Long Beach to ask for federal, state help with foul odor from Dominguez Channel

Long Beach officials announced Thursday that they intend to ask for federal and state assistance with the impacts of the foul odor from the Dominguez Channel that’s been plaguing residents in the city of Carson and surrounding areas, including Long Beach, for more than a week.

Councilmembers Rex Richardson, Mary Zendejas and Roberto Uranga will formally request City Manager Tom Modica to ask for assistance, according to a statement from Richardson’s office.

“Although we have been working with local agencies to address this situation, we are requesting our state and federal officials to provide urgent assistance in the remediation and response to this public nuisance that has impacted the quality of life of thousands of families across the region,” said Richardson, who also serves as the vice mayor and on the South Coast Air Quality Management District governing board.

The Dominguez Channel continues to emit a foul odor on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

County officials said they believe the foul odor is caused by decaying vegetation in the channel that has been emitting low levels of hydrogen sulfide, which, residents say, has caused symptoms including headaches and eye, nose or throat irritation, sneezing, dizziness, insomnia, nausea, and even vomiting.

While Carson residents have been getting the brunt of the odor, it has also reached parts of Long Beach, Torrance, Gardena, Redondo Beach and Wilmington.

The Air Quality Management District received approximately 2,000 complaints related to the release of hydrogen sulfide from residents and business owners in cities across the region, including more than 125 complaints in Long Beach—from West Long Beach to El Dorado Park—according to Richardson’s statement.

Carson resident Ana Meni, 42, led a rally outside of Carson City Hall Thursday afternoon calling on her city council members to try harder to help residents, such as having the city purchasing air purifiers to proactively give out to residents and canvassing the most impacted areas to ask if they need relocation assistance.

Ana Meni, left, and a local resident protest outside of Carson City Hall during a rally pressuring official to address the foul-smelling Dominguez Channel on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Meni said residents beyond Carson, including Long Beach, have asked to join her efforts.

“I wake up every day with a pounding headache,” she said, saying she lives half a mile away from the channel and also has been experiencing a sore throat. Meni then began to cry, adding that she gets messages from affected residents who are having worse symptoms and felt too sick to join the rally.

Because Carson and the county have not declared the foul odor a health issue, which could trigger closures like the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is having “to make that decision just to put up with it,” Meni said.

Local residents rally outside of Carson City Hall to call on the city council to address the foul-smelling Dominguez Channel on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Debra Hill, 56, who lives on Avalon Boulevard and Elsmere Drive near the channel, said that she’s seen patrons of the South Pavillion mall dwindle. While the air around Carson City Hall was fresher, the mall area near the 405 Freeway near the Avalon exit was still pungent.

Lori Carter, 46, Carson resident and owner of Juice-C-Juice on Dominguez Street and Leapwood Avenue, said that many of her customers wait outside to be served due to the existing COVID-19 social distancing rules.

“Standing outside has been a problem,” Carter said. She added that she’s been smelling the odor for nearly three weeks and many residents are getting symptoms of exposure to hydrogen sulfide without knowing why.

“We need transparency and education for what we’ve been exposed to,” Carter said.

The Carson City Council will host another virtual special meeting tonight at 6 p.m. where the council will be revisiting the foul odor issue.

County to offer temporary relocation, air filter reimbursements amid foul odor from Dominguez Channel

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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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