No background look-up table table determining remediation and no map of what has to be remediated and the EPA folks “feel good about it.” This might rank as one of the most costly pollution placebos in EPA history, but the problem is that no one other than DTSC, Boeing and its astroturf team feel the same way.
“Excuse me but you’re a government agency and you just misappropriated $41.5 million,” Hirsch said after Bain had finished. “So people need to understand. They got $41.5 million. They were supposed to come up with a table for background and that was supposed to be the cleanup level. Everything detected above background is supposed to be cleaned up. With some intervention, in the last few weeks – we are going to get to the bottom of who was involved in it – they completely reversed course and ended up with EPA failing to do what it had promised to do. That puts at risk the cleanup.”
Boeing’s big bamboozle not only effects local residents on both sides of the lab in the Simi and San Fernando valleys, the reach of its effluent stretches the 48-mile length of the Los Angeles River and down Runkle Canyon and Brandeis-Bardin into the Arroyo Simi and Cahuegas Creek. In either direction, this goo ends up in the Pacific along Southern California beaches where millions of people swim, surf and fish.
“Surface water drainage in the northern portion of the Area IV Study Area flows north into Meier Canyon, which is a tributary to the Arroyo Simi, flowing westward and terminating in the Pacific Ocean,” says the $41.5 million EPA study. “Drainage of the majority of the Area IV Study Area flows to the southeast into the Bell Creek drainage system as suggested by the location of the northeast-southwest trending drainage divide (Figure 2.4). Bell Creek is the headwater and tributary of the Los Angeles River, which flows south and eastward terminating in the Pacific Ocean.”
That surface water will continue to pollute both sides of SSFL as recent offsite radiation readings show, such as the huge alpha readings in a Brandeis-Bardin water well on the American Jewish University campus which includes a working ranch with animals drinking well water.
Less than 300 feet uphill from Runkle Canyon into which it drains, is an Area IV hot spot of strontium-90 that tested 114 times background for the deadly radionuclide which, along with cesium-137, are the two most widespread SSFL hot toxins. This silent pestilence has been explained away by DTSC in Runkle Canyon.
That gave Westwood-based KB Home the all-clear to build in the contaminated canyon earlier this year despite the fact that the Clean Water Act applies to polluted Runkle Creek and was not adhered to. KB Home’s numerous omissions of fact last summer when convincing the city of Simi Valley’s planning commission and city council that Runkle Canyon should be given an extension to build could come back to confound the developer.
The highly contaminated Alpha rocket test stands are the headwaters of the Los Angeles River beginning in eastern Ventura County. Failure to fix Boeing’s defiled dirt and water will sully plans to renovate and rejuvenate the river to the tune of $2 billion over the next 50 years because of the continued pollution sluicing down the headwaters and other SSFL canyons into it.
The Los Angeles River is the centerpiece of the city of Los Angeles’ Master Plan. Ambitious design ideas have been learned from the Cheonggyecheon River renovation in the heart of Seoul, South Korea, where the waterway was made more natural again encouraging the public to literally come into contact with it.
The October 19 unveiling of the winning design for the $401 million new 6th Street Bridge east of downtown Los Angeles showed just how vibrant the vision is for the L.A. River’s renewal. Diagrams show how the public will be able to access the water with ease.
Fouling the river from its very headwaters could make river improvements futile since the goal includes safe water for wading, kayaking and fishing. Around 118 million gallons of Rocketdyne runoff pour into the Los Angeles River every year through Bell and Dayton canyons in Canoga Park. The gushing goo prompted a $471,000 fine from the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board in 2007 for 79 pollution violations of it slushing into the river.
Friends of the Los Angeles River, FoLAR, has fought since 1985 to “protect and restore the natural and historic heritage of the Los Angeles River and its riparian habitat through inclusive planning, education and wise stewardship,” according to its website. One of its co-founders is Lewis MacAdams, a much-lauded poet, activist, journalist, and the L.A. River’s most powerful advocate.
Last February, MacAdams went with Bill Bowling to look at the headwaters of the Los Angeles River itself, Rocketdyne. Accompanied by Merrilee Fellows, a manager in Risk Communications at NASA, they explored rocket test stand complexes and runoff waste “ponds,” one even equipped with an old Rockwell International row boat nevertheless kept shipshape.
