EPA Takes Action Against Chiquita Canyon Landfill, as Garcia Praises Agency He Voted to Defund 


The EPA issued a Clean Air Act violation to the Chiquita Canyon Landfill for toxic emissions affecting Val Verde and Santa Clarita. Despite voting for EPA budget cuts, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA27) praised the agency's intervention. This follows numerous complaints and violations highlighting pollution concerns in Santa Clarita Valley.


June 22, 2024 - On June 10, 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a violation notice to the Chiquita Canyon Landfill for breaches of the federal Clean Air Act. This marks the latest in a series of infractions by the landfill, which has been emitting toxic chemicals into nearby communities, causing significant air pollution and health risks. Last week, Congressman Mike Garcia (R-CA23) addressed these ongoing issues in a recent video, expressing concern over the landfill's operations and criticizing local officials for what he saw as an inadequate response.


The latest violation is for excessive toxic air emissions. The air pollution the landfill is creating is leading to toxic chemicals being released in nearby communities. In a letter dated June 4th, the EPA informed the operators and the owner of the landfill, Waste Connections, is creating pollution that leads to smog and causes lung damage. The landfill is also releasing benzene into the air and is in violation of its operating permit for emitting high levels of toxic gasses.

The landfill has yet to respond to the latest violation notice.


It is the first time the EPA has issued a violation to the landfill. The EPA has been leading a multi-agency task force to monitor the landfill, which has been the source of thousands of complaints for months.


The South Coast Air Quality Management District has received more than 15,000 complaints about the landfill from nearby residents since January 20-23. 


CalEPA, the state Department of Toxic Substance Control and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board have also issued violation notices to the Chiquita Canyon Landfill in recent months.

In the notice sent by the EPA earlier this month, it states the landfill ``failed to maintain and operate air pollution control equipment in a manner consistent with good air pollution control practice for minimizing emissions.''


In March, the Water Quality Control Board denied the landfill's request to expand operations in its East Canyon Project. The landfill applied for the expansion on January 4th, 20-22. The water control board sent a letter dated March 1st informing the operators of the rejection.


The Department of Toxic Substance Control cited the operators on February 21st for transporting toxic waste pumped from soil from the landfill to a facility in Gardena not permitted to accept it.


The EPA issued a statement in February saying the landfill presents an ``imminent and substantial endangerment'' to air and water pollution.


Congressman Mike Garcia released a video this month talking about the landfill and his response. He said that he thought state and local officials were not doing enough to deal with the landfill. Let’s listen to Mike Garcia’s comments.


“The primary issue and the thing that’s keeping me up at night in the district is this Chiquita Canyon Landfill,” Mike Garcia said in a video that was released by his Congressional office last week. “This is affecting folks in Val Verde, Castaic, a lot of folks now throughout the western side of Santa Clarita.”


Rep. Garcia called for shutting down operations at Chiquita Canyon Landfill “until we get to the root cause of what’s causing this reaction site.” He said that employees at the site need to be repurposed to help with cleanup of the site. Garcia said that after the hazards at the site were mitigated, then we can hold people accountable for any wrongdoing and possible coverups.


“What’s happening is that the operating temperature below the surface of the landfill is at about 350 degrees, and a normal landfill is about 250 degrees,” Garcia explained. “So the thermal characteristics of this are off the charts. The earth is sinking about one foot per month instead of what would normally be 6 inches to a foot per year at a normal landfill. So there’s definitely something going on, and our residents are not only smelling it, but they’re feeling it as well.”


Garcia then lambasted Los Angeles County officials, saying they had not addressed the issue as “aggressively” as he thought they should be. He said that both county and state health offices are not engaging his office on the issue enough. Garcia then went on to praise the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their response to the disaster at Chiquita Canyon Landfill.


“This is the federal Environmental Protection Agency that has come in and has acted like the adult in the room now when it comes to oversight of this problem,” Garcia said. “They’ve said very clearly in the public hearings that this is a real problem, and that they need to sort this out. So that’s a good thing.”


On November 3, 2023, Rep. Mike Garcia voted with the Republican majority in the House to pass HR 4821, which would reduce the EPA’s budget by about 39% for the 2024 fiscal year. The bill would also have significantly slashed funding for national parks and reduced restrictions for mining activities that could harm the environment. In a press release at the time, House Democrats said, “House Republicans continued their aggressive anti-environment pro-pollution stance by passing a funding bill with a crippling 39 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and policy provisions that will endanger public health, strain the economy, and increase costs.”


“The harmful Interior appropriations bill Republicans passed tonight completely debilitates America’s ability to address the climate crisis and hobbles the agencies within its jurisdiction,” Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME01) said in the press release.


In April, Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo released a video talking touring the Chiquita Canyon Landfill, and she explained how the disaster is being dealt with on the ground.


“It’s one thing to pump it out, but if you don’t have anywhere to take it to get treated as quickly as you need to. They can’t even pump it. They’re at maximum capacity right now because they don’t have a location to offload it to. So that’s one of the challenges that’s facing the work right now, and that’s one we want to work to help address. And we are going to be working directly with them, directly with our state agencies to continue to make sure that we are doing as much as we can to address this crisis. All of the agencies that are working on this issue, both state agencies and the federal EPA that’s overseeing all of the agencies actually have a team onsite and are working onsite. They have weekly meetings where they are working directly with the operator to address what work needs to happen in the next week [and] what’s happened in the past week.”

On June 14, 2024, Congressman Mike Garcia (R-CA27) released a video where he spoke about the ongoing crisis at Chiquita Canyon Landfill. Garcia praised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an agency that he voted to significantly defund in the 2024 fiscal budget, and criticized state and county health officials.

On April 17, 2024, Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo's office released a video where Schiavo describes her visit to the Chiquita Canyon Landfill and the action being taken on the site with federal and state agencies.

Santa Clarita Weekly

Listen to Santa Clarita Weekly with Tim Haddock and Sage Rafferty right here on SantaClaritaStar.com, on YouTube, and wherever you listen to Podcasts. The show is also on the radio on KQRU 107.9 every week on Saturdays at 9:00 AM.