KB Home rolls out the big guns at the Simi Valley Planning Commission meeting deciding whether the developer gets a five-year extension on its permit to build in Runkle Canyon. An extension, however, may be exactly what the activists need because it won’t force KB Home’s hand with two years left on its present permit.
For the first time in seven years of residents battling KB Home’s massive Runkle Canyon development in the shadow of the old Rocketdyne lab over pollution problems in the canyon, company representatives and the community face off at a Simi Valley Planning Commission meeting over a five-year option to build permit extension. The fur flies as the developer’s representative and his attorney, perhaps flustered by the vocal opposition to the project, proceed to embark on an odyssey of ‘factual inaccuracies’ about the controversial building scheme.
KB Home goes for a five year extension on a construction permit to build 461 residences in Runkle Canyon. Problem is that new contamination has been found on the site and evidence that the developer has blocked government requests for Clean Water Act data.
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.
On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Simi Valley’s Radiation Rangers take Runkle Canyon developer KB Home to task after news that its former head, Bruce Karatz, was convicted of four felonies secretly backdating stock options to the tune of $6.6 million and then lying to regulators about it. The Rangers are happy that Karatz may be incarcerated but point out that the residents of the Simi and San Fernando valleys still have to contend with one of Karatz’s most controversial aquisitions under his tenure at KB Home: Runkle Canyon. The Rangers demand that KB Home clean up the canyon which appears contaminated with high radiation, chemicals and heavy metal yet is planned for a 461 home community.
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.
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?
Aerospace Cancer Museum of Education’s founder and director Bill Bowling says that the Runkle Canyon cleanup plan is inadequate and doesn’t address toxic trichlorethylene being found on the property. Bowling calls out city of Simi Valley for not caring about issue and says that developer KB Home has a questionable environmental track record including building on land without removing unexploded bombs from a former bombing range.
“What is the purpose of us going to all that work trying to get to the bottom of this if it’s going to be ignored?” said “The Good Reverend John” Southwick, one of the Radiation Rangers. “This is serious business. Each and every one of our points is based in sound science and must be addressed by the department when DTSC gives KB Home the marching orders to clean up Runkle Canyon.”
The Department of Toxic Substances Control is about to approve a Runkle Canyon cleanup response plan. Interestingly, the DTSC project manager for the KB Home/DTSC cleanup agreement, Norm Riley, said nothing about all the public comments he had received about the plan, including the Radiation Ranger response plan comments.
Just who is in charge of Runkle Canyon? “The Good Reverend John” Southwick had the same question when he saw a July 16 Ventura County Star article about the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, which is looking at a $1.5 million shortfall in its upcoming budget yet plans to drop $1.5 million on a “Runkle Park” with no mention of the pollution problems that led to a cleanup agreement between the state government and developer KB Home.
Simi Valley’s Radiation Rangers uncover more than just contamination in Runkle Canyon – they’ve discovered that Runkle’s would-be developer KB Home promise to remove two giant mountains of slag material that are leaking pools of toxic sludge.
Historic meeting of the Department of Toxic Substances Control and citizens of the Simi and San Fernando valleys takes place January 28, 2009 in Simi Valley City Council Chambers. Committee to Bridge the Gap president, Dan Hirsch, rips Response Plan as “propoganda” and says 2004 Environmental Impact Report for Runkle Canyon, approved by City Council, was “fraudulent.”
The Simi Valley City Council indicated “support” for a new Runkle Canyon Supplemental Environmental Impact Report after the Radiation Rangers’ presentation at milestone meeting. More environmental tests were also ordered by State EPA of developer KB Home. DTSC’s Norm Riley said that he would review 2007 heavy metals tests of Runkle creek by the City and by the Radiation Rangers.
EnviroReporter.com completed its analysis of thousands of pages of KB Home reports submitted to Department of Toxic Substances Control as part of Voluntary Cleanup Agreement signed in April. Other critical documents were also analyzed, revealing that radiological and chemical contamination in Runkle Canyon may actually be worse than previously publicly known.
An historic agreement was enacted between Runkle Canyon developer KB Homes and Department of Toxic Substances Control on April 14, 2008. KB Homes pledged “full cooperation,” agreeing to supply DTSC with at least 41 extensive reports and documents for their inspection and pay for the $114,884 that this initial work will cost.
KB Home’s lab Dade Moeller & Associates has produced a 10-page report that shows strontium-90 radiation only a quarter of “background” for the area, and a fraction of previous sampling results. Simi Valley’s “split-samples,” to double-check KB Homes’ tests for accuracy, came in over a hundred times less than previous samplings.
The battle over the proposed 461-residence KB Home development in Runkle Canyon continues as Radiation Rangers and Simi Valley residents demanded a new Environmental Impact Report and a government meeting over pollution concerns at the Simi Valley City Council meeting October 22. It remains to be seen if a new law cleaning up Rocketdyne for parkland will affect the adjacent KB Home development.
The City of Simi Valley tested Runkle Canyon water and soil for arsenic on July 2 after the Radiation Rangers’ tests showed high levels of arsenic. The full Pat-Chem lab residents’ report was released July 6, adding 15 pages of non-detects for other chemicals to the two previously released pertinent pages.
Los Angeles CityBeat & ValleyBeat cover story “The Radiation Rangers” reveals high arsenic, nickel and vanadium in Runkle Canyon surface water. The Rangers hired Pat-Chem Laboratories to perform Runkle Canyon tests on Title 22 metals in water and soil after the City of Simi Valley rejected their request to inspect the water with them. The City instead cited a faulty KB Homes surface water report with missing data.
KB Home’s subcontractors claim that their testing indicates that only .26 out of a million people exposed to the Sr-90 at Runkle Canyon, even though the U.S. EPA clearly states otherwise. The government’s findings further highlight problems with the project’s EIR that EnviroReporter.com has analyzed. Those problems could give the city grounds to ask for a new EIR.