LA County is suing Dominguez Channel over odor

Los Angeles County filed a lawsuit Thursday in which they accused property owners and tenants of negligence in connection with a warehouse fire that sent discharge into the Dominguez Channel last year, causing a nauseating odor to linger in the Carson area for weeks and displacing thousands of farmers.

The county, along with its fire protection and flood control districts, said the warehouse owners and tenants knew of fire regulations and violations of hazardous materials before the Sept. 30 fire, but did nothing to alleviate them. It seeks to recover millions of dollars in costs associated with investigations, clean-up and public relocation, as well as injunctions and civil sanctions.

According to the complaint, the fire and the subsequent discharge of hazardous materials to storm drains and to the canal “should never have taken place.” Months before the fire, the complaint says, defendants knew that hazardous materials illegally stored in the warehouse “posed a serious fire hazard.”

The warehouse on South Avalon Boulevard in Carson is owned by Prologis Inc. and was rented at the time of the fire by makeup companies Virgin Scent Inc. and Day to Day Imports Inc. Day to Day and Virgin Scent are owned and operated by Akiva Nourollah, Yosef Nourollah, Yehuda Nourollah and Yaakov Nourollah, according to the complaint.

In March, a Prologis technician inspecting the warehouse noticed pallets of flammable materials in an outdoor storage area stacked 15 to 20 feet high, with boxes leaning over and toppling over on the ground.

The technician reported what he found to the property manager, who informed the tenants.

Two months later, after the fire department quoted Day to Day for improperly storing hundreds of flammable pallets in a separate warehouse on East 59th Street in Los Angeles, inspectors found that the company could also store hazardous or flammable materials improperly. at its Carson warehouse.

In May, the fire protection district inspected the Carson warehouse and cited Day to Day again with improper storage of hazardous materials, including essential oils and hand sanitizer.

Inspectors returned in July and August to find that the violations had not been rectified and that in some cases the situation had worsened.

In July, the district observed millions of pounds of combustible materials randomly stored in the outer courtyard, and in August, “inspectors observed that the fire department’s access road was blocked … by hundreds of pallets of rubbing alcohol.”

Weeks later, on the afternoon of September 30, the fire started, “driven by over ten million pounds of flammable and hazardous materials illegally stored there,” according to the complaint.

It took the fire department three days to put out the fire. The millions of gallons of water, the used, flushed chemicals and dirt into storm drains that feed the Dominguez Canal.

After the fire, the defendants allegedly failed to clean up the place properly. The fire protection district again issued several citations.

In early October, residents in the area began reporting the smell of rotten eggs, sewage and vomit coming from the canal. The odor caused nausea, vomiting and headaches and was considered to be a nuisance to public health.

“The bad odor lasted for weeks and made a significant portion of the city of Carson and nearby areas almost uninhabitable,” the complaint said.

Thousands of residents were temporarily displaced from their homes due to the odor, which according to the complaint was caused by the materials being flushed into the canal, “which led to an unprecedented release of hydrogen sulfide … into the air.”

County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, whose district includes Carson, said in a statement that the lawsuit was central to efforts to seek accountability to communities around the Dominguez Channel.

“While this lawsuit will not cure all the damage and inconvenience that the thousands of affected residents have experienced,” she said, “it will help ensure that the defaulters pay for the pain they caused, which could have been prevented. . “

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