Avenal residents demand the city “shut the dump” amid air quality concerns

Local News

AVENAL, Calif. (KGPE) – For the Avenal community, the smell of the city’s landfill has become a part of life.

“They have to keep their windows closed. Things that impact their everyday lives,” said teacher and scientist Katy Cleminson.

“It’s also year-round, but mostly in the summer it is so bad,” said Avenal resident Denise Merino, “and it’s not only just the smell, even the number of flies went up this year.”

Community members spoke up at Thursday’s city council meeting.

“These odors are interfering with our ability to enjoy our home and our community,” said one Avenal resident.

Some wore masks in protest, saying the smell is not just a nuisance, but a major health risk.

“Asthma-related issues, respiratory diseases, a lot of different things related to carcinigens are things that are being mentioned here and that have historically been correlated with issues of communities near dumps,” said Cleminson.

Rumors also suggest that some of the items being dumped in the landfill are against regulations.

“There’s been tires dumped there, chicken carcasses, like truck-loads of chicken carcasses have been dumped there, and so those, just right off the bat, as they decompose, it doesn’t just stay in the land, scientifically once it’s in the soil, it also can then end up in the air,” said Cleminson.

But the mayor says those rumors haven’t been confirmed.

“So far we have not received any reports of any infractions or fines, so everything that has gone to the landfill obviously has been approved to be there,” said Avenal Mayor Dagoberto Ovalle.

The discussion will continue at a community study session February 10, 2020 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Avenal, where representatives from the landfill and the air quality board will address the community’s concerns.

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