EnviroReporter.com exposes 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, and most infamous, 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, and government agencies are complicit in the disinformation campaign. Recent DTSC meetings see boasts that eating dirt at the lab wouldn’t be hazardous even if “the 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.
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.
Winter storm Boreas left more than snow-capped peaks and rain-drenched salt flats in Death Valley National Park over the weekend as it continues its deadly march across the nation. The rain in the California national park far exceeded normal radiation levels as detected by EnviroReporter.com in multiple tests across the huge desert landscape.
Removing the terrorist threats to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station exposed by the Black Swan SONGS series can specifically strengthen this vulnerable nuclear installation. The Marine Corps Camp Pendleton commander could take decisive action after verifying with his own eyes the findings of this series. He is responsible for the safety of everything in the base perimeter and that presumably includes SONGS. Protecting San Onofre protects the Marines and their base which should be all the justification needed for the brigadier general to act. That is the purpose of this series. With SONGS-specific vulnerabilities exposed, we can, and must, prevent black swan events at SONGS and other nuclear reactors and SFPs across the country.
Heavy weaponry, including rocket launchers that could be used to attack San Onofre, is awash on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border with most of the dangerous material originating in the United States. Drug cartels have sought out American soldiers to recruit as hitmen with some success. In addition to the rocket propelled missile threat against San Onofre, EnviroReporter.com has discovered that the SONGS dry cask spent nuclear fuel facility, amazingly not in the highly secure zone like the one in which the reactors are located, is vulnerable to terrorist attack on foot. This second major vulnerability could cause a catastrophic disaster should terrorists hired by Middle East adversaries of this country manage to penetrate the lightly defended dry cask area of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
The softest targets are nuclear reactor spent fuel rods in cooling pools with dry casked radioactive spent fuel rods a not too close second. Nuclear reactors themselves are heavily fortified concrete enclosures and would require much heavier weaponry to successfully attack than the soft sites analyzed in this series.
What San Onofre lacks in an effective defensive posture to successfully fend off terrorist attacks could be made right by use of the neighboring thousands of Marines on duty just down the Old Highway 101 road that runs along the eastern wall of SONGS between it and the San Diego Freeway. Unlike any other reactor and spent fuel pool complex in the country, San Onofre sits on Marine Corps land with 100,000 people on the base during daytime including 19,000 members of the First Marines Expeditionary Force. I MEF is made up of the 1st Marine Division, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the 1st Marine Logistics Group.
According to a June 27 report from Friends of the Earth (FOE) on SONGS’ “lethal legacy,” the last 44 years of energy production at San Onofre have left nearly 1,100 tons of extremely radioactive spent fuel rods overcrowded in pools designed only to hold them for 5 to 7 years. Other estimates of the total amount of hot rods at the site range from 1,400 to 1,800 tons according to several credible sources.
Should a pool be cracked by an earthquake or lose power to circulate the hot pools, the water would drain or evaporate away and the heat of the extremely radioactive rods could ignite a blaze. Not just any blaze. A spent fuel pond fire would be nearly impossible to extinguish and, according to a 2007 Nuclear Regulatory Commission disaster scenario involving SONGS’ pools on fire, everyone within ten miles of San Onofre would get a fatal dose of radiation.
Southern California faces an even more uncertain future thanks to the amount of radioactive material at the site, so much highly toxic material that if unleashed could kill a huge chunk of the Southland making it uninhabitable for thousands of years. This makes it a pre-placed high-value terrorist target.
Even though SCE’s decision to permanently shutter the reactors removes the possibility of a reactor meltdown, the nuclear complex is a disaster waiting to happen. SONGS will never generate a watt of electricity again but its spent reactor fuel situation is in critical danger of catastrophe that would far exceed a reactor core meltdown.
This series reveals that SONGS’ security posture is questionable at best and possibly not robust enough to withstand a concerted terrorist attack.
After a gold medal performance by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2020 Olympic Summer Games to Tokyo. Fresh off of the G20 Summit in Russia, Abe gave a glowing assessment of the deteriorating situation at Fukushima Dai-ichi. “Let me assure you the situation is under control,” Abe said during his country’s final presentation to the IOC. “It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.”
Fracking Chemical Cocktail and Mr. Drill attend “The Toxies Exposed” premiere August 15 and reveal their designs on Southern California. Frackie has quietly made herself at home in the Southland and in 34 states raising gas and controversy. It made perfect sense that Frackie would wow the crowd and press at film premiere which she sees as vindication for all the bad press she’s gotten. Fracking Chemical Cocktail’s drinks look almost as good as she does. So confident is Frackie that she shares her deepest “fracktastic” plans.
EnviroReporter.com has found that a little known new threat posed by fracking is slowly becoming known in addition to the already established menaces of groundwater contamination, huge water usage, methane gas releases and fracking induced earthquakes.
Fracking also threatens the very value and marketability of real estate, so much so that major insurance companies are not renewing homeowner insurance policies on properties that have been fracked or are near fracking. Lenders will not loan money on property that has potential for hazardous activity and contamination issues meaning that the land owner is truly fracked. The land becomes uninsurable and unsellable making it worthless.
