Rocketdyne Gallery 1

2,850-acre Santa Susana Field Laboratory AKA Rocketdyne in hills above Simi and San Fernando valleys in Southern California.

Rocketdyne Gallery 2 - Maps

Maps show where nuclear and rocketry work was done and where vast areas have been polluted. Also show drainages from SSFL form headwaters of the Los Angeles River as well as well as lead to Arroyo Simi.

RFI Groupings - Investigation Areas

Resource Conservation Recovery Act Facility Investigations, or RFI groupings, are areas characterized for contamination.

SSFL Area I - Gallery A

Area I consists of 671 acres owned by Boeing and 42 acres owned by NASA. Extensive land, surface and ground water contamination.

SSFL Area I - Gallery B

Area I includes former Thermal Treatment Facility and the rocket test sites Bowl, Canyon, and Advanced Propulsion Test Facility.

SSFL Area I - Gallery C

Area I contains the Bowl where accused Nazi war criminal Wernher von Braun got his American rocketeer career start re-creating his V-2 rocket test stands after World War II.

SSFL Area II - Gallery A

SSFL Area II includes Alpha and Bravo areas. Operational with three test stands beginning in 1955, Alpha supported first manned orbital flight of Atlas-Mercury in 1962. Extensively polluted.

SSFL Area II - Gallery B

Area II includes Coca complex that was involved with several missiles including Navajo, Atlas, J-2, Saturn V and Delta IV Expendable Launch Vehicle Tanks.

SSFL Area II - Gallery C

SSFL Area II includes Delta site constructed in 1957 for Thor engine testing and later modified for Lance J-2 programs. Area also used for loading propellant for Peacekeeper Stage IV.


Area III is astronomically polluted. Drainage drops down Bell Canyon and into Los Angeles River to east.

SSFL Ponds

Throughout SSFL are a number of chemical dump "ponds" which are extraordinarily polluted. Los Angeles River headwaters.


25 GALLERIES of Santa Susana Field Laboratory's Area IV. Extensive radiological and chemical contamination.

EPA Radiation Report meeting 12-12-12

Faced with a community incensed by EPA chucking out its own background standards, the EPA held its own meeting December 12 at the Grande Vista in Simi Valley. This time DTSC tagged along with the federal agency, toxic twins telling tall tales. Television crews swarmed the hotel lobby looking for concerned folks to interview. They found no shortage of community members as well as a squad of active astroturfers doing Boeing's bidding. Amazingly, but not surprisingly because of the monies probably involved, Makeover Earth's Gary Polakovic showed up even as his Boeing meltdown makeover plan had been exposed in the Daily News and The meeting mirrored the December 5 DTSC show, where supposed experts tried to convince the audience that while they could detect background levels of radiation and establish a baseline over which remediation is required, they couldn't guarantee that DTSC could. Therefore, according to this twisted logic, it was necessary to toss the background numbers and come up with an incomprehensible formula that would result in vastly higher cleanup levels. The only difference, however, was the EPA consumed $41.5 million to come up with none of the requirements they were charged with: determining background and mapping out where was the contaminated soil and groundwater.

EPA Radiological Survey of Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone

The 4,727-page EPA report "Draft Final Radiological Characterization of Soils, Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone, Area IV Radiological Study" showed that the radiation contamination across Area IV of SSFL was far greater than previously known. Huge hits of strontium-90, plutonium 239-240 and cesium-137 are mapped showing wide swaths of radioactive soil, roads, and reactor remains. One Area IV road is contaminated with strontium-90 at 67 times background. Cesium-137 clocks in at 1,016 times normal in one spot and a stupefying 1,918 times background in another. Nearby, a borehole under an old reactor finds a hot spot deep beneath the surface: Plutonium 239-240 over 24 feet down intensely ionizing at over 92 times background. What makes these enormous radiation readings even more alarming is the fact that most of Area IV has supposedly been remediated, twice in some cases. Plus, government surveys signed off on these areas declaring them fit for unrestricted use.

2012 SSFL FoLAR photos

The highly contaminated Alpha rocket test stands are the headwaters of the Los Angeles River beginning in eastern Ventura County. Friends of the Los Angeles River, FoLAR, has fought since 1985 to "protect and restore the natural and historic heritage of the Los Angeles River and its riparian habitat through inclusive planning, education and wise stewardship," according to its website. One of its co-founders is Lewis MacAdams, a much-lauded poet, activist, journalist, and the L.A. River's most powerful advocate. Last February, MacAdams went with Bill Bowling to look at the headwaters of the Los Angeles River itself, Rocketdyne. Accompanied by Merrilee Fellows, a manager in Risk Communications at NASA, they explored rocket test stand complexes and runoff waste "ponds," one even equipped with an old Rockwell International row boat nevertheless kept shipshape. This was the first time MacAdams had been to the river's headwaters and he was none too pleased. “Speaking for myself, the headwaters of the L.A. River are a stinking cesspool visually," MacAdams told, and can't help but have negative implications for the river downstream.” All photos by William Preston Bowling 2012

Special thanks for the use of many of these images to the Aerospace Cancer Museum of Education, Rocketdyne Archives, H2OhNo!!!, the Department of Toxic Substances Control and Department of Energy, as well as various municipal, state and federal government agencies.