Air Pollution Agency Issues Violations to LA County and Companies Over Stench in Carson

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
December 3, 2021 Updated: December 3, 2021

LOS ANGELES—The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued violation notices to Los Angeles County and four companies following a probe into a noxious smell coming from decaying organic material in the Dominguez Channel, the agency announced Dec. 3.

Thousands of residents from Carson, West Carson, and portions of Gardena, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Wilmington, and Long Beach have reported the noxious rotting egg-like smell. Many have complained of headaches, burning eyes, nausea, and other discomforts.

In September, two companies—Virgin Scent Inc. doing business as ArtNaturals and Day to Day Imports—stored large quantities of beauty products at a warehouse located at 16325 S. Avalon Blvd. in Carson. The warehouse is owned by Liberty Properties Limited Partnership and
its parent company, Prologis Inc., according to the air pollution agency.

On Sept. 30, a large fire started on the warehouse property, and efforts to extinguish the fire continued over several days. As a result, chemicals contained in the stored products, including ethanol, passed through the sewer system into the local flood control waterway, the Dominguez Channel.

Epoch Times Photo
Businesses and residents near the Dominguez Channel have been experiencing a foul odor from the water in Carson, Calif., on Nov. 4, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

This was followed by the anaerobic decay of organic materials in the channel, which caused elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide to be discharged into the air.

Days later, the South Coast Air Quality Management District began receiving odor complaints from residents of the Carson area, soon reaching 100 complaints in a single day. Inspectors traced the noxious smell to the Dominguez Channel, which is under county jurisdiction. The air pollution agency issued notices of violation on Thursday to Los Angeles County and the four companies linked to the warehouse.

Since Oct. 3, inspectors have responded to more than 4,600 odor complaints from residents in Carson, as well as Gardena, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Wilmington, and other parts of L.A. county, the agency said.

It got so bad that early last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency and the Department of Public Health conducted door-to-door outreach to more than 8,970 Carson residents, including medically fragile individuals.

In addition, the Department of Public Works coordinated with multiple experts and spent an estimated $5.4 million on remediation and providing or reimbursing residents for air filters, air purifiers, and temporary relocation.

The violation notices can result in civil penalties. In some cases, the company or entity can choose to implement voluntary measures to reduce emissions or otherwise prevent further violations. If no settlement is reached, a civil lawsuit may ultimately be filed in Superior Court, according to the air pollution agency.