13 of 43 fuel rods of the Sodium Reactor Experiment experienced melting in the 1959 partial meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

EnviroReporter.com – July 30, 2009

We were barely catching our breath late Wednesday after last week’s launch of the redesigned EnviroReporter.com that was coordinated with breaking the LA Weekly news story “Wrinkles in Runkle Canyon – As developers eye the land, is Boeing downplaying the old nuclear accident nearby?” The new website allowed us to back up and supplement the Weekly article in a post called “Meltdown Dustup” with photos, documents, interviews, and films having to do with the country’s worst meltdown in 1959 just 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The reaction to the new website and article was strong and encouraging.

We were proud of our you-are-there account of the meltdown in the paper and the reactor worker interview online, which revealed finally which way the partially melted reactor fallout blew – west into the San Fernando Valley. We thought there might be reaction to our revelations that Boeing might have perjured itself in a report denying that Runkle Canyon borders the old Rocketdyne lab, or that there were tests done in the canyon for contamination. Indeed, Boeing contacted us today and said, basically, ‘you’re right, we’ll fix the report’ and that pretty much ties off that part of the story. Nice.

But less than an hour later, we came across a jaw-dropping article on ex-Los Angeles Daily News Editor Ron Kaye’s “OurLA.org” that was, to say the least, unexpected.

A meltdown denier. And not just any run of the mill meltdown denier; this one claims to have interviewed 20 scientist-types who worked on the Sodium Reactor Experiment who aren’t named and ask at the end of the article to not be contacted because they are so old. But wait, they didn’t say that at all. Chris Rowe’s editor says, setting up the piece, Rowe “wrote this story from their perspective as an open letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

Didn’t Kaye notice this novel way to “debunk” the “meltdown myth”? Did he bother to see what this person has been quoted saying on other websites, like EnviroReporter.com, where she decried the cleanup of the lab as authorized by the Governor because “not only will we lose endangered species, but artifacts from the Chumash people and other prehistoric groups will be lost in the cleanup process.”

Huh? Don’t statements like these give good editors pause? Besides breaking every journalism rule in the book, the piece cobbles together a series of amateurish gibberish trying to dispel the notion that there was a meltdown on The Hill. The “Special Report” not only doesn’t sell the meltdown denier hogwash, it ends up being laughable even as it mischaracterizes this tragic event in 1959.

But the laughs wear off when considering a 2006 study we reported on that said between 260 to 1,800 people within a 62-mile radius of the east Ventura County lab got cancer from the meltdown. The comprehensive state-funded study reported that the SRE disaster released hundreds of times more radiation than Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island meltdown did in 1979.

Last week’s Weekly article continues the paper’s coverage of this massively contaminated lab that we began in 1998. But we didn’t get there first. Warren Olney broke this story for KNBC back in 1979 and even the Daily News broke big stories around this disaster.

The government has already dropped a quarter billion on cleaning up just 90 acres out of 2,850 in total — just the nuclear area where the meltdown occurred — an area that sits above Runkle Canyon where KB Home wants to build 461 homes despite evidence of radiological and chemical pollution, very possibly from the lab.

This is no joking matter. Contamination from this lab has affected thousands over decades and still does to this day. This kind of so-called “journalism” is described on Kaye’s website as: “OurLA.org is the news and information website for Los Angeles where everyone can be a reporter and exercise the right to free speech, learn from each other and get the benefit of the work of professional journalists as we work together to reinvigorate the civic and political culture of LA.”

“Where everyone can be a reporter”? What about being an editor? Did Kaye or anyone editing this website bother with even an iota of fact and source checking? And OurLA.org gets funding through Community Partners, a group that acts as a fiscal sponsor to organizations that don’t officially have non-profit status, to post this piffle?

DEBUNKING THE MELTDOWN MYTH– Santa Susana 50 Years Later” is billed as a “Special Report by Chris Rowe” splashed across the website’s homepage. The name of the article is an equally addled “What Really Happened When Santa Susana’s Nuclear Reactor Overheated.”

A nuclear meltdown is “overheated”? Dang, that ain’t so bad.

But Rowe’s writing has just begun to sizzle:

We have recently read media accounts that the “Sodium Reactor Experiment” is being called a “meltdown”. At most, the Department of Energy refers to it as a “partial meltdown”.

So now the meltdown is “partial” not just “overheated”?

