California City Plagued by Rotten Stench for Weeks

by Matthew Memrick

Residents of one California city have suffered from a rotten stench smell for weeks, and they want it to stop.

CBS Los Angeles reported that officials have pinpointed hydrogen sulfide as the smell. They say it comes from the Dominguez Channel, a waterway that runs through Carson. 

Lots of California City Smell Sources

A combination of factors is adding to the smell.

First, L.A. County Public Works director Mark Pestrella said the odor is rotting plants and other materials in the channel.

Secondly, the Los Angeles Times also added California’s ongoing drought had produced a glut of rotting vegetation.

Finally, Pestrella noted a pallet fire two weeks ago may have added cardboard and ethanol into the channel.

“The fire is suspect number one for us, with respect to the materials that have entered into the channel,” he said, according to CBS Los Angeles.

Crews Work To Quell Smell

On Friday, crews worked to put epeoleon into the water and to spray it on surfaces. City officials say the chemical helps mask smells at landfills and sewage treatment plants.

Reportedly, CBS Los Angeles said the chemical needs three to five days to work. Afterward, city leaders plan to do a cleaning of the channel.

Mayor Lulu Davis-Holmes told CBS that she’s crossing her fingers about this confident solution, but if it doesn’t work the city will “take another step and declare (the smell) an emergency.”

The mayor is putting together a letter to send to California governor Gavin Newsom for state funding to help residents affected by the smell.

Los Angeles County officials are kicking in around $180 for hotel rooms, and there are plans to compensate them for new air filters. However, there’s no time frame for the reimbursements.

Residents Want More Help

The day before officials dropped the chemical into the channel, residents were at city hall asking leaders to do more.

Longtime resident Anna Meni, who has suffered from headaches, nausea, and dizziness from the smell, said she couldn’t afford to get reimbursed in a few months.

The city has set aside $100,000 for relocating low-income residents during this crisis. Davis-Holmes said 40 hotel rooms outside the city for those who can’t handle the smell anymore. Officials looked for more rooms outside the city.

Davis-Holmes was not happy with county health officials for not helping residents sooner. She said efforts to help black and brown communities were slower.

Across the country, residents of a Charlotte suburb felt the effects of a paper mill’s smell in June. Some Fort Mill people suffered from bloody noses and migraines.

Fox 46 reported that the paper mill was releasing hydrogen sulfide into the air, and residents were concerned that the chemical would reach the Catawba River, the area’s water supply.

As a result of the smell, the Environmental Protection Agency took legal action and issued an emergency order for the company to fix the smell.