Sleight of Land

READ our September 23, 2010 LA Weekly news story “Rocketdyne Cleanup Won’t Help Runkle Canyon – Historic fix doesn’t extend to tainted adjacent land where KB Home plans 461 condos [and homes].”

COMMENT here and at LA Weekly comments.

READ Cal-EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control’s “Review and Comments on the Runkle Canyon Response Plan” sent to developer KB Home July 22, 2010.

READ Michael Collins’ questions to DTSC about its Runkle Canyon Response Plan first submitted August 16, 2010. These questions, the majority of which remain unanswered, did yield the DTSC laboratory results for the single surface Runkle Creek water sample the department refers to in its July 22 message to KB Home.

READ DTSC Runkle Canyon project manager Rick Brausch interview about Response Plan and Brausch interview about draft federal agreements between DTSC, NASA and the Department of Energy.

READ DTSC’s Runkle Canyon Creek water sample lab report where the “split sample” of the same water found considerably different results that were then mischaracterized in the department’s Response Plan sent to KB Home.

READ EnviroReporter.com‘s analysis of the final DTSC Runkle Canyon Response Plan.

READ EnviroReporter.com‘s Runkle Canyon Comments Analysis.

READ EnviroReporter.com‘s Runkle Canyon Comments.

READ Railroading Runkle Canyon? This week-long series includes analysis and the comments of other individuals and groups concerned about Runkle Canyon’s contamination issues.

READ EnviroReporter.com‘s Runkle Canyon Investigation begun Spring 2005 and spanning the last five years.

SEE Runkle Canyon Gallery which includes photographs, maps, development poster boards, public meetings and canyon heavy metal testing by the Radiation Rangers and the City of Simi Valley.

SEE three Runkle Canyon Interactive Timelines that explore the history of the canyon, the various environmental testing done there, and the events that have led to today’s current situation.

WATCH the battle of Runkle Canyon on video.

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  1. Daniel Sprock says:

    I grew up in Simi Valley in the early 60′s until the 80′s. I moved out in the 80′s, and not until recently I heard about the Rocketdyne toxins in the soil and the sodium fallout of 1959. This is because when I moved from Simi Valley, I remembered a beautiful town that was safe to live in , and close to work and the beach. NOW, I read these artiicals about KB homes,and the government turning there heads the other way, when the hard evidence of toxins are found in the soil that could last another hundered years. It would probly take a city council offical to be infected with a cancer related desease from the site before it got through to them about the potential dangers of building on a chemical seep. You can’t stop progress, But you must pay attention to the people who vote for you. Officials of Simi Valley, please listen to the people in your community and do not be remembered like the city officials in the city of Bell scandle. The money can always be payed back, but approving a toxic playground will have irreversible effects.

  2. Scott Smith says:

    It is just staggering that KB Home can’t see this disaster-in-the-making for its reputation, in planning to build on toxic land. Thanks for continuing the crusade in the face of criticism from those who have nothing to contribute to a serious discussion of the misdeeds of corporate America–or perhaps they’re just on the payroll.

  3. KeenObserver says:

    Please see link pertaining to EPA Relocations here —

    http://www.epa.gov/superfund/community/relocation/

    Since it seems SB990 has had its teeth pulled out, then Pavley/Brownley can easily author the appropriate amendments to the law to include relocation of persons/property near contaminated lands adjoining the Rocketdyne property. Perhaps a NIOSH Dose Reconstruction Study needs to also be implemented for all neighboring property owners and residents. Employees were exposed, true; but neighbors below and around also get the double whammy of sleeping in the mess the employees made plus breathing/drinking/ingesting the poison off the hill 24/7.

    If DTSC and its SB990 purports to somehow have more teeth than EPA Superfund, then this is the time to walk the walk.

    To get an idea of what DOE is capable of, see link here regarding property lines and buffer zones and how they relate to nuclear brushfires deliberately set by DOE –

    http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Stop-Nuclear-Brushfires-EIN-EIJ.htm

    We’ve had quite a few suspiciously-set fires around the SSFL area as well, some mysteriously close to pending announcements of court verdicts or key attorney settlements of recent.

    If DTSC follows the “we’ll follow the contamination offsite” banter in lock step, then the entire perimeter of SSFL needs to be adequately tested beyond the bogus buffer zones and into your neighbor’s backyard, which still has not occurred despite SB990.

    2017? Not likely. Get the living out of harms way first. Once the polluter owns the properties that are to be relocated, then they can clean it up to background. Otherwise, your neighbor will still be holding the bag for generations to come.

  4. Evangeline Shaw says:

    I have a separate comment about what concerned residents of Simi Valley need to do if KB or some other company actually builds housing on Runkle Ranch.

    You have a right to stand in the public right of way adjacent to the development with “sandwich board” signs warning potential buyers of two factual issues: (1) difference in clean up standards between Rocketyne and Runkle as to radiation and (2) the presence of heavy metals on the property. Have flyers ready in case any potential buyers stop for information. Stick to the facts, because the facts as portrayed in Michael Collins’ story are not libel of the property or its owner.

