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Troublesome Chiquita Canyon Landfill targeted in new lawsuit from nearby residents

First of many lawsuits filed against odorous Chiquita Canyon Landfill
First of many lawsuits filed against odorous Chiquita Canyon Landfill 02:35

Dozens of Santa Clarita Valley residents filed a lawsuit Friday afternoon seeking damages for suffering through the years of living next to the foul-smelling Chiquita Canyon Landfill.

"We are prisoners on our own property," Val Verde resident John Suggs said.

Suggs is one of the nearly 100 people listed in the first mass tort action lawsuit against the landfill.

"I have a 10-year-old who does not want to play," Suggs said. "I have literally seen my grandma's health deteriorate. Weakness, the fatigue."

The lawsuit filed by Kiesel Law and Keosian Law represents thousands of voices that are frustrated and worn out by the odors they are living with.

"John Suggs and his family have experienced the damages that have been caused by the toxins," attorney Paul Kiesel said. 

Attorney Harout Keosian said their lawsuit is filled with cases where parents were constantly forced to take their children to doctors and claimed that many endured congestion, cough, body aches, burning eyes, and ear pain for years.

"It is pages and pages and pages of people and families who are going through some serious issues," Keosian said. 

In January, the South Coast Air Quality Management District ordered the landfill to address multiple problems at the site, including the control of leachate, a liquid pollutant that is pooling, bubbling and even shooting out of the landfill. It's the source of the foul-smelling odor. 

"A review of Chiquita Canyon's air monitoring data showed approximately 35% of all hydrogen sulfide (H2S) readings over the past year exceeded the California state standard of 30 parts per billion (ppb), averaged over one hour," South Coast AQMD stated after January's hearing. 

Resident Joe Gomez lives with chronic respiratory failure, meaning he only has one working lung. He moved to Santa Clarita in the 1980s because of the clean air, something that has turned into a distant memory. 

"My dormant lung has been causing pain," he said. 

Gomez's wife is a marathon runner and the pair trains in the canyons. Gomez said the smell follows them there. He worries that without changes being made this nuisance will push people out. 

"People moved to our community to raise their children," he said. "If we can't fix it safely, it's really going to harm the future of the Santa Clarita Valley."

Suggs added that the community has turned into a "ghost town."

The Chiquita Canyon Landfill has not responded to requests for comment. More claims seeking damages are expected to following this lawsuit.

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