The media has said that this was an “uncontained facility” unlike a “traditional domed facility” of today. This is true – but there was no need for a “traditional domed facility” because this was not a “Water Cooled Reactor” – a reactor which could be damaged by a steam explosion. Sodium was chosen as the coolant because of the higher operating temperature, low pressure and no chance of a coolant explosion.

Hmmm. That seems odd. Every kind of modern reactor, especially sodium-cooled ones, has a containment dome to control radiation leaks in case of an accident. In sodium’s case, these reactors fell out of favor due to the fact that liquid sodium catches fire when exposed to air and explodes when it mixes with water. If there had been a containment dome at the SRE, the event would have been far less dangerous to the environment, workers and the people living downwind of the lab.

Yet with our eyewitness account in LA Weekly last week of all hell breaking loose in the reactor and everyone running out of the building and the whole lab being quarantined, the article maintains that “this structure was not considered contaminated enough to require evacuation by its employees.” So they called it a two-week lunch break?

How this chestnut got beyond Kaye mystifies me:

At no time were any employees or any community members in any danger. Atomics International workers wore dosimeters to monitor their exposure to radiation. They also wore film badges that were checked on a monthly basis. There was always a health physicist present.

Actually, it was reported in several publications that these badges were taken from workers and stored in a safe because they were getting overexposed, as were the workers wearing them. Our eyewitness, John Pace, told me that as well.

So where does Rowe come up with this stuff? It gets almost comical:

Why are we employees revealing ourselves today? We have heard the media reports recently that have taken what we have achieved for science – the safe domestic use of nuclear energy, and made it into a “worst case scenario” for the “Sodium Reactor Experiment”.

The SRE had a “hand and foot” monitor that employees utilized on exiting the building. Only one time did this sensor alarm. Investigation determined that the radiation was outside the building, fallout from a Russian nuclear test.

Rowe would have you believe that the radiation outside the uncontained reactor that suffered a partial meltdown actually came from the other side of the world, not from the other side of the door.

We believe that the activists in the community are creating alarm. Our friends are being frightened by media reports on the SRE. We want you to know that we had the most exposures to the SRE, or we worked at the SSFL at some point before, during, or after the SRE incident. We are alive and healthy today, and we do not believe that anyone has any health problems that can be attributed to the “Sodium Reactor Experiment”.

We, Kimosabe?

We, as in Chris Rowe, who wrote the article.

But the ending is priceless:

But what can be more telling of the safety of the SRE than having Mayor Sam Yorty of Los Angeles at its controls in 1963. “Mayor Sam” was given the “Honorary Title” of Nuclear Reactor Operator”.

If we can answer any further questions on this site, some of us will be glad to do so. Others find that our ages prevent further involvement. We request that our names and contact information be kept confidential with respect for our ages and for our families.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Chris Rowe would write this nonsense. Her May 16, 2008 e-mail to me pretty much summed up her writing skills.

“I wrote a piece on the SSFL a while back,” Rowe wrote. “It came out to 4500 words. Of course, no one will print that for me. But I want you to know that I cited one of your articles as a source (probably should have gone to the primary source, but who has the time.)”

That’s right; who has the time to actually go to a source when you can just be it yourself? And, say, shorten the piece to 2,900 words and shuck it off on an editor who’ll do anything to get a rise, even having provocateurs impersonating reporters impersonating supposed sources positing a revisionist version of a seminal event in Southern California.

If old pro’s like Ron Kaye can sign off on rubbish like this, then “citizen journalism” has hit a new low.

25 Years of Award-Winning SSFL/Rocketdyne Reporting


  1. Check out our new Facebook post on the Meltdown Denier

    We’re coming up on the 60th anniversary of the partial nuclear reactor meltdown of the Sodium Reactor Experiment which means “Meltdown Denier” Chris Rowe is back at it. Perhaps reckless Rowe was thinking that folks have forgotten her endless campaign of natter and truly poorly written tripe to distort what actually happened at SSFL during its 1959 partial nuclear meltdown that released into the environment hundreds of times more of certain deadly radionuclides than Three Mile Island did in 1979. Now Rowe flogs her cancer claiming she has received more radiation than the workers at SSFL. When one exploits their own disease to lie, one will pay the price.

