REAL HOT PROPERTY
A popular Brentwood dog park on Veterans Administration property is build over an old radioactive waste dump that may soon be unearthed by proposed development.
by Michael Collins
EnviroReporter.com – May 18, 2006
SUVs and luxury sedans glide into the Barrington Dog Park parking lot just south of Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood. Industry types and soccer moms chatter away on cell phones as they pop out of their vehicles with their canine charges. Beagles and boxers bound onto the pavement ready to romp with regulars like Australian Shepherd dogs named Mick Jagger and Bella and pugs called Lola, Daphne and Spanky.
The park is popular with Brentwood resident Dustin Hoffman and other celebrities including Kirstin Dunst and Owen Wilson. The Brentwood Dog Park hosts an annual “Bow wow ween” in October, officiated by “NoTORIous” television star and head dog contest judge Tori Spelling whose seven-year-old pug is named Mimi La Rue. The 2004 show attracted 1,500 canine and feline lovers and held a silent auction with items donated by George Clooney,Courtney Thorne-Smith and James Gandolfino. Bow wow ween featured a mobile microchip clinic, dog masseuse, a canine costume contest and even a cat cemetery with mock tombstones.
The dog park’s Halloween festivities might not be too scary, but what lurks beneath its soil is downright frightening. Unbeknownst to pet owners, the off-leash park is partially situated over an old nuclear and chemical dump. From (1948) to 1968, UCLA and the West LA Veterans Administration, now called the Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Healthcare Center, used the land adjacent and under the park to get rid of radioactive biomedical research waste on the northwest reaches of the VA.
Now this forgotten radioactive waste, hazardous for thousands of years, has come back to haunt the VA which is looking at options to develop the land ostensibly to help the cash-strapped department. In the process PricewaterhouseCoopers, the VA’s contractor on the project, has reported that the nuke dump is even larger than previously known and is under the athletic fields of the VA-adjacent Brentwood School. Faced with questions about these hottest revelations, the VA has falsely portrayed the dump as harmless, employing bad science and obfuscation to hide the dregs of years of oft-time bizarre and cruel animal and human radiation experimentation conducted by the VA and UCLA for decades in the last century.
The VA and UCLA were part of America’s Cold War massive enterprise to understand the biological effects of radiation on humans and animals. These efforts produced radiation waste that was disposed of as easily as burying, say, a dead animal. Carcasses of radioactive lab dogs, cats and a menagerie of animals make up around half of the toxic trash deep-sixed in the dirt off of Barrington Avenue. The dumping was done before regulations were created to carefully control the insidious threat that unencumbered rad waste disposal poses.
Barrels full of radioactive tritium, carbon-14 and at least thirteen other isotopes, along with contaminated biomedical lab waste, were also tossed or poured into this dump in trenches and holes with nary a record of the dumping for the first years of operation. One prevalent radionuclide in the dump is carbon-14 with a half-life of 5,730 years. The location was also used as a chemical waste disposal site for the VA and UCLA.