REAL HOT PROPERTY
“We don’t know how they made the wrong assumptions, not knowing the site, not talking to experts like Ben (Spivey)” said Fallen. “The report should have gone through us. Ben, who’s the expert, was not consulted.”
Considering the so-called ‘expertise’ encountered in this meeting, I could only imagine what the never-seen PwC answers were to my questions. What secrets was the VA hiding?
“Let’s hope that you debunk the myth,” Daniels said as the meeting came to a close. When asked what myth she was referring to, the VA official fell silent.
Given the shaky science and baseless hyperbole surrounding the Brentwood waste disposal site, and the fact that it’s in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Los Angeles, it is no surprise that the VA is nervous about the final Team PwC report. “VA is not in receipt of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ final report submission and is therefore not able to provide comment on a document clearly identified as draft with a disclaimer regarding factual and editorial errors,” wrote Susan Pendergrass, DrPH, Director, Office of Strategic Initiatives in a Feb. 23 follow-up letter.
Eliciting true and accurate information about the CARES West LA VA conundrum may be made easier by a March 27 letter to VA Secretary Nicholson from the House of Representatives Committee of Government Reform. The letter, signed by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), and Waxman, the ranking minority whip, requests the contract between the VA and PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC and its contractors and a whole slew of documents related to the CARES process at the West LA VA.
The letter also posed questions about who excavated the radioactive material from the Brentwood School athletic field and where was it disposed. “Has the public been informed that contaminates are buried under or near the location of the Brentwood School athletic facility? Whose decision was it to leave the non-excavated radioactive medical waste in place?”
With the advent of the CARES initiative, how the community handles the possibility of development of the old nuclear and chemical dump remains to be seen. But for the few folks left that remember the lost dump, the idea of building out the property is an anathema.
“Given this unsettling history, why would anyone in their right mind want to ignore this dump and believe anything the VA has to say about it?” said former CBG staffer Ramberg. “When the Ahmanson Ranch development crashed in 2003 over concerns that neighboring Rocketdyne had polluted it with radiological and chemical contamination, the developer Washington Mutual had to walk away. It just doesn’t pay to develop ‘hot’ property. But it might pay to properly test the place to see how poisonous it is.”
There is a distinct difference between the failed development at Ahmanson Ranch and the VA’s Brentwood nuke dump – Washington Mutual didn’t know of the pollution problems with their property until this reporter exposed them. In this case, the Veterans Administration either doesn’t have a clue as to the radionuclides in their dump because of a poor understanding of radio-science or, perhaps worse, the department has made a conscious decision to ignore them. It is unlikely that either scenario will be comforting to the residents of Brentwood.