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.
Agency commitments to the SSFL cleanup, radioactive debris, and Runkle Canyon dust cause a stir at SSFL Work Group meeting. Lab owner Boeing has been illegally dumping and recycling radioactive metal, concrete and asphalt which can end up in the consumer product stream as kids’ braces, bicycles and playgrounds. Radiation findings are now of special concern because KB Home has started construction on hundreds of homes on Area IV-bordering Runkle Canyon. Residents demanded answers about construction dust that is landing on their cars, solar panels and yards.
Cleanup detractors claim remediating nuclear and chemical contamination at SSFL is bad, and government agencies are complicit in the disinformation campaign. Recent DTSC meetings see boasts that eating dirt at the lab wouldn’t be hazardous even if “the level of contamination was between 600 and a 1,000 times background level.” Not to be outdone, the attorney for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash lays claim to the entire SSFL as “sacred” Native American property, potentially exempt from cleanup.
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.
A hastily-arranged press conference call Tuesday revealed Cal-EPA Department of Toxic Substances Control’s strategy in dealing with revelations of illegally dumping and recycling radioactive material from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL): feign outrage and boldly claim, without proof, that DTSC hadn’t done anything wrong.
Consumer Watchdog and a coalition of environmental groups threatened to sue California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control and Department of Public Health over Boeing tearing down radioactive structures at the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory.
The federal EPA and the state’s DTSC abandon the agreement to cleanup SSFL to background levels of contamination. Longtime activists are outraged at repeated public betrayals as the government blows $41.5 million in stimulus money in the process. Boeing’s lobbying power, and its success in turning DTSC into a ‘captured agency’ virtually assures that contamination will continue to gush into the L.A. River, the object of a $2 billion renovation around which L.A.’s master plan is based. December 12 EPA meeting hears calls for investigation of the agency’s misappropriation of millions that were supposed to be the guide for the DTSC cleanup to background. Boeing’s PR flack, and author of its meltdown makeover, Gary Polakovic, shows up at the meeting unchastened and is warmly greeted by astroturf activist John Luker.
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.
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.
[This is an expanded version of a December 27, 2010 LA Weekly blog post entitled “Arnold Schwarzenegger backs down on gutting of California's Green Chemistry Initiative” where your comments are also invited as well as here.]
In the face of withering media coverage in LA Weekly and elsewhere, the Schwarzenegger Administration has pulled an about-face on [...]
Environmentalists are crying foul over the gutting of the Green Chemistry Initiative by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Department of Toxic Substances Control in his final days in office. Enviros say that slashed regulations hurt Californians and make a mockery out of Schwarzenegger’s ‘green governor’ legacy.
EnviroReporter.com has confirmed through two independent sources that signing of final agreements between the California EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) and NASA for the cleanup of the former Santa Susana Field Laboratory site in Simi Valley will happen later today.
California EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, in a sleight of land, has negotiated a deal with KB Home that would leave the 1,595-acre property virtually unremediated for radioactive and chemical contamination while the adjacent 2,850-acre Santa Susana Field Laboratory would be extensively cleaned up to background levels. Some Simi Valley residents, led by the Radiation Rangers, are wondering why what’s good enough for Rocketdyne isn’t good enough for Runkle.
Lost in the glow of an historic deal to clean up the sprawling Santa Susana Field Laboratory is the fact that the cleanup will stop at the edge of the property line and not include controversial Runkle Canyon which shows signs of being polluted by the same radiation and chemicals that the old Rocketdyne lab it abuts has been contaminated with.
EnviroReporter.com was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend Steve Cain, senior environmental planner for the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, on December 16. In our last communications, Steve provided us with information crucial to an investigation that could impact the health and well-being of untold numbers of people, speaking volumes about Steve’s integrity. We will miss this delightful and dedicated man.
Former Rocketdyne toxics chief, Norman E. Riley, blasts Department of Toxics Substances Control as an agency “where obfuscation, abdication of authority, collusion, and other contemptible behaviors currently trump honesty and integrity.” In a fiery e-mail to EnviroReporter.com, Riley admits misleading community regarding Runkle Canyon and that no public comments about cleanup plan were used.
Fifty years after America’s worst nuclear meltdown 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory’s “Sodium Reactor Experiment,” the government’s just-sacked head of lab remediation says the new Rocketdyne cleanup law is too strict and that site owner Boeing is going to sue the State over the standards. New Miller-McCune article and exclusive interviews.
The Coca complex was involved with several missile programs including Navaho, Atlas, J-2, Saturn V second Stage Battleship (five J-2s), Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME), and Delta IV Expendable Launch Vehicle Tanks. Within the 141-acre Group 4, which Coca Area shares with Delta Area and the Propellant Load Facility, there are a number of chemicals that Boeing and NASA are responsible for remediating. They include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including trichloroethylene or TCE, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals, and dioxins.
Will new Department of Toxic Substances Control leadership in Runkle Canyon mean that DTSC will actually take citizen and media concerns seriously over development of this property that borders the nuclear area of Rocketdyne? EnviroReporter.com analyzes what the department has previously ignored as we conclude our seven-part series “Railroading Runkle Canyon?”
When Runkle Canyon developer KB Home gave the Department of Toxic Substances Control 41 environmental reports on its property, EnviroReporter.com analyzed each one and presented its 28 pages of findings to DTSC in July 2008. The department ignored most of these analyses which we subsequently submitted to DTSC in February 2009 as public comments to the Runkle Canyon Response Plan. Will the department again ignore these questions and comments now that there is new leadership for the Runkle Canyon site?
D’Lanie Blaze questions developer KB Home’s use of controversial lab Dade Moeller & Associates to retest Runkle Canyon for strontium-90. Blaze reminds then-Department of Toxic Substances Control project head, Norm Riley, that Dade Moeller himself claimed that he’s “just not worried about radiation exposure because of the likelihood that we’ll soon have a cure for cancer.” Blaze burns DTSC over issue and questions if the Response Plan is a “dog and pony show.”
The Radiation Rangers ask why it sounds like the cleanup plan for Runkle Canyon is being decided without public input by the Department of Toxic Substances Control. Considering the stakes in the controversial canyon, where KB Home hopes to build 461 residences, the Rangers are demanding answers. Special week-long report.