    Rowe’s numerous attempts to intimidate my wife, Denise Anne Duffield, and I are too numerous to mention but this photo says plenty. Taken by me November 5, 2015, it shows the Meltdown Denier acting like she’s going to pull something out of her purse as she gives me the ‘bad eye’ at the West Hills Neighborhood Council where someone from the dais told her to sit down:

    Check out our new Facebook post on the Meltdown Denier

  2. A Meltdown Denier milestone was met April 28, 2015 when the Department of Toxic Substances Control held its Community Biannual Update – Santa Susana Field Laboratory at Simi Valley High School. There, after yet another droning complaint about the use of the term “meltdown” to describe the partial meltdown in 1959 at the Sodium Reactor Experiment, Ray Leclerc, Assistant Deputy Director of the DTSC Cleanup Program, told Chris Rowe that the term would not be removed from government documents and descriptions of the SRE.

  3. @Jan Beyea: The Department of Energy refers to the partial meltdown of the Sodium Reactor Experiment simply as a “meltdown.” Considering the source, this is the most accurate term to describe the catastrophic disaster. As previously noted, at least two other partial meltdowns plagued the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in 1964 and 1969 leaving astronomical amounts of radiation on the property as we exposed in subsequent articles Radiation Readings Soar at Rocketdyne* and Rocketdyne Still Hot.

    The reader can get a good grasp of what actually happened on The Hill with our feature 50 YEARS AFTER AMERICA’S WORST NUCLEAR MELTDOWN – Human error helped worsen a nuclear meltdown just outside Los Angeles, and now human inertia has stymied the radioactive cleanup for half a century.

    Meltdown denier Chris Rowe has not stopped her misleading antics at public meetings where she mixes misinformation with ad nauseam bragging about her so-called expertise. Here she is in action December 10, 2013 at a Department of Toxic Substances Control community meeting at Chatsworth High School:

    Chris Rowe continues SSFL meltdown denial 10 December 2013 at DTSC meeting in Chatsworth CA

  4. Because statements are made in a comment on the EnviroReporter website about my analysis of the SRE accident, I thought I should post what I currently state on my own website: “A June 2007 draft revision was prepared for review, but was made moot by Boeing’s release of previously withheld wind data. Analysis of that data is awaiting completion of other projects.
    In the June, 2007 Revision, I tried to clarify issues, and to answer questions raised by Boeing and its consultants. I also made quantitative changes to the report that resulted from adding additional Boeing consultants to the set of experts used to develop a likelihood distribution for the release magnitude.
    When these changes were combined with newly identified soil measurements, the quantitative scoping calculations I made of projected health effects had to be adjusted. The upper 95%-confidence value dropped by about a factor of 4.
    Subsequent to preparation of the 2007 revision, Boeing released 1959 meteorological (met) data.
    Preliminary review of the met data suggests that the upper 95%-confidence value will drop still further, when met data is incorporated. Revisions to expert assessments is likely to reduce the upper 95%-confidence value still more, although the possibility of a second (earlier?) accident has been raised to account for excess strontium found in the coolant— a possibility that will complicate the analysis.” See: http://www.cipi.com/artclnuk.shtml for responses to Boeing and others. I also should make it clear that my original report had a range starting at zero health effects, but that lower number got lost in the original reporting and presentation by others. I never referred to the SRE accident as a meltdown, which has a pejorative connotation.

  5. The last time I answered Weitzberg, I noted that the Department of Energy calls what happened at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in 1959 a “meltdown.” His refusal to accept this did nothing to bolster his credibility, but it did qualify him to be referred to as a Meltdown Denier just like Chris Rowe, the “citizen journalist” he is shilling for who hasn’t the guts to defend her own nonsense.

    This is the same Chris Rowe that Bill Bowling, co-founder of the Aerospace Cancer Museum of Education, says ripped off two of his photos of the lab without permission, photos that have vanished from the site of Rowe’s enabler, editor Ron Kaye. I wonder if Kaye’s former employer, the Los Angeles Daily News allowed stolen photographs to be used on its website by a guest “reporter” who claims to have interviewed 20 phantom scientists and then writes for them all in a bumbling first-person screed that ends up saying, in all seriousness: But what can be more telling of the safety of the SRE than having Mayor Sam Yorty of Los Angeles at its controls in 1963. “Mayor Sam” was given the “Honorary Title” of Nuclear Reactor Operator”

    Now the undeterred Weitzberg spins more conspiratorial paranoia including this: I hear about SRE at every meeting I attend, I see it on TV, and read it in the press. Someone is orchestrating all of this media coverage…”

    Oh please. Do you think we’re taking orders from Havana or the Kremlin? Statements like this, and denying that there ever was a meltdown, destroy any credibility Weitzberg may have had before daring to venture into the realm of fact which is what we deal with on this website.

