360 people sue warehousing, beauty supply company over foul gas from Dominguez Channel

Three companies are facing a new lawsuit alleging that they contributed to the source of a foul odor that’s been plaguing thousands of residents near the Dominguez Channel for the last month.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Nov. 5, lists 360 plaintiffs, all of which are residents who live near the channel and have suffered from the odor.

According to the lawsuit, Gardena-based Art Naturals stored hand sanitizers at a warehouse in Carson and that these hand sanitizers washed into the channel following firefighting efforts to douse a massive fire at the warehouse on Sept. 30. Prologis, the parent company of warehouse owner Liberty Property, is also named as a defendant.

The warehouse is located 3 miles from the channel, according to the lawsuit.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit contend that debris, which included unburned ethanol-based hand sanitizer and other alcohol products, entered the channel as runoff “in the days following the fire” and ultimately sat in the stagnant body of water, causing decay of vegetation “within a relatively short period of time, releasing alarming amounts of hydrogen sulfide into neighboring cities,” according to the lawsuit. It was that hydrogen sulfide gas that caused the odor that began bothering residents in early October, according to the lawsuit.

The company Day to Day Imports is also listed as a defendant in the new lawsuit because Liberty Property previously sued that company for “breaching the underlying lease by failing and refusing to clean up hazardous substances and waste at the Warehouse, as ordered by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, among other claims,” according to the Nov. 5 lawsuit.

A Prologis spokesperson said company officials do not believe they are at fault for the odor and will make that clear in their response to the lawsuit.

The company has also “created a comprehensive plan to remove the debris our tenants have at the warehouse,” according to the spokesperson. “The Los Angeles County Fire Department approved our plan yesterday and the Fire Department, Prologis, and our consultants and environmental remediation team will mobilize early Monday morning to begin implementation of the plan.”

Officials with Art Naturals and Day to Day Imports did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

In the new lawsuit, plaintiffs are asking the Art Naturals, Prologis and Day to Day Imports to pay for a variety of costs, including relocation, future and past medical expenses as a result of the noxious gas, loss of wages and property damages.

Exposure to hydrogen sulfide has caused symptoms for thousands of residents including headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, sneezing, dizziness, insomnia, chest pain, nausea and vomiting.

The Nov. 5 lawsuit was filed by Kiesel Law LLP, a Beverly Hills-based law firm.

“I would not be surprised if there are public entities named in the future as being partially responsible for what occurred,” said attorney Paul Kiesel.

County officials have yet to determine the exact cause of the Dominguez Channel odor.

Eight Carson residents filed an earlier, similar lawsuit against Art Naturals and Prologis on Oct. 21.

Following the Oct. 21 lawsuit, officials with Prologis released a brief statement saying that media outlets have previously reported that the odor from the channel is related to decaying plants and marine life because of the drought. “The unfortunate fire that broke out in late September is unrelated, which we will make clear when we respond to these allegations,” Prologis officials said then.

Another lawsuit against a local refinery on Nov. 4 by a Carson family was filed, alleging that Marathon Petroleum Corporation was to blame as the source of the higher hydrogen sulfide levels despite the county saying the source of the stench is decaying vegetation, the Daily Breeze reported.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to included a response to the lawsuit from Prologis.

Residents sue over foul smell in Dominguez Channel, alleging fire released harmful chemicals

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.
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