China Syndrome TownLand resources and money corrupt as the film noir classic Chinatown attests. Nuclear power and money corrupt too as Oscar-winning China Syndrome predicted just days before Three Mile Island’s meltdown in 1979. exposes a new twist on these plots that would keep the Santa Susana Field Laboratory radioactive and chemically contaminated, saving the polluters hundreds of millions. If lab owner Boeing, government agencies, and astroturfers are successful, the toxic land could become Glow in the Dark Park or a new Chumash gambling casino.

China Syndrome Town is a true tale of greed, corruption, and malfeasance that could have real life consequences for the Los Angeles region and its residents.

An overflow crowd attended the revived SSFL Work Group meeting in Simi Valley demanding answers about the massive Santa Susana Field Laboratory 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The site is one of the most radiologically and chemically polluted places in the nation. Lab owner Boeing and a Native American tribe with a huge casino are trying to thwart the legal agreements dictating the land be cleaned to background levels of deadly toxins. If successful, they could create one of the greatest environmental debacles in the history of Southern California.

Agency commitments to the SSFL cleanup, radioactive debris, and Runkle Canyon dust cause a stir at SSFL Work Group meeting. Lab owner Boeing has been illegally dumping and recycling radioactive metal, concrete and asphalt which can end up in the consumer product stream as kids’ braces, bicycles and playgrounds. Radiation findings are now of special concern because KB Home has started construction on hundreds of homes on Area IV-bordering Runkle Canyon. Residents demanded answers about construction dust that is landing on their cars, solar panels and yards.

Cleanup detractors claim remediating nuclear and chemical contamination at SSFL is bad, with government agencies complicit in the disinformation campaign. Recent DTSC meetings see boasts that eating dirt at the lab wouldn’t be hazardous even if β€œthe level of contamination was between 600 and a 1,000 times background level.” Not to be outdone, the attorney for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash lays claim to the entire SSFL as “sacred” Native American property, potentially exempt from cleanup.

Rewriting Rocketdyne photo by William Preston BowlingPART FOUR – REWRITING ROCKETDYNE
The Department of Energy, which runs nuclear Area IV of the former Rocketdyne lab, inflates the amount of radioactive and chemically contaminated dirt estimated to be excavated by three to five times. The agency also says it will consider lesser cleanup standards than its signed agreement with DTSC. Citizens cry foul and unite, despite ever-growing ugly charges made by anti-cleanup groups, to tell the government to clean up to background. China Syndrome Town will not be a walk in the park for polluters.


  1. Toni Costlow (formerlyPage)

    I grew up in Simi Valley. Born in LosAngeles area in 1957 and moved to SV in 1963. Used to watch rocket engines firing into the night sky and think how beautiful. You could hear them fire. I never knew about the problem until I saw something on tv and then found your articles. Thank you. I was researching cancers. Obvious reason.

  2. I was working at Rocketdyne PFL as a rocket engine test mechanic from early 1957 through 1960. The Atomics International project was just a few miles from the test stand where I worked.
    While I know that residual radioactivity is a bad problem in the facility, the amount of chemicals that were dumped into the land under the test stands for the many years of testing there is also a major issue and certainly more widespread than the radioactivity. Each of tens of thousands of engine tests over a period of nearly 40 years required that the engine’s thrust chamber be filled [after firing] with trichlorethylene (TCE) to prevent explosions from contamination with organic materials during the tests. This would amount to a varying number of gallons of TCE which, after a required waiting period would be dumped down into the rocks under the stand. That, and the large quantities of lube oil and other chemicals used, made for a witch’s brew that isn’t easily removed. I was shocked at the time but it was the procedure there and I was in no position to change things.
    Franky, speaking only to the issue of chemical contamination, I don’t see how it could ever be cleaned up.
    It was thought to be justified at the time by the cold war competition with the USSR in rocketry. That’s for others to argue. Working there helped to pay my way through college but I was not unhappy to leave when I did since the work was extremely dangerous and I will note that the OSHA act was not to come along until 1969.

  3. @Donna; It’s because the “smart people” are too haughty,stubborn & vain to look past their own flawed stance on the faulty,failed & flawed half-tamed technology generating the most toxic substances known to & created by wacko science along with electricity “to die for”!! The so-called “elite” may have had the best educations & academic & “appear” to have above-average IQ’s to match their bank accounts, but are found wanting in the common-sense department! They are all “money-mad” sociopaths as are their parasitic govt. puppets/cronies sponging from Big Nuke’s deep-pockets as well as the public victims aka “taxpayers/ratepayers” being subjected to the disinformation campaign successfully generating apathy in the mainstream majority!
    Anyone who thinks TPTB’s agenda is centered more on mitigating the dangers of global warming than the benefit of the poisons produced & released into the environment as an effective means of population control should immediately extinguish & flush whatever they’re smoking down the nearest fecal waste receptacle! 😐 “311” is much more than just an extremely unlucky number!!… :( BEST WISHES,HOLIDAY GREETINGS & GOOD LUCK…[we’re gonna need it along with a not so small miracle!)

  4. Another Simi Mom

    And now the Washington Post has exposed the fact that Hillary Clinton has become a high class street walker doing favors for Boeing. See:

  5. :) VERY NICE artwork on the China Syndrome Town Poster.

    Great articles!

    Knowing how these corporations and their paid puppets operate is part of the current game. People should come first. Keep up the great work.

  6. Thanks Michael for the four articles that completely review, analyse and assess the on-going SSFL problems and conflicts. The essential conflict seems to center around either spending or avoiding spending significant amounts of money to clean up the SSFL to background. If Boeing gets away with (supposedly) cleaning up the existing contamination on the cheap, our Grandchildren will then, predictably, have a marvelous opportunity to become environmental activists, in order to finally get the job done right. How many more children and adults have to die of cancer before this cleanup gets done 100 and for real? Meanwhile, a just “going through the motions” effort is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE!

  7. Very sad. And you probably know Obama green-lighted nuclear power plant construction in Georgia. He and his energy head still have no idea what to do with the nuclear waste and storage. Why aren’t smart people who pay attention in power?


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