As we continue our “Railroading Runkle Canyon?” series, the Department of Toxic Substances Control Project Manager for cleanup of the site, Norm Riley, has been removed today from the same post for the adjacent Santa Susana Field Laboratory, better known as Rocketdyne.
Riley was appointed Rocketdyne Project Manager April 4, 2007 by former DTSC director Maureen F. Gorsen. Riley was replaced today by DTSC veteran Rick Brausch as noted in an e-mail obtained by EnviroReporter.com written by Maziar Movassaghi, Acting Director of the department, to a list of community activists who have fought for the cleanup of the astronomically polluted lab, some for decades:
The purpose of my email is to update you on two important developments regarding the Santa Susana Filed Lab Project.
First, DTSC has negotiated a draft cleanup order with two of the three SSFL responsible parties, the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). We’re pleased that the federal agencies (NASA and DOE) have committed to moving forward on a draft cleanup order that covers a significant portion of contamination (90% RAD and 50% other chemicals) in strict compliance with SB 990. Unfortunately we are not yet at a public review stage with Boeing as to their clean-up responsibilities, so we have decided to move forward with the responsible federal agency portion of the clean-up. We’re hopeful that the Boeing discussions will be similarly successful and have assigned project management to the executive level of the Department to lead those negotiations.
The public comment period for the draft cleanup order negotiated with NASA and DOE begins today, August 19, 2009 and goes for 30-days, ending September 18, 2009. Following this public comment period, DTSC, DOE and NASA will review all submissions, make appropriate modifications ensuring absolute strict compliance with SB 900 and will work in good faith toward a final cleanup order.
Second, I announced today that I have asked Rick Brausch to assume the role of Project Manager for the Santa Susana Field Laboratory Project (SSFL). We are entering a critical phase of the SSFL project that calls for a specific set of skills and abilities to move it forward. With over 25 years of DTSC experience, Rick has an in-depth understanding of the Department’s many programs and authorities. That knowledge, coupled with Rick’s many years as DTSC’s Policy and Legislative Director and his effective dealings with our diverse stakeholders and communities uniquely qualify him to take over this highly sensitive and important assignment. We are about to begin a public comment period for SSFL and Rick’s expertise, as well as his position as part of DTSC’s Executive Leadership Team, will help move us through this next phase of public input and collaboration.
Norm Riley, who has been the DTSC Project Manager to this point, has served the department well and has been an invaluable resource. We thank him for his many years of tireless dedication and work. I have asked Norm to accept another assignment in the department where his knowledge and skills will continue to benefit DTSC and all Californians.
The other blockbuster news in this announcement is that Boeing has still not signed on to cleaning up its 2,850-acre site situated in the hills between the Simi and San Fernando valleys. Instead, characterization and cleanup will proceed on lab lands either owned or operated by NASA or DOE.
That Boeing hasn’t signed off shouldn’t be a problem in the near term, according to Movassaghi, since 90% of the lab’s radiological contamination, and 50% of its chemical pollution, are on and under parts of SSFL controlled by NASA and DOE.
“This is a good day for DTSC and a good day for the Santa Susana Field Laboratory cleanup,” Movassaghi told EnviroReporter.com shortly after the announcement went out today. The acting DTSC director explained that this will speed up what “people have been asking for for two years about the progress [of the cleanup].”
Movassaghi said it was premature to speculate whether the announced changes will affect the 2017 timetable for full lab remediation because the department has yet to consider all the comments it expects from the community about the lab cleanup.
As EnviroReporter.com has been reporting this week in it “Railroading Runkle Canyon?” some community members had recently expressed frustration with Norm Riley’s stewardship.