Prologis on hook for mystery stink in Carson?

Suit claims debris from fire at warehouse in industrial developer’s portfolio caused toxic gas in residential neighborhoods

Los Angeles /
Oct.October 26, 2021 01:57 PM
Prologis CEO Hamid Moghadam with an illustration of last month's El Sereno warehouse fire (Twitter/NOT_INTO_IT, iStock, Getty)
Prologis CEO Hamid Moghadam with an illustration of last month’s El Sereno warehouse fire (Twitter/NOT_INTO_IT, iStock, Getty)

A group of homeowners in Carson are blaming Prologis and one of its tenants for intense and unpleasant smells coming from the Dominguez Channel.

The homeowners filed a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court last week, claiming debris from a fire at a Prologis-owned warehouse last month ended up in the 15-mile, mostly cement-banked waterway. The result, they contend, has been the spontaneous production of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas. The Los Angeles Times first reported the suit.

A fire broke out at the warehouse at 16325 S. Avalon Blvd. in Carson on September 30. Virgin Scent, also known as Art Natural, was leasing the facility to distribute its ethanol-based hand sanitizer.

The homeowners claim “large amounts of the soggy, charred debris,” including “uncombusted” hand sanitizer containing ethanol, was still “piled up” around the property in the days following the fire, according to the complaint.

Eventually, the suit contends, the debris made its way into the Dominguez Channel, which is a repository for some levels of industrial discharge, given its proximity to oil and gas refineries and other industrial sites.

In their complaint, the defendants claimed that, days after the fire, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found unacceptable levels of carcinogens in some of Art Natural’s hand sanitizer products distributed at the facility.

Neither Prologis, as property owner, nor Art Naturals, as the manufacturer of the hand sanitizer, “made any effort” to remove the debris from the site, the suit contends. The homeowners have sued both companies for negligence, public nuisance and infliction of emotional distress, among other actions.

Since the fire, the suit said, residents have been advised by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to “avoid prolonged outdoor activities between the hours of 9:00 pm through 8:00 am and whenever odors are strong.”

The defendants are also claiming they’ve been suffering from a variety of medical complaints –– including headaches, coughing and body ache –– since the smell started. Some said in the complaint they’ve been forced to temporarily relocate out of the city.

The city has also detected traces of hydrogen sulfide in air samples taken near the area, the complaint said.

San Francisco-based Prologis told the LA Times that the fire did not cause the smell, and that the odor is due to an ongoing drought, which is causing plants and marine life to decay in the channel. Art Naturals could not be reached for comment.

The city of Carson recently declared a state of emergency over the odor, reporting that of traces hydrogen sulfide gas are still being detected in the channel at decreasing levels.





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