Carson Officials Declare State of Local Emergency Over Dominguez Channel Odor

By Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
October 25, 2021 Updated: October 25, 2021

CARSON, Calif.—City officials declared a local state of emergency over the ongoing stench emanating from the Dominguez Channel on Oct. 25 during a special city council meeting.

Since the beginning of October, a foul odor—causing dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms—has been plaguing Carson residents. The city previously declared the stench a “public nuisance” in October.

Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes said in an Oct. 25 press conference that the city’s declaration will make it easier to “cut through the red tape” to obtain resources for residents and businesses affected by the odor.

The Carson City Council sent the proclamation to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Gov. Gavin Newsom, calling on them to declare a state of emergency in Carson and requested a presidential state of disaster.

“There’s a solution that requires a lot of agencies to come on board. I’ve called upon the governor, our state’s elected officials … to proclaim this a resolution so we can get the resources that we need to address this problem,” Davis-Holmes said.

The state of emergency also requests that all relevant county, state, and federal regulatory agencies in the surrounding area expedite all permitting processes involved in the immediate cleanup and restoration of the channel.

Several state officials and representatives, including Assemblyman Mike Gipson, a Carson resident who represents the 64th District, were present at the press conference.

Gipson said he and Sen. Steven Bradford, of the 34th District, wrote a letter about a week earlier to the governor “to use his constitutional and statutory authority to bring the necessary resources in to eradicate what’s taking place here in this region.”

“This is affecting not just the residents of Carson, but it’s affecting the surrounding communities,” Gipson said during the press conference. “I’m simply here to lend my voice with those who have already spoken to let them know that there will be a champion in the state legislature [who will] work with the governor’s office to bring the resources necessary to eradicate this.”

Currently, the county is developing a restoration plan for the waterway, according to Mark Pestrella, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (DPW).

In a press conference on Oct. 22, Pestrella said that the DPW will continue to spray a biodegradable neutralizer in the channel to convert the hydrogen sulfide into salt.

Pestrella also said this week the DPW will install a series of “nano bubblers” at the bottom of the channel that will force air to the channel to increase oxygen levels, converting the channel environment from anaerobic decomposition to aerobic decomposition, and eliminating the production of hydrogen sulfide gas, which is causing the stench.

“To put it in simple terms, the faster we reduce the hydrogen sulfide gas concentrations, the sooner the public will be relieved from this nuisance,” Pestrella said.

In the special city council meeting on Oct. 25, Pestrella said the DPW is currently in the “immediate remediation oxygenating” phase, and hopes that the rainfall the city expects to see this week will increase the flow rate in the channel.

“We’ve had experience that rain events do knock down the smell,” Pestrella said. “We’re looking to seize with this increased flow rate that’s coming in, which would essentially mix more dissolved oxygen where the water will help with this, but that doesn’t mean we’re stopping our treatment. The treatment is going to continue throughout the period.”

This comes after a group of Carson residents sued a warehouse owner and lessee last week, alleging that the warehouse dumped debris from a recent fire into the Dominguez Channel, exacerbating the noxious odor plaguing the city.

A representative for the city didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.