The Santa Susana Field Laboratory sprawls across 2,850 acres in the hills between the Simi and San Fernando valleys. The site’s history includes massive chemical and radiological contamination and partial nuclear reactor meltdowns. The 1959 meltdown released more radiation than Three Mile Island in 1979.
A four-year EnviroReporter.com investigation has uncovered information including an extensive Boeing “media campaign” to bamboozle the press and public into thinking that the lab is safe enough to open immediately as open space when new evidence shows huge amounts of radiation and chemical contamination will still remain.
Thousands of pages of documents, reports, interviews, e-mails, photographs and surveillance video of demolition at the site reveal a vast Boeing meltdown makeover. New information shows the lab more radioactive than ever with a polluter-pliant government subverting its own $41.5 million radiation study.
The Boeing apparent plan to “greenwash” pollution woes away at Rocketdyne involves “astroturfing” the community, feeding media puff pieces and rewarding cooperative reporters, controlling corrupted government oversight agencies and sloppy demolition sending toxic dust into the San Fernando Valley.
At risk without a complete lab cleanup are future SSFL open space users, surrounding communities and the Los Angeles River, slated for a $2 billion revival central to the city of L.A.’s 50-year master plan.
PART ONE – Greenwashing Rocketdyne
EnviroReporter.com uncovers Boeing’s draft media campaign to paint Rocketdyne as already safe enough for visitors to use as open space or park users. Former Los Angeles Times environmental reporter Gary Polakovic’s scheme envisions use of “third parties” to “add credibility and authenticity and blunt allegations of green-washing” and will tout Boeing’s environmental stewardship of SSFL to “shift discussions from a site with a sordid past to one with potential.”
PART TWO – Dirty Deeds
Rocketdyne’s long and gooey history has given way to Boeing throwing a congratulatory dinner for itself to applaud its environmental laurels at SSFL. Those include the use of unskilled youth to do jobs at the lab now where professionals before had worked wearing haz mat outfits. Exclusive video shows careless remediation of one of the most polluted parts of SSFL with clouds of contaminated dust blowing into the San Fernando Valley. DuPont, ExxonMobil & Monsanto award Boeing for “transforming” Rocketdyne into “open space benefiting the community.”
Related – Rocketdyne Video
PART THREE – Operation Astroturf
Boeing succeeds in replacing longtime Rocketdyne cleanup activists and the SSFL Interagency Work Group – oversite conduit to the community, elected officials and media – with a Community Advisory Group it offers to fund. The Department of Toxic Substances Control facilitates coup and kills Work Group in November as it approves CAG opposed by hundreds of residents. Boeing astroturf efforts included nurturing “third parties” who claim that the cleanup will hurt SSFL’s habitat though pollution is in areas previously disturbed.
PART FOUR – Toxic Department
Boeing’s intense lobbying turns Cal-EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control into a “captured agency.” DTSC rolls over on cleanup by folding in lawsuit brought against it by Boeing over Rocketdyne cleanup levels. Encouraged by this backpedaling, another SSFL polluter, NASA, tries to back out of cleanup agreement too. DTSC’s Rocketdyne project manager plans to mirror U.S. EPA’s tossing of cleanup standards out the window. Boeing says it has decided to leave lethal strontium-90 in its dirt at cleanup levels that are 430 to 43,000 times background.
PART FIVE – Up a River Without a Cleanup
Long-awaited EPA study finds high radiation in SSFL Area IV with some radionuclides over a thousand times background. EPA and DTSC ditch the agreement to cleanup SSFL to background levels of contamination, infuriating activists as government blows $41.5 million in stimulus money in the process. Contamination will continue to gush into the L.A. River, the object of a $2 billion renovation now threatened. Boeing’s meltdown makeover guru Gary Polakovic shows up at EPA meeting, warmly greeted by astroturf activist.
Related Galleries: “EPA Radiation Report meeting 12-12-12” & “EPA Radiological Survey of Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone” & “2012 SSFL FOLAR photos“