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.
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.
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.
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.
Now why Boeing would mischaracterize the number of trucks that will be heading down into the San Fernando Valley with no assurance of the environmental protections that DTSC used at Sage Ranch? And why would Boeing not volunteer to have mandatory environmental protections during this massive operation?
There is an estimated one million cubic yards of contaminated soil on the site, which suffered the worst meltdown in American history in 1959. Over 74,000 truckloads of toxic cargo could rumble through the San Fernando Valley over the lifetime of the cleanup, scheduled for completion in 2017.
EnviroReporter.com has discovered evidence that Boeing-supplied documents contain false data as it pertains to Runkle Canyon, which calls into question whether additional sampling and testing in Runkle Canyon may be necessary to fully and accurately investigate the nature of the contamination and its source.
Gov. Schwarzenegger terminates the uncertainty of Rocketdyne cleanup with historic move that keeps California in charge – for now. The long bitter battle of Rocketdyne was resolved on January 15, 2008 with State negotiating highest cleanup standards for intensely-polluted Boeing lab.
The Department of Toxics Substances Control has begun the massive cleanup of a Rocketdyne dump next to Sage Ranch State Park. A trio of environmentalists found a debris field in March 2007 that included blocks of asbestos and pipes lined with antimony. In June, DTSC’s Norm Riley accompanied the citizens to the dump and validated their concerns.
On October 12 Gov. Schwarzenegger signed SB-990, a bill championed by State Senator Sheila Kuehl to clean up Rocketdyne to Superfund standards. Boeing agreed to pay for remediation and to donate the lab to the State for parkland. Government oversight will be headed by DTSC, and transfer of the 2,850 acre lab to the State is prohibited until cleanup goals are completed.