill development project
Carson Reclamation Authority Work completed on landfill

Carson drilling on landfill map
UPDATE: Carson mayor now says foul odor due to leaking pipeline, calls for investigation via @LongBeachPost