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.
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 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.
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.
Boeing greenwashes the polluted Rocketdyne site above the San Fernando Valley by pushing for and offering to fund an “astroturf” Community Advisory Group (CAG) and, with the help of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, eliminates the long-established SSFL Interagency Work Group. E-mails and interviews detail how Boeing and DTSC put all their support in the CAG petitioner, Christina Walsh, who has threatened, harassed and libeled community members, elected officials and the media. With other astroturf targets like open-space advocate John Luker, friend to Boeing meltdown makeover PR flack Gary Polakovic, the greenwashing of Rocketdyne is nearly complete.
Rocketdyne’s litany of environmental accidents, spills, meltdowns and disasters has been no impediment to lab owner Boeing’s campaign of self-congratulations over its “open space vision.” EnviroReporter.com obtains exclusive footage of sloppy Boeing demolition work sending clouds of dusty goo into the San Fernando Valley. Intense radiological and chemical contamination carry very real consequences as studies on workers show and tragic stories of sick former employees and community members attest.
Boeing’s meltdown makeover begins with a media campaign aimed to convince the press and public that the polluted Santa Susana Field Laboratory is clean enough right now for a park. To wipe away memories of decades of meltdowns, chemical and radiation dumping, spilling and burning, a former Los Angeles Times reporter, Gary Polakovic, crafts a plan to sell the “a site with a sordid past to one with potential.” Only problem: the secret plan to snow Southern California media and movers and shakers that Rocketdyne is clean is now revealed by EnviroReporter.com and the Los Angeles Daily News.
EnviroReporter.com exposes Boeing’s meltdown makeover in this five-part expose. Boeing hires a former LA Times writer, Gary Polakovic, to craft a plan selling the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory as clean enough for a park. 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 U.S. EPA has spent millions on assessing the radiation and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, the old Rocketdyne site in the hills between Chatsworth and Simi Valley, California. In this Ventura County Reporter news feature, we find out that not only is Rocketdyne far more polluted than previously thought, even in places twice cleaned by lab owner Boeing and nuclear area responsible party, the Department of Energy, we learn that U.S. EPA has deliberately skewed the cleanup numbers. The result could be radionuclides like cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium-239/240 being left in place at high levels in violation of agreements between the State and DOE.
Shocking new radiation readings from the old Rocketdyne Santa Susana Field Laboratory show cesium-137 at nearly 9,300 times normal background levels along with a witches’ brew of deadly radionuclides on “The Hill.” Worse yet, the U.S. EPA has bait and switched the radiation background numbers threatening an agreement to clean the radioactive site back to its normal condition. Sly maneuver fools legislator and nuclear watchdogs.
EnviroReporter.com has confirmed through two independent sources that signing of final agreements between the California EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) and NASA for the cleanup of the former Santa Susana Field Laboratory site in Simi Valley will happen later today.
EnviroReporter.com weeds out disgruntled Rocketdyne commenters freshly aroused by new LA Weekly article “Rocketdyne Cleanup Won’t Help Runkle Canyon.” What once were anonymous comment posters now find themselves on the receiving end of being outed. New technology finds function illumninating the phonies that are lighting up the Weekly‘s comment page.
A celebration of forty years of nuclear watchdog activism by Dan Hirsch’s Committee to Bridge the Gap brings out a Who’s Who of environmentalists recently. CBG’s numerous ‘David versus Goliath’ victories are recounted as Hirsch issues a new call to veteran activists to act now to save the planet.
Bonnie Klea is the Atomic Avenger, an American who has taken her considerable skills and perseverance to fight for the rights of the nation’s nuclear workers many of which have suffered terribly for the work they performed at the height of the Cold War. Klea exemplifies what a real American hero does when faced with insurmountable odds — get cracking! Her efforts are now paying off, literally, to the tune of millions of dollars of compensation for America’s nuclear cowboys who rode on the edge of radiation technology which sometimes exacted a terrible toll.
EnviroReporter.com discovers a pathway for pollutants from rocket test stands into the soil and groundwater of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. In the early 1950s, a rocket crew member figured out how to keep rocket exhaust flames from melting the bottom of not only the test stands, but the rock they were standing on: use cascading showers of water to cool the hot zone. The result may have been to massively spread poisonous rocket fuel on a level not previously known. Finding may help explain one major contributing factor at the astronomically polluted lab.
Recruiting men and women for aerospace and experimental nuclear reactor work in the 1950s for Rocketdyne was art, literally. The company used colorful brochures to attract the best and the brightest.
California EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control issues a new draft consent order regarding the cleanup of the old Rocketdyne Santa Susana Field Laboratory that now includes site owner Boeing and requires that the company, NASA and the Department of Energy adhere to the strictest cleanup standards passed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. Environmental activists like Simi Valley’s Radiation Rangers are thrilled by this renewed effort to remediate the pollution left at the site contaminated by chemicals and radiation and home to America’s worst uncontained nuclear reactor meltdown.
The old Bowl Test Facility has extremely contaminated soil like much of the rest of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. What sets this rocket testing area apart from the rest of Rocketdyne is that it duplicates the Nazi rocket test stand design for the terrifying V-2 rocket that killed thousands of civilians and soldiers in World War II. Today Bowl sits as a silent and deadly reminder of Southern California’s Nazi-influenced past.
Former Rocketdyne toxics chief, Norman E. Riley, blasts Department of Toxics Substances Control as an agency “where obfuscation, abdication of authority, collusion, and other contemptible behaviors currently trump honesty and integrity.” In a fiery e-mail to EnviroReporter.com, Riley admits misleading community regarding Runkle Canyon and that no public comments about cleanup plan were used.