Supervisors call for help for residents of Carson area plagued by the stench of the Dominguez Canal – Daily Breeze

The Los Angeles County Supervisory Board unanimously approved a motion directing the Department of Public Works to provide critical assistance to those affected by the foul odor emanating from the Dominguez Canal at its meeting on Tuesday, October 19.

For nearly three weeks, the people of Carson – and to some extent of nearby Long Beach, Wilmington and Torrance – endured a smell similar to rotten eggs, garbage and sewage. Locals have reported experiencing nausea, dizziness and pain in the throat, nose and eyes.

Local and state leaders have called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency to help guide Carson and Los Angeles County through the crisis.

“Earlier this week, Los Angeles County announced a reimbursement program for affected residents for air filter purchases and temporary relocation to hotels in the county. Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-San Pedro, said in a letter to the governor’s office. “Unfortunately, this plan provides insufficient relief and is unfair to low-income residents. Many of my constituents cannot afford to buy an air filter or pay long term hotel expenses.

“These residents need direct aid,” she added, “that is why I ask you to declare a state of emergency so that the residents can receive direct aid and not be in debt. this event”.

Assembly member Mike Gipson D-Gardena and Long Beach vice mayor Rex Richardson also called on the governor’s office to better tackle odors and provide more assistance to residents.

“With thousands of people already sick, many of my constituents have called the city of Carson, Los Angeles County and my office to ask for immediate relief,” Gipson said in a letter to the governor. “With limited resources, the city and county have taken action, but more is needed because the problem persists.

“As I continue to coordinate with city and state officials,” he added, “I ask the governor to declare a state of emergency in order to put all possible funds and resources into on hand to provide a constant solution. “

The county’s public works department, which took responsibility for the odor last week, began treating the canal with Epoleon, an environmentally friendly odor neutralizer typically used in landfills, ponds, and garbage dumps. industrial plants to convert hydrogen sulfide to salt. The ministry will also install aerators that will supply the water with oxygen.

Mark Pestrella, the county’s public works director, said at the Carson city council meeting last Thursday that residents should expect the odor to improve within three to five days.

Carson residents, however, say that after a few days of service using the deodorant treatment, the smell only got worse.

“The smell of the canal intensified in my opinion,” said Monique Alvarez, a Carson resident. “There is also a chemical additive that I seem to feel in my senses, a more burning sensation.”

Supervisor Holly Mitchell submitted a proposal on Tuesday to instruct Public Works to implement a relief program to provide temporary assistance to residents affected by the canal.

The program includes reimbursement for the purchase of HEPA filters or filtration units; rental of hotel rooms with a limit per qualifying household of $ 182 per day, plus a limit of $ 66 per day for each person currently residing full time in the household for incidental expenses, including but not limited to limit, meals.

The reimbursement program would extend retroactively to October 4, when the odor reports first began.

On Tuesday, Pestrella said her department had received about 1,280 claims from residents. Of these, 457 requests were approved.

The department was also responsible for concluding cooperation agreements with the cities concerned to reimburse these cities for the purchase of filters, filtration units or other equipment to distribute to their residents. In consultation with the CEO, the department will also work to identify reimbursement program funding, as well as options for requesting reimbursement from state and federal funding sources.

“The thought of having to live with that putrid, horrible smell that causes headaches and nausea day in and day out is so horrible,” supervisor Janice Hahn said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Faster, better, more inclusive.”

“Let us do all we can to ease this incredible burden on behalf of the residents of our county,” she added. “And make sure we look to see if that can be avoided in the future.”

During this time, the Pestrella Department will continue its efforts to deal with the smell of the canal. Pestrella announced that the county flood control district will sponsor an environmental clean-up and restoration project for the problem area in the canal, where all vegetation and water will be removed.

“We will be looking at the types of plants we allow, the maintenance regime, removing and pulling the vegetation, and then restoring it,” Pestrella said. “But also eliminate some of the pollutants of concern that now exist there.”

Pestrella told the board that the scent comes from a natural process of anaerobic digestion of vegetation that naturally releases hydrogen sulfide.

“What’s different about this event is that we have a huge amount of vegetation,” said Pestrella.

Normally, these events typically last a day or two, but Pestrella said there was a suspicion that someone – possibly local industrial companies – could have released chemicals into the channel that caused the bloom. DPW and Los Angeles County Fire Department are investigating.

Workers have treated the canal with “a natural biological deodorant” and mechanically oxygenate the waterway in an attempt to accelerate decomposition.

“We are already seeing a change in the concentrations of hydrogen sulfide,” said Pestrella.

Pestrella defended the speed of his department’s response, saying it required coordination with multiple federal, state and local agencies and that he was exercising caution to ensure potential solutions did not make matters worse.

The health department updated its recommendations for residents affected by the odor on Tuesday – saying they should avoid prolonged outdoor activities between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., based on patterns observed with monitoring results from the air, and reduce exposure whenever odors are strong.

The department also recommended keeping the animals indoors and taking them to the vet if they appear lethargic, have trouble breathing, or are vomiting.

County health officer Dr Muntu Davis sought to reassure community members in his remarks to council on Tuesday.

“All of these symptoms should be reversible and temporary at the levels we’ve seen so far,” Davis said.

Davis also clarified that the public nuisance statement was not meant to downplay the problem but represents a legal designation that helps free the county to take action.

Health officials have urged residents to keep their doors and windows closed to prevent the stench from entering homes and to consider replacing air filters with more powerful activated carbon HEPA filters to help clean the air. indoor air.

Public health officials have also urged residents with “persistent, worrying, or worsening symptoms from odors” to call their health care providers, especially if they have chronic health conditions.

Schools in the region have also been asked to exercise discretion regarding outdoor student activities.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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