The space known as Cogen Landfill is currently used as parking for a cargo company.

In 2016 Bernice Rubio went to his regular medical appointment for a liver problem he had and what he least expected was to receive an additional diagnosis.

"They saw something in my abdomen and my doctor said I had to have a biopsy," said the City Terrace resident in East Los Angeles.

A few days later, on May 5, 2016 Rubio received the devastating news that he had stage 4 cancer.

“They had given me six months to live,” recalled the woman of Mexican origin. “At that time they didn't know exactly where I had cancer. They knew it was in me (stomach or belly) but they couldn't specify the organ. ”

After his diagnosis, Rubio spoke with the neighbor of the adjacent house, who five months before had been diagnosed with brain cancer.

"We had the notion that something was wrong in the environment, but we didn't know exactly what it was," said the 47-year-old woman.

When speaking with more and more neighbors in the area, Rubio and her husband realized that there was a common denominator; Everyone suffered from some kind of similar illness.

Bernice Rubio se joined to his neighbors for argue the problems from Health that Many members of the community suffer. (Aurelia Ventura)

Accompanied with several residents of her neighborhood a few days ago, Rubio said that almost a dozen dogs and pets of the residents have died of cancer, several children have been diagnosed with autism, women with different types of cancer and allergies are incessant in the area.

Rubio said that 12 years ago she and her husband bought their home in the neighborhood known as City Terrace North, which is a short distance from a closed garbage dump.

Contaminated landfills

Reports indicate that City Terrace had an active dump from 1951 to 1959, when it was closed. The lot was covered with a protective layer to prevent harmful substances from surfacing.

However, the danger was not completely mitigated, neighbors say, since the smell of “rotten egg” and the release of toxic gases have continued unabated. This has increased in recent months with a cargo truck company that works from there and neighbors say it is removing contaminated soil.

Arturo Selva, a resident of City Terrace for more than 44 years, said he is concerned about landfill contamination since he has two grandchildren who attend City Terrace Elementary, which is half a mile away from the site.

"We want them to clean up that area and not to spare economic resources," said Selva. "(The county) is offering the latest technology equipment to clean but we want to know when that will happen."

Bernice Rubio (i), Martha Jiménez and Arturo Selva fight for the authorities to eliminate the contamination that comes from the old garbage dump, located a few steps from their homes. (Aurelia Ventura)

Cleaning in process

In an effort to find answers to find out the substance of the problem, Supervisor Hilda Solis, who represents the City Terrace area, filed a motion last week before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to investigate the cause and investigate. Find a solution. That same afternoon he met with more than a hundred residents concerned to explain the problem and listen to their constituents.

Solis confirmed in a statement that the Cogen and Blanchard (Eastern Hill Landfills) landfill is 12% county-owned, in the first district, in an unincorporated area of ​​Los Angeles County.

“Although the Eastern Hill Landfills have been out of service since the late 1950s, the County must take immediate and appropriate measures to protect the community near Eastern Hill Landfills, where there are residents, elementary students and an essential workforce for County safety net programs, ”the supervisor wrote in her motion.

The old garbage dump is known as Cogen Landfill It was open in the 50s. It is currently a space used as parking by a cargo truck company. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

Among her requests, the supervisor asks Los Angeles County, in coordination with the departments of public health, public works and other officials to analyze the health outcomes of residents living in surrounding areas.

It also requests that dissemination activities be carried out and all necessary services offered through nurses and public health promoters; In addition to identifying sources of financing to carry out this work.

The Department of Public Works said that to solve the problem, it is proposed to install a landfill gas extraction system to mitigate methane gas emissions, resulting from the decomposition of waste material.

The landfill gas treatment will be done through a series of extraction wells. These are connected to a series of underground pipes that suck the gas to a place where the filters clean the collected air before it is released in a cleaner state.

Public Works explained that a comparable treatment system is already in operation on the 40-acre part of the site, which is maintained by the co-owner of the Crown Enterprises Inc. property that owns 71% of the site.

"The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works is committed to maintaining an informed and committed community through culturally competent and linguistically sensitive information throughout the development and construction of the project," said Mark Pestrella, County Public Works Director of the Angels.

Cleaning is expected to be ready by the end of 2020.

A view from the landfill airs and the neighborhood where it is located in City Terrace. (Aurelia Ventura)

Concerned residents said they hope the problem will be resolved soon. Rubio accuses the toxic environment of multiple allergies and bleeding from his mother's nose; In addition to a small mass found in his left lung recently.

"I don't know if this is the result of the new landfill rupture," said the owner. "I don't know what to think anymore, I feel very worried, anxious and afraid."

Her neighbor Martha García added that a few years ago her mother died of cancer and now she wonders if it was the same problem.

The neighbors demand an air monitoring machine at all times and said they will not stop until the problem is resolved.

Those interested in the progress of the project and to receive answers to their questions, send their questions to or visit


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