    Second, focus on educating the Simi Valley realtor community that they have potential liability if they bring buyers to the project, to earn a commission from KB. Again, use a factual flyer to warn them of what is being left at Runkle, and that if buyers or their families become sick the realtors may end up being co-defendants unless they explicitly warn their buyer/customers, to whom they have a fiduciary duty under California law. Educating the disinterested realtor community is the big step in giving the project a toxic black eye which will ward off buyers.

    Third, send someone to the project to see if KB is offering home purchase financing by a bank or other lender not controlled by KB. If yes, send the potential purchase money mortgage lender your flyer, warning them that may get stuck with a lot of foreclosed housing units once buyers start to discover the contamination let alone get sick.

    Fourth, consider sending letters to KB’s legal department as well as the Securities & Exchange Commission detailing your facts and asserting that KB is breaking Federal securities laws in not disclosing to its shareholders that it is build condos on still-contaminated land. Send the letters again when construction starts, and again when actual sales begin. Again, stick to the facts as set out in Michael Collins’ stories listed above.

    Fifth, write letters to the editor to the Star and the Acorn now, and do it again when construction of the projects begins. Repeat the letters when sales begin.

    The bottom line is that if you stick to the facts (such as those recited in Michael Collins’ story), you can wage a successful campaign to make people wary of buying a condo or home in the project, and California’s anti-SLAPP laws should protect you against successful lawsuits by KB or whoever actually builds this project.

  5. Evangeline Shaw says:

    My older brother and I played on Runkle Ranch when we were kids. We had no idea that it was radioactively contaminated. We are both very concerned about the long term consequences of high radiation exposure from the land we played on. My brother already has a medical condition which matches the symptoms of chronic radiation poisoning.

    From the story above it sounds to me like the employees of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) are up to their repeated, statewide arrogant tricks of not keeping the members of the public who are “stakeholders” in the Runkle/Rocketdyne clean up apprised of what DTSC’s staff is doing.

    From the stories Michael Collins has recently written it appears that DTSC’s Acting Director Maziar Movassaghi has broken his promises to Simi Valley’s long time toxic/radiation clean up activists. Mr. Movassaghi does not deserve to be appointed as permanent Director of DTSC.

    In fact, Jerry Brown has been totally lame, as Attorney General, on toxics issues and has not provided aggressive leadership of cleanup of toxics statewide. I expect nothing more from him as Governor, and expect equal or worse from Meg Whitman. Simi Valley residents, present and future, have been and will continue to be harmed by lazy, arrogant and morally corrupt state employees.

  6. LemonMeister says:

    Google KB Home Sucks. Now this land in Simi Valley will be dealing with poorly constructed homes. KB Home has a company Karma and it will pay for its deeds. Maybe you should start a retail store next to this KB Home nightmare, sell toxic testing kits, air filtration equipment, organic foods and such before Burkle does?

  7. Marge Weems says:

    Our property adjoins Rocketdyne’s 3000 contaminated acres.

    Michael, A big thank you for getting the feds to clean up Rocketdyne. I know who did it and worked so many years (10) making it happen. I thank you for everyone else that thinks that they are the heros. You are the hero in all of this. You’re my hero Michael. Bless you. Marge

    P.S.

    Now, are they willing to reimburse all of us for our lost property values, our medical bills and our lives? I want mine now. Buy my property Rocketdyne!

  8. “I Had A Dream”

    I know these are (almost) the words of the Reverend Martin Luther King, but I also had a dream that I along with a few other dedicated folks who believed they could make a difference could win the battle of Runkle Canyon.

    Silly me, I remember my parents telling me as a youngster “you can’t fight city hall” let alone the state’s toxic department that is slicker than effective when it comes to addressing the immediate and dire threats surrounding the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and cheek-by-jowl Runkle Canyon.

    We tried me, along with the other Radiation Rangers and some other good people, and an environmental reporter; we tried to make a difference.

    Now it looks as though our dream of keeping an area free of dangerous toxic substances has come to an end.

    The folks we trusted at DTSC have not even listened to our warnings and have not even checked on our research, some of which was paid for with our own money.

    I have not given up I am just somewhat disappointed in the way things are turning out.

    It looks as if our only option is to consider our legal options including suing the city of Simi Valley, K.B. Home, and DTSC since years of “sound science” and intense effort on our part has fallen on deaf ears.

    This may be the only way forward in protecting our community from a 112-ton radioactive dust cloud since the government has no intention of using sound judgment and science to assess this obviously covered-up situation in Runkle Canyon.

    Here is the way I see it if there is an Attorney out there that wants lots of good PR and no money and is not afraid of the government please let me know.

    Thanks and God Bless.

    “The Good Reverend John” E. Southwick
    Radiation Ranger
    http://www.stoprunkledyne.com/
    revjohn98@roadrunner.com

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