Half an hour east of Hollywood, the San Gabriel Valley boasts stars of its own, with toxic behavior that would make even Justin Bieber blanch. On March 22, three Toxies – carcinogenic solvents trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE) and the solid rocket fuel oxidizer perchlorate – crashed a Baldwin Park community meeting held by Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (D – El Monte) to discuss groundwater contamination in the San Gabriel Valley. Floating in the groundwater and imbued in the soil are toxic amounts of the carcinogenic solvents trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE) and the solid rocket fuel oxidizer perchlorate. These chemicals are so pervasive in Southern California and across the nation that they’ve become stars in The Toxies, a multi-media campaign to promote public awareness about toxic chemicals and health. All the while, EnviroReporter.com has discovered that thousands of people in the San Gabriel Valley may be inadvertently be being exposed to cancer-causing solvents in their own homes and places of business.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Like Wile E. Coyote roping himself to a perchlorate-powered rocket, the Los Angeles City Council is set to launch the city into unknown territory September 28. That’s when the council will make an historic deal to approve the $1.2 billion Farmers Field project in downtown adjacent Staples Center. If the council and mayor don’t douse the fuse of toxic fireworks at Farmers Field before it’s built, the city and it citizens could have just about the same amount of luck as the hapless cartoon character but with much more consequences.
AEG’s Farmers Field $1.2 billion project gets the go-ahead from the Los Angeles Planning Commission despite plan’s environmental impact report leaving out crucial data about the use of the toxic oxidizer perchlorate in fireworks the facility will be able to shoot off every day of the year when it opens, perhaps in 2017. Activists are concerned over health effects while Los Angeles Times takes project boosterism to new and unseemly lows. EIR obscured by toxic smoke may open up city and developer to future lawsuits from fans, players, employees and people living around Farmers Field and impacted by perchlorate and heavy metals in the bursts.
While activists march on Sacramento with demands to “Stop Fracking with California,” and historic chemical legislation comes to the United States Senate floor, EnviroReporter.com‘s Michael Collins takes on Fracking Chemical Cocktail and Trichloroethylene in The Toxies Tapes. More brawl than interview, TCE clobbers Collins who defiantly jousts with the volatile organic compound. The reporter then truly meets his match in “Frackie” where the chemistry sparks and the subject turns to drilling and fracking.
Fracking Chemical Cocktail heats up the Third Annual Toxies Awards for Bad Chemical Actors at the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood where the worst of the worst chemicals are honored for the harm they do to the environment. With new toxins to dishonor for the deadly work, the Toxies come through with a wild and wicked show that has to be the dirtiest awards celebration in Tinseltown.
EnviroReporter.com wins First Place for “Website – News Organization – Exclusive to the Internet” at the 54th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards Gala Dinner was held at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles June 24, 2012. The win for the website is a strong affirmation that our coverage of the ongoing Fukushima meltdowns is valued by alternative and mainstream media. The team of Denise Anne Duffield and Michael Collins, who serve as editor and reporter respectively for the website, also placed in the competition for Online Journalist of the Year and Online Investigative series also for their radiation contamination in North America work.
An LA Weekly investigation finds the cancer-causing chemicals trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) being used as the base of pepper sprays sold in California with no Prop. 65 warnings. Sprays with these carcinogens are being sold all over the country. True Value and Do It Best hardware stores sell PCE-based pepper sprays at the Southern California stores LA Weekly investigated.
Don’t count on being able to access uncensored information about Fukushima, or anything else, if SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) or its Senate version PIPA (the Protect IP Act) becomes law. A crucial vote on SOPA is January 24 in Washington D.C. which will possibly change the Internet forever.
Even the multiple meltdowns and melt-throughs in Japan at the worst nuclear reactor disaster in history can’t crimp the style of the Second Annual Toxies Red Carpet Awards for Bad Actor Chemicals taking place at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood California June 16, 2011 at 4 pm and is also streaming live on the Toxies website. This reporter’s favorite Toxie remains the silver siren with rocket booster boots named Perchlorate which has impacted water supplies in 43 states including California where millions drink this toxic rocket fuel oxidizer. Perchlorate the foxy Toxie redefines what it means to be bad.
EnviroReporter.com celebrates its Five Year Anniversary by looking at the beginnings of this investigative reporting and where its headed as we confront the reality of multiple meltdowns an ocean away and a government that assures the public there is no chance for radioactive exposure. Despite the grim outlook, miracles do happen, and the accomplishments of this website, totally $6 billion in saved land because of toxic contamination issues.
NASA backs off its plans to irradiate 18 squirrel monkeys in a $1.75 million experiment that our Pasadena Weekly investigation found was not only cruel and scientifically useless but also redundant since an Italian space radiation experiment, using humans not harmed, had already been underway to understand longterm cosmic radiation exposure’s effects on astronauts.
[This is an expanded version of a December 27, 2010 LA Weekly blog post entitled “Arnold Schwarzenegger backs down on gutting of California's Green Chemistry Initiative” where your comments are also invited as well as here.]
In the face of withering media coverage in LA Weekly and elsewhere, the Schwarzenegger Administration has pulled an about-face on [...]
Environmentalists are crying foul over the gutting of the Green Chemistry Initiative by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Department of Toxic Substances Control in his final days in office. Enviros say that slashed regulations hurt Californians and make a mockery out of Schwarzenegger’s ‘green governor’ legacy.
Deputy Editor, News of LA Weekly Jill Stewart surprises Michael Collins and EnviroReporter.com‘s editor Denise Duffield with word that our environmental exposés in the paper had made the finals in the AltWeekly Awards 2010 held by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies to be awarded July 16 in Toronto, Canada. Collins’ exposes on pollution hotspots Rocketdyne, Runkle Canyon, Corporate Pointe and the Brentwood nuclear dump resonate with the judges thanks in large part to these two delightful dynamos.
Just days before the 82nd Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, the First Annual Toxies Awards took place at the legendary Egyptian Theatre across the boulevard. A rogue’s gallery of “bad actors” with names like Trichloroethylene, Hydrofluoric Acid and Toluene competed for Toxies in this first-ever awards ceremony celebrating the worst of the 85,000 chemicals we come into contact with on a regular basis. One bad actor, Perchlorate, was a sleak silver rocket girl with thrusters for feet, so beautiful as fireworks, she was ‘the chemical that launched a thousand rockets’ including mine.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, home of America’s greatest robotic explorations of the heavens, isn’t sold on deep-sixing the manned space program. Part Two of a special Pasadena Weekly cover story investigation that also explores the origins of NASA’s manned space program, the brainchild of an infamous Nazi rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, whose V-2 rockets killed thousands during the London Blitz of World War II, rockets built by concentration camp slave labor who were worked to death, tortured and executed during the production of these American-coveted missiles. Von Braun is considered by NASA to be the 20th Century’s greatest rocketeer illustrating that one man’s Nazi is another man’s hero.