    Weitzberg also says: Perhaps, some may eventually regret that the $41.5 million for the radiation survey was a waste of resources that might have been better spent on site cleanup.

    This indicates a serious lack of knowledge about site remediation – how is it possible to do a clean-up without first performing a survey of what it is that needs to be cleaned up? Radiation at Rocketdyne doesn’t come with nicely plotted signs saying “I’m hot! Dig here!”

    Most boorish is turning this argument into a Möbius strip of magniloquence by again trying to fly this by us: You didn’t like Chris’ SRE message and you didn’t like mine, so you attacked the messengers.

    I won’t continue on this endless loop, so I refer Weitzberg (who apparently isn’t even one of the mysterious twenty phantom scientists the now-silent Rowe touted as experts on the supposed non-meltdown) back to my first response to his comments above.

  6. I will try to answer all of your responses. I am not one of the 20. I have had no connection with AI, Rocketdyne, Pratt and Whitney or Boeing since I left AI in 1965. Because I am in the business I was asked by a friend to look into the scary scenarios she was reading in the press about the SRE accident and the supposed cancers throughout the Valley. After attending a few meetings and listening to the comments I got the distinct impression that people were going out of their way to beat the SRE accident drum, when its relevance to the current SSFL studies and cleanup activities is slim to none. The SRE is long gone and the supposed I-131 and CS-137 releases never happened.

    I am speaking out to inform and educate those individuals who do not know the realities of the effects of low levels of radiation, near background. These include the writer who was born a decade after the SRE accident and moved to Thousand Oaks as a young child, but who somehow believes that her thyroid cancer is from the accident, and the woman who is concerned that she has to disclose the presence of radioactive fallout from the SRE accident when she tries to sell her house.

    I hear about SRE at every meeting I attend, I see it on TV, and read it in the press. Someone is orchestrating all of this media coverage, and it is a distraction from focusing on the residual contamination on the site, and its cleanup. I am skeptical that all people would welcome a finding that there is little residual radioactivity on the site, or that there is no evidence of residual fallout from the SRE accident. Some may actually feel the loss of a club with which to beat Boeing and DOE. Perhaps, some may eventually regret that the $41.5 million for the radiation survey was a waste of resources that might have been better spent on site cleanup. Only time will tell.

    As for me, I will continue to speak out and inform about the effects of low levels of radiation. If you are interested and open minded you can be convinced that the areas in the US with higher levels of background have lower levels of cancer mortality, and that there are places in the world with backgrounds up to 60 times that here in the LA area, yet with no evident negative health effects over many generations.

    Don’t accuse me of misstating facts or making mistakes while working on the hill; I check my facts and did not make any mistakes while working for AI. Don’t try to scare me with acronyms like S8ER and S8DR. Years ago, I read and understood the fuel failure reports because that is what I do for a living.

    You didn’t like Chris’ SRE message and you didn’t like mine, so you attacked the messengers. You have no reason to distrust me just because you have your own preconceived notions about the SRE, I have no hidden agenda. Speaking only for myself, I think we would all be better off if you got off of the SRE kick and devoted your energies to what is left on the site.

  7. Absolutely no one who is working on the SSFL cleanup is talking about killing more than 6,000,000 people in concentration camps. The German people must certainly have believed in Hitler’s BIG LIE to have cooperated with that particular horror. The SSFL activists, after 30 years of hard work, are just happy to be talking about the fact that SB990 is now law, and that the Field Lab will be characterized and the bad stuff cleaned up to the highest standards…agricultural.

    In the process, if it turns out that this was just a small, unimportant incident and that we have all been exaggerating and fearful for no reason….so be it. Eventually, the truth will out!

    However, in the meantime, what is it that you want? What is your goal in pointing out repetitively and scientifically that there has been a big exaggeration in the size of the partial meltdown, or that there was any dispersion of radioactive substances at all? Are you also doubting 30,000 or more rocket tests and up to 500,000 gallons of TCE being used (and dumped) too?