This was the first time MacAdams had been to the river’s headwaters and he was none too pleased. “Speaking for myself, the headwaters of the L.A. River are a stinking cesspool visually,” MacAdams told EnviroReporter.com, ‘and can’t help but have negative implications for the river downstream.”
Bowling, who first made FoLAR aware of the SSFL pollution problem in 2008, says the contaminated surface water pouring off SSFL during seasonal rains threatens to turn Los Angeles’s main watercourse into “Rocketdyne River.”
“If we all saw the chemical sheen floating on top of the green pools of water like we all saw on that tour, we would fight for a cleanup to background,” Bowling said in a November 2012 interview. “Every time it rains that cesspool heads down river. We need offsite testing to know the extent of its reach to ensure the health and safety of future river patrons.”
UP A RIVER WITHOUT A CLEANUP
Boeing, DTSC, the state and federal EPA and their community collaborators have made clear their intentions to subvert the agreed-to cleanup. Whether political leaders have the willpower to stand up to this onslaught, now jettisoned along with $41.5 million taxpayer dollars, remains to be seen. An investigation into fraud and misuse of government funds might find some answers.
A good greenwashing plan, however, relies on stealth, secrecy and solid players. On all three counts, Boeing and its allies have failed.
EnviroReporter.com’s Greenwashing Rocketdyne exposed Boeing’s secret plan to co-opt the media, thanks to Polakovic’s indiscreet layout artist. The former reporter pioneered a spectacular and dangerous deceit that shames the Pulitzer Prize he won with 43 other people from the Los Angeles Times where Polakovic still contributes.
As covered in Dirty Deeds, Bill Bowling’s films of Boeing’s dust cloud-creating cleanup in Area I shined a spotlight on the company’s bid to knock down as much of the contaminated buildings as quickly as possible, perhaps done with tacit DTSC approval or simply department ineptitude.
The consequences of this kind of cleanup are plain to see: huge clouds of contaminated dust made aloft and blowing into the San Fernando Valley and all over what is supposed to become public open space. The negligent bulldozing goes on seemingly without regard to the workers doing the grading or to the property that Boeing says “poses no significant risk to human health today” according to Make Over Earth’s SSFL draft media campaign.
Boeing has also botched its efforts to replace the community, as reported in Operation Astroturf, pinning its hopes and money on an activist who left reams of evidence of her alliance with the aerospace giant to create an astroturf CAG in 2009, and of her continuing inappropriate and hostile behavior toward the community, agency representatives, and public officials.
DTSC also swallowed this spiked lemonade, killing the longstanding SSFL Inter-Agency Work Group over the objections of hundreds and spending thousands to set up a CAG that many community members view as illegitimate. But, as Toxic Department reveals, the agency may simply be doing the bidding of Boeing lobbyists paid to derail the cleanup and the community dedicated to it.
As this article exposes, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act may well have taken place. Millions of dollars from Obama’s stimulus plan have evaporated at SSFL in a flurry of sampling and testing that was comprehensive and accurate until it was reinterpreted into irrelevance.
Without the Work Group, the community has been challenged in fighting back. No longer can press, elected officials, and public attend these quarterly meetings that may have caught the agency shenanigans before it was too late. This censorship fits in perfectly with Polakovic’s scheme to massage the meltdown makeover so it feels good to folks who couldn’t be bothered with cleanup fights and just want to go for a hike at the picturesque site dotted with Cold War relics and ruins.
Longtime Rocketdyne activist and resident Barbara Johnson, herself like the other three leaders of the Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition a cancer survivor, says that while she is personally dismayed, her biggest concern is for others.
“The past 22 years has encroached on our personal lives, our health, and our welfare, which we were willing to expend for the outcome of seeing the site cleaned up to make it safe for future generations,” Johnson told EnviroReporter.com in November. “Now, in a stroke of the pen from the honchos at DTSC, this sacrifice has been demeaned and discarded. Of course, I, among others, resent what has been done to us, but most of all, we mourn the loss of a thorough cleanup to protect future generations.”
San Fernando Valley resident Marge Brown agrees. “I will be personally be leaving instructions in my will…for my great -grandchildren….to stay away from that Boeing Park…it is still contaminated.”
Related Galleries: “EPA Radiation Report meeting 12-12-12” & “EPA Radiological Survey of Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone” & “2012 SSFL FOLAR photos“