A hastily-arranged press conference call Tuesday revealed Cal-EPA Department of Toxic Substances Control’s strategy in dealing with revelations of illegally dumping and recycling radioactive material from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL): feign outrage and boldly claim, without proof, that DTSC hadn’t done anything wrong.
Consumer Watchdog and a coalition of environmental groups threatened to sue California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control and Department of Public Health over Boeing tearing down radioactive structures at the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s draft EPA “Protective Action Guide” (PAG), posted on its website April 15, allows hundreds to thousands of times more radiation in disasters than the agency had previously allowed. Americans have until Monday, July 15 to even though the EPA made the new PAG effective immediately. According to EPA’s own data, the new PAGs will result in exponentially higher radiation-induced fatal cancers than the current goal of one in ten thousand to one in a million Americans. In various exposure scenarios listed in the report, depending on which radionuclide, the resultant cancer rates would claim several out of ten, one in eight, one in six – even as low as one in 1.7.
150 anti-Keystone Pipeline demonstrators rally in Santa Monica near exclusive fundraiser for guest President Obama. Understandably eclipsed by the mass-shooting across town by a deranged gunman who killed four before being shot dead, the protest reflects growing discontent from Obama supporters with his anti-environment policies like the tar sands pipeline, muscled through by the State Department over EPA objections.
The Los Angeles City Council votes unanimously to demand that NASA clean its polluted 450 acres at the Santa Susana Laboratory to background levels of radiation and chemical contamination. The victory comes courtesy of Councilmen Mitch Englander and Dennis Zine, two Republicans who aren’t fooled by NASA’s crafty maneuvering and Boeing’s meltdown makeover. Activists in city hall rejoice in victory which could save Los Angeles River from decades more pollution sluicing off the former Rocketdyne lab, site of three partial meltdowns and astronomical radiological and chemical contamination.
Team EnviroReporter does what the Canadian government refuses to do: test the country’s milk for the fission-product radionuclide Strontium 90. Not only are the test results shocking – the radiation regulatory system maintained by Canada is practically non-existent even as the triple meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan continue unabated and the Sea of Goo from the March 11, 2011 tsunami slowly makes its way to British Columbia shores.
Hundreds of food and drink radiation tests from ten countries are conducted and compiled by Radiation Station Sunshine Coast Australia’s Peter Daley. This is the single most comprehensive collection of samples and results in English that exist. Radiation Food Lab shows what’s hot and what’s not in this growing and dynamic study of consumables possible impacted by fallout from the ongoing triple meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan.
EnviroReporter.com travels across the country once again on the heels of Rad Road Trip, this time taking to the hot skies which sizzle with over five times the amount of radiation that would be normally expected at 30,000 in pre-Fukushima meltdowns days. Michigan snow shows significant beta presence yet precipitation radiation in Midwest off its highs from a year ago. Upon return, Los Angeles air tested by EnviroReporter.com and the EPA’s RadNet show L.A. Basin crackling with beta radiation in the atmosphere.
2012 was a banner year for EnviroReporter.com’s in-depth investigations of Fukushima, Rocketdyne, Runkle Canyon, fracking, perchlorate and a host of controversial environmental issues. New Media technology helped propel site’s coverage to new levels of investigative journalism excellence as scandal after scandal are exposed by the multi-award winning news website.
A thirteen state EnviroReporter.com road trip through the West and Midwest of the United States this fall revealed a lower fallout rate of suspected Fukushima than anticipated. There were, however, heightened radiation readings in Utah, Colorado and southwest Michigan.
The federal EPA and the state’s DTSC abandon the agreement to cleanup SSFL to background levels of contamination. Longtime activists are outraged at repeated public betrayals as the government blows $41.5 million in stimulus money in the process. Boeing’s lobbying power, and its success in turning DTSC into a ‘captured agency’ virtually assures that contamination will continue to gush into the L.A. River, the object of a $2 billion renovation around which L.A.’s master plan is based. December 12 EPA meeting hears calls for investigation of the agency’s misappropriation of millions that were supposed to be the guide for the DTSC cleanup to background. Boeing’s PR flack, and author of its meltdown makeover, Gary Polakovic, shows up at the meeting unchastened and is warmly greeted by astroturf activist John Luker.
Boeing’s huge lobbying war chest, one of the five highest corporate lobbyist coffers in the country, has turned Cal-EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control into a “captured agency” say Rocketdyne activists. Community members say DTSC appeared to fold in a lawsuit brought by Boeing over Santa Susana Field Laboratory, not challenging false statements in litigation. Encouraged by this backpedaling, another SSFL polluter, NASA, tries to back out of cleanup agreement which is greeted with citizen outrage. Boeing plans to leave lethal strontium-90 in its dirt at 430 to 43,000 times background where its astroturf collaborators claim no more cleanup is needed. The amounts of carcinogens that could be left behind will be staggering if Boeing succeeds in selling SSFL as “no significant risk to human health today” as Gary Polakovic’s plan puts it.