Carson residents sue over pungent channel odor

Dominguez Channel
An undated photo of the Dominguez Channel shared by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Photo credit Los Angeles County Department of Public Works

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A group of Carson residents have sued a warehouse owner and lessee whom they allege share liability for an obnoxious smell caused by hydrogen sulfide issuing from the Dominguez Channel since earlier this month.

The proposed class-action lawsuit, entered Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, states that days before the first complaint of odor, a fire broke out at a nearby warehouse containing highly flammable ethanol-based hand sanitizer and that Art Naturals, the warehouse lessee, maintained unsafe conditions, which caused the fire.

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The warehouse owners, Prologis, Inc. and Liberty Property, LP, are co- defendants in the suit. The suit seeks an injunction directing the defendants to pay for residents' relocation expenses as well as for their future medical monitoring.

The suit alleges that materials from the warehouse, including large quantities of alcohol-based sanitizer and charred debris, entered storm drains and ultimately the Dominguez Channel, which terminates in the Long Beach Harbor. The fire debris in the Dominguez Channel reached the stagnant water and caused vegetation in the channel to decay, creating hydrogen sulfide, a highly flammable, toxic, smelly and corrosive gas, according to the complaint.

Residents of Carson and surrounding communities for weeks have been sickened by the putrid and offensive smell of the hydrogen sulfide, often described as sewer gas, which has a scent similar to rotten eggs and has caused resident to suffer headaches, nausea and irritation to their eyes, noses and throats, the suit states.

"Exposure to toxic chemicals for a prolonged period of time in one's home and environment is known to lead to mental health conditions, including stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and worry," the suit states.

Plaintiff Sara Jaco grew up in Carson and lives with her 90-year-old mother on East Del Amo Boulevard, close to the Dominguez Channel, according to the suit. Jaco first noticed the odor on Oct. 3 and since then the smell has awakened her and her mother up at night, the suit states.

The hydrogen sulfide has left Jaco's eyes burning, she has frequent headaches and experiences occasional dizziness, anxiety and stress, the suit states.

Jaco also is a cancer survivor who worries about the long-term impact of her exposure to the gases, the suit states.

Plaintiff Sharronn Thompson moved to Carson with her parents in 1977 and still lives with her mother and two nephews in her childhood home, less than a mile from the channel, the suit states. The levels of hydrogen sulfide in the air around Thompson's residence have caused her to suffer skin and eye irritation, frequent migraine headaches, stress, anxiety and sleeplessness, the suit states.

Many residents have moved elsewhere because of the gas, the suit states

During a county update Friday, L.A. Public Works Director Mark Pestrella said he did not know of the lawsuit or its details and could not comment.