Carson OKs litigation against LA County over ‘lack of urgent reaction’ to ongoing Dominguez Channel odor

The city of Carson on Wednesday approved filing a lawsuit against Los Angeles County over what city officials say is the county’s slow response to the foul odor that’s been emanating from the Dominguez Channel for the past month, disrupting the lives of thousands of residents who live near the channel.

“The City Council authorized litigation against the county of Los Angeles due to their lack of urgent reaction to the public emergency related to the Dominguez Channel, and the council has instructed staff to work with neighboring cities to provide a coalition that deals with this public emergency,” said Carson City Attorney Sanaz Soltani during a virtual council meeting on Wednesday night.

The LA County CEO’s office had no comment on the vote, but in a statement noted that “the County and its partners have been working aggressively to investigate and address the pungent odor from the Dominguez Channel that has affected communities in the City of Carson and surrounding areas.”

The city’s vote to authorize litigation came a day after the LA County Board of Supervisors approved a proclamation declaring the stench a local emergency, which allows the county to get reimbursed quicker for its response to the odor. The proclamation also asked the state to declare a similar emergency.

The Carson City Council declared the rotten-egg odor, which comes from hydrogen sulfide gas, an emergency last week.

The stench is most concentrated in Carson near the South Avalon Boulevard exit of the 405 Freeway. Communities in Wilmington, Gardena, Torrance, Redondo Beach and parts of Long Beach have also been impacted by the odor. A definite cause for the odor has yet to be determined, though county officials are investigating whether a discharge of materials into the channel—including pallet pieces, cardboard and ethanol—may have caused the chemical reactions that created the stench.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, county Department of Public Works Incident Commander Russ Bryden said that the city, along with other local agencies, “continue to work to mitigate the impacts, which include spraying odor neutralizer onto the water and aerating it.” However, he declined to provide a date as to when the resident will see the odor resolved.

“We’re making progress, and the downward trend of hydrogen sulfide readings continue,” Bryden said.

So far, the county has relocated more than 2,100 families to local hotels, distributed more than 10,500 portable air filters, and responded to more than 6,400 telephone calls, Bryden said in his report to the council.

Councilman Jawane Hilton said Carson’s elected officials are “particularly frustrated” with the many unanswered questions, which is why the council voted to authorize litigation against the county.

“We don’t have answers for our residents, and it’s unacceptable,” Hilton said.

Since Oct. 3, the South Coast AQMD has received more than 4,200 complaints related to the stench.

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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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