Half an hour east of Hollywood, the San Gabriel Valley boasts stars of its own, with toxic behavior that would make even Justin Bieber blanch. On March 22, three Toxies – carcinogenic solvents trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE) and the solid rocket fuel oxidizer perchlorate – crashed a Baldwin Park community meeting held by Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (D – El Monte) to discuss groundwater contamination in the San Gabriel Valley. Floating in the groundwater and imbued in the soil are toxic amounts of the carcinogenic solvents trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE) and the solid rocket fuel oxidizer perchlorate. These chemicals are so pervasive in Southern California and across the nation that they’ve become stars in The Toxies, a multi-media campaign to promote public awareness about toxic chemicals and health. All the while, EnviroReporter.com has discovered that thousands of people in the San Gabriel Valley may be inadvertently be being exposed to cancer-causing solvents in their own homes and places of business.
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 Los Angeles City Council votes unanimously to demand that NASA clean its polluted 450 acres at the Santa Susana Laboratory to background levels of radiation and chemical contamination. The victory comes courtesy of Councilmen Mitch Englander and Dennis Zine, two Republicans who aren’t fooled by NASA’s crafty maneuvering and Boeing’s meltdown makeover. Activists in city hall rejoice in victory which could save Los Angeles River from decades more pollution sluicing off the former Rocketdyne lab, site of three partial meltdowns and astronomical radiological and chemical contamination.
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.
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.
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.
EnviroReporter.com weeds out disgruntled Rocketdyne commenters freshly aroused by new LA Weekly article “Rocketdyne Cleanup Won’t Help Runkle Canyon.” What once were anonymous comment posters now find themselves on the receiving end of being outed. New technology finds function illumninating the phonies that are lighting up the Weekly‘s comment page.
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.
A celebration of forty years of nuclear watchdog activism by Dan Hirsch’s Committee to Bridge the Gap brings out a Who’s Who of environmentalists recently. CBG’s numerous ‘David versus Goliath’ victories are recounted as Hirsch issues a new call to veteran activists to act now to save the planet.
Bonnie Klea is the Atomic Avenger, an American who has taken her considerable skills and perseverance to fight for the rights of the nation’s nuclear workers many of which have suffered terribly for the work they performed at the height of the Cold War. Klea exemplifies what a real American hero does when faced with insurmountable odds — get cracking! Her efforts are now paying off, literally, to the tune of millions of dollars of compensation for America’s nuclear cowboys who rode on the edge of radiation technology which sometimes exacted a terrible toll.
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.
This ethereal photograph from December 12, 1960 shows a rocket test at the Bravo test stand on NASA’s part of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The golden tones and aquamarine color make this previously unpublished photograph one of the most awe-inspiring images we’ve ever seen of a rocket test at the lab.
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?”
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.”
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.