By Michael Collins

LA Weekly – October 14, 1999

Rocketdying - Navaho rocket

Military-industrial giant Rocketdyne has been reeling the last few weeks from a barrage of negative publicity about pollution problems at its Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has demanded a more stringent cleanup at the San Fernando/ Simi valleys–straddling site.

And Channel 2 News produced a four-part exposé, albeit one that rehashed material presented first in Offbeat and elsewhere.

But what really caught our attention was the recent admission by NASA official Allen Elliott that military testing had contributed to the contamination.

At a public meeting last month of the task force overseeing the cleanup, Elliott said that 77 percent of the 21,509 engine tests conducted 1954-83 at the lab were for the Department of Defense.

Rocketdyne officials had accused this reporter of lying when I disclosed last year that the company was a major supplier of America’s nuclear arsenal.

Now, we learn that not only were engines for the nuclear-tipped Navaho, Atlas and Jupiter missiles tested at the Rocketdyne site.

About a third of the 1.73 million gallons of the toxic solvent TCE, used to hose down the engines, may have seeped into the soil, Elliott said. The Cold War lives on.