2012 was a banner year for EnviroReporter.com’s in-depth investigations of Fukushima, Rocketdyne, Runkle Canyon, fracking, perchlorate and a host of controversial environmental issues. New Media technology helped propel site’s coverage to new levels of investigative journalism excellence as scandal after scandal are exposed by the multi-award winning news website.
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.
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.
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.
After extensive investigation, EnviroReporter.com may have discovered the source of Runkle Canyon’s heavy metal nightmare which has stalled KB Home’s development plans for over two years – Rocketdyne’s old polluted Empire State Atomic Development Authority site sits on top of Burro Flats Fault which transports toxins down into the canyon that the Radiation Rangers want tested.
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?
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.”
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.
DTSC’s Cypress office informed EnviroReporter that it had amended its Aerojet Chino Hills website to accurately reflect where the polluted 800-acre facility is located. Three weeks later, the DTSC Envirostor page hasn’t been touched. But that’s not the worst of it.
Walsh’s 13 pages of “Comments on the Runkle Canyon Response Plan” include photographs and maps. This well-crafted document clearly illustrates Walsh’s concerns about the canyon. Her expertise and ability to crunch numbers, analyze data, and conceptualize how it all stacks up in the grand scheme of things are remarkable.
As we continue our “Railroading Runkle Canyon?” series, the Department of Toxic Substances Control replaces Rocketdyne and Runkle Canyon’s cleanup project manager criticized by the Radiation Rangers in the series. Surprise move shocks community reeling from simultaneous revelations that Boeing has not signed off on the cleanup agreement that will cost hundreds of millions.
“I sometimes wonder if we’re talking about the same place,” says the Reverend John Southwick of the Radiation Rangers. “Not only are DTSC’s orders to KB Home inadequate, unless the instructions for more radiation testing are significant; the department missed the most important stuff.”
“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.
It’s likely that the Radiation Rangers will attend and may have questions of the panel about our revelations that Boeing claimed that no offsite testing had been done in Runkle Canyon and that it didn’t border the 2,850-acre lab, when the very same report showed otherwise.
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.
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.
Denise Anne Duffield, my multi-award-winning website designer, editor and better half, pulls out all the stops in this redesign which now features a blog, posts with comments, an RSS feed, and easy ways to share articles with others via e-mail and social bookmarking sites.
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.”