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[KB Home’s Runkle Canyon development is now called Arroyo Vista at the Woodlands]

Mary WiesbrockEnviroReporter.com just posted four videos of concerned citizens protesting Runkle Canyon’s development. They are filmed by Brigham Maher, who also addresses the Simi Valley City Council, on October 22, 2007, which can also be seen via the city’s video archive of the meeting.

The videos provide insight into how some feel about Runkle Canyon being developed without a proper characterization and cleanup of the elevated amounts of strontium-90, arsenic, vanadium, chromium and benzo(a)anthracene found in the picturesque canyon. These people are awaiting responses to their comments on the proposed cleanup plan for Runkle Canyon.

As I reported in the July 31 post “The Gloves Come Off,” the Department of Toxic Substances Control is about to approve a Runkle Canyon cleanup response plan. Interestingly, the DTSC project manager for the KB Home/DTSC cleanup agreement, Norm Riley, said nothing about all the public comments he had received about the plan, including the Radiation Ranger response plan comments.

“With respect to the Runkle Canyon project, we have not yet approved the response plan that was submitted by the developer and the developer therefore was not able to proceed with removal of tar material and additional testing prescribed by DTSC until such time as the response plan is reviewed,” Riley said. “My hope is that we will be able to approve that response plan in the next few weeks but I don’t know exactly when it’ll happen.”

So what happened to the comments? Is DTSC going to green-light a response plan without the public seeing what it is? Or is Riley going to approve the response plan it did see that has raised so many concerns, generated numerous comments most available on StopRunkledyne.com, without even considering those comments in response to the public?

If that is the case, there is sure to be plenty of public reaction. If an October 22, 2007 meeting of the Simi Valley City Council is any indication, the citizenry has a lot to say about KB Home’s long-delayed development of 461 homes. I wrote about this meeting in a November 1, 2007 Ventura County Reporter cover story called “Dirty Business – New law cleaning up Rocketdyne for parkland may not stop adjacent KB Home development pushed by Simi Valley City Council.”

Following are selected excerpts of what different folks said, including the reactions of the mayor and city council. These same folks, and others, eagerly await DTSC’s responses to their comments on this controversial canyon and the cleanup response plan.

Brigham Maher:

Regarding Runkle Canyon, I am very curious why you want to kill me? Why do you want to kill my family? Why do you want to kill my friends? And why do you want to kill yourselves in the whole process? Runkle Canyon is contaminated. There’s lots of tests out there stating the facts. It’s right down from the worst nuclear meltdown in American history. You all need to wake up because it really seems to me that you guys want to build on that land; you want KB Homes to build on that land and, you know, that’s going to destroy lives and you don’t even realize it. I mean if there are readings of strontium-90 in that soil to any extent, digging that up and bringing it into the air that we breathe, do you realize what that’s going to do? I mean, do you guys even care? I mean I’m just really curious – I really am and that’s all I really have to say.

Adam Salkin:

I think the only safe thing to do is not to build houses right up against the Santa Susana Field Lab, a site that is known to be one of the most dangerous places in our country, a site that is so dangerous that an agreement has been made by the State not to build houses on it and now I believe that that same agreement for contaminated land that surrounds this site.

“The Good Reverend John” Southwick, Radiation Ranger:

I think you all have strong feelings about what Nancy Reagan used to say. And one of her big points was ‘Just Say No.’ And that’s what you folks have got to do with KB – just say no. This project should not be built without a new EIR.

Stephanie Hyatt:

My family and I own two businesses here in Simi Valley and we feel very, very strongly about the atmosphere that you’ve created for us to work here, to live here, to play here. We’re just very, very concerned about your choices with Runkle Canyon. As a business owner, we would love to see more people in the community but this is not the right thing to do. This is not the right thing to do.

We know the environmental hazards – everyone is reading the paper. We all have concerns about the environmental hazards there. I don’t want the dust coming up and my kids swimming in the pool and that in my backyard. We’ve had many cancers in our family. It’s not a fun thing to do. It just seems like all that the testing that’s been done raises so many questions, so many questions. KB Homes stands to profit so much from this project. Why can’t they do a new EIR to allay our fears and to make sure that it is the right thing to do because right now, to the public, it doesn’t look like the right thing to do.

There are good ways and there are good growth opportunities in this city – this is not one of them. Not yet. It just seems like KB is so quick to just push this project along and it’s in our backyards and all of us will have to really live with the longstanding repercussions of this. We’re not talking about the crowding, the over-crowding in the schools we’re living with; the traffic issues that we’ve tried to deal with, with the traffic manager who has been very helpful to us… We just hope you take into consideration our concerns and demand that KB does a new EIR for us all.

“Toxic Terry” Matheney, Radiation Ranger:

If we hadn’t come forward to stop this thing, that home project would have started last August, been built and right now you would have a situation with toxins in that canyon in homes. We know the toxins are there. You checked it. We checked it. And yet the bill that was just signed, 990, and you guys supported that. To have that Santa Susana Field Lab cleaned up to its utmost. We feel that if it’s good enough for you guys to vote for that to be done on such a large scale up there, knowing that it’s toxic, then we should do the same thing down here. We feel that lives are at stake.

You know, on that EIR, they said they had checked all those heavy metals and that they were all below. Well, let’s say that KB Homes was not lying, that they were true. Well that means we have new toxins flowing into that canyon. We’ve had two earthquakes in just the last few times. How do you know that those tectonic plates haven’t shuffled and some of that toxic goo isn’t coming down here? Or, we don’t even know, according to the meeting we just had down at the [Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center] how they’re going to clean it up.

They all admitted that – the Department of Toxic Substances, Health and Safety – they admitted we don’t really know what’s there or what we have to do to clean it, or have the money to. But what if they flush that soil and try to bring out that trichloroethylene or some of these others. These are cancerous materials that you found and we found.

We ask for a new EIR. We ask for this to be agendized. We want more than three minutes to talk about the safety of the people here in Simi Valley. I know you think that we have a beautiful view that we’re trying to protect but some of you live on Talbert and no we don’t. You have a better view down here than what we have up there.

This is something serious where lives are at stake and right now they would be probably be moving in kids and animals and everything else up into that area that now you know there’s toxins in. You had told us that everything was alright and you said ‘I can’t believe that the EIR would be wrong but I think we owe an obligation to the people – I took an oath and we owe an obligation to protect the people of Simi Valley and we’ll check and see if this EIR is wrong.’ And I think we found that. If nothing else, it is not the same as what it was.

I ask for a new EIR. This is not unreasonable. What would be unreasonable is to try and patch up something that you already know is wrong. It has to affect [the EIR] now that there are those things up there – the wildlife – your own paper said that. The man said ‘it has to affect the wildlife.’ If it gets into the arroyo who knows what it will affect. And it’s headed this way. Gravity does that.

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