Residents sue for foul odor in the Dominguez Canal, alleging the fire released harmful chemicals • Long Beach Post News


The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday morning, alleges that Gardena-based Art Naturals has stockpiled hand sanitizers, which the Federal Drug Administration has found to contain “unacceptable levels of known carcinogens.” , in a warehouse in Carson and that these hand sanitizers were in the canal following a fire in the warehouse on September 30.

LA County officials confirmed on Friday that they were investigating the presence of various chemicals in the canal, but would not say whether the investigation could lead to criminal charges or other penalties.

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

Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Director Mark Pestrella said at recent Carson City Council meetings that the county is investigating a material spill in the canal – including pieces of pallet, cardboard and ethanol – which may or may not have been put in the water intentionally.

The lawsuit adds more detailed charges. He alleges that the defendants maintained “dangerous conditions” in the warehouse, which burned for more than eight hours and injured four firefighters. Los Angeles County firefighters are still investigating the cause of the blaze.

Warehouse owner Liberty Property and its parent company Prologis were also named as defendants in the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the warehouse company and the cosmetics company made no effort to remove the debris from the fire, including the “unburned ethanol-based hand sanitizer” that remained. stacked around the warehouse.

This debris then flowed into the Dominguez Canal where it ended up in shallow standing water, contributing to the destruction of vegetation in the canal, which resulted in the production of foul-smelling hydrogen sulphide gas, according to the trial.

The stench is most concentrated in Carson, near the South Avalon Boulevard exit of Hwy 405. The communities of Wilmington, Gardena, Torrance, Redondo Beach and parts of Long Beach were also affected by the smell.

The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction ordering the companies to pay future moving costs and medical surveillance due to the foul gas, as well as unspecified damages.

After nearly three weeks of stinking, residents’ feelings of anger and neglect increased.

Exposure to hydrogen sulfide has caused symptoms such as headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, sneezing, dizziness, sleeplessness, nausea, and even vomiting.

“We needed backup,” said Ana Meni, 42, one of eight residents who hired the law firm to sue. “We needed help because everywhere we turned, they weren’t necessarily helping the community. “

Prologis officials released a brief statement in response to the lawsuit, saying media previously reported that the smell from the canal was linked to decaying plants and marine life due to the drought. “The unfortunate fire that broke out at the end of September is unrelated, which we will clarify when we respond to these allegations,” Prologis officials said.

Art Naturals officials did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

At a press briefing on Friday morning, Pestrella said the chemicals in the channel “are making us curious about how they got into the system.” He said the county is investigating.

“I am not in a position to speak to the details of this investigation,” Pestrella said during the briefing, as it can be both criminal and civil. Asked about the lawsuit and the possibility that the hand sanitizing chemicals contributed to the odor, Pestrella said he was not aware of the lawsuit and could not speculate on the chemicals causing the odor. subject of the investigation.

Previously, Pestrella had said that the introduction of these materials could have become food for organisms, which could have resulted in an acceleration of the natural decomposition of organic matter, such as vegetation and marine life. The rotting and decomposition of the organic material then produced a byproduct of hydrogen sulfide, which is the source of the pungent rotten egg odor that nearby residents inhale. A low tide drying out vegetation in the channel also resulted in more rot, he said.

Pestrella said last week that the source of the foreign material dump could be from a nearby pallet fire earlier this month, but the county has not confirmed this theory.

County crews began spraying a deodorant, Epoleon, into the canal on October 15, but the smell stuck.

The lawsuit was filed by Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy, who has one of its four offices in the Los Angeles / Santa Monica area. The company has engaged in public health lawsuits in the past after settling a $ 1.8 billion lawsuit over a massive natural gas release in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Prologis officials.

“Unacceptable on so many levels”: the stench of the Dominguez canal will last another week, officials say

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