    Personally, lacking a scientific background, your information goes right over my head. There is no way that I, and probably others like me, can even understand what you are talking about, much less being able to know if you are either right or wrong.

    But, I certainly do understand that you are apparently determined to throw a dark and negative cloud over the official and ongoing attempts to discover and mitigate any possible radioactive substances and/or toxic contaminants that may be on the site. If you are correct, and the incident was minimal, then FINE, we will all certainly discover that in due time. Trust me,we can all handle the good news! Again, in the meantime, what is really your point?

    If you are trying to educate us all….thank you. But, if you are attempting to give Boeing more material with which to try to get off the proverbial hook, forget it. Boeing is more than capable of doing their own minimizing and denying….they really don’t need any help from either you or anyone else. And, they probably do not need anyone to act either as a consultant, or to sing in their chorus.

    If the SSFL site turns out to be clean, we will all rejoice and apologize to Boeing for giving them a bad time. All, of course, except those who are too sick or have already died, believing that it was because they lived near the Field Lab. They may be the only ones who may be unwilling to accept the good news.

  8. No, (should we call you 1 of 20?) we are actually supposed to be talking about what to do about the mess left behind. Since you would rather trade insults, calling us names and attacking our character than really deal with the fact that you …YOU made mistakes back then and now, today, you’re having a hard time with it. I understand that, and can sympathize. It’s hard to take responsibility for something this big, and much easier to fight little details of a report than deal with the million un-answered questions about disposal of the KNOWN contaminated fuel, water, soil, debris that was dumped and buried or left out back to decay a while so they could dispose of it cheaper. The fact is, that there are ramifications to those decisions, and the hill needs to be considered holistically. Not just in a vacuum, fighting over the word MELTDOWN at the SRE. I frankly don’t care what word you use, but you do NOT know how much got out, largely due to the lacking records because instrumentation went off-scale, and records were lost or destroyed or contaminated. The weather data had to be modeled because they refused to cough it up. Now we have the weather data, but we don’t have a funded study now. Either way, we lack answers today, because of actions of past for a variety of reasons. Some due to incompetence, some due to fear and some due to the refusal to divulge crucial information to help the workers and the clean-up activities, as well as scientific issues that they simply didn’t know at the time. What about pulling the damaged fuel rods out? What about the one that took days? Were you there to do that? Hind-sight is 20-20. I object that you resort to character attacks, not just on us as “activists” as if trying to make right, this fifty years of wrong-doings is something we should be ashamed of? But you also attack the scientists who did these studies! Attack and discredit…Shame on you!

    What about the dumping, burning and burying, Abe? How do you explain that? I’ve got 30,000 photographs that need explaining if nothing got out. Was it magic? Was it gremlins? What was it?

  9. Hey Mike,
    I am more than happy to substantiate my statement that the claim of 260 to 1800 people getting cancer from the SRE accident is bogus. I just hope that people take the time to read the information, and if they remain skeptical they read the Christian and Daniels reports. The ultimate basis of the claimed deaths is Lochbaum’s assumption that because 13 of 43 fuel elements were damaged 30% of the inventory of I-131 and Cs-137 was released from the fuel. It is well documented that fission products are not released from uranium metal fuel, as is not the case with uranium dioxide fuel in commercial fuel, where Lochbaum may have more familiarity. It is documented that the temperature of the SRE fuel never exceeded the melting point of the uranium fuel, and that a low-melting point uranium steel eutectic was formed in the hottest parts of the 13 fuel elements that were damaged. I independently calculated the maximum amount of uranium that would form in the eutectic composition with the existing steel and obtained a value of about 1% of the total uranium in the core. You can perform this simple calculation yourself. Certainly no cesium or iodine got out of the 99% of the fuel that did not melt.

    Lochbaum’s fission product pathway to the environment was that elemental iodine-131 and cesium-137 escaped from the fuel and was transported through the sodium coolant in helium gas bubbles, thus reaching the cover gas. This fantasy is wrong on several accounts. The iodine is known to form UI3 in metal fuel and also CsI. Based on EBR-II fuel failure experiments, it is demonstrated that any I or Cs released from the fuel will be retained in the sodium coolant. This behavior is confirmed for SRE by the fact that I and Cs were not found in the cover gas samples. The best estimate of the amount of I and Cs released during the 1959 accident is probably zero.

    In addition, the estimate of cancers deaths from Lochbaum’s assumed release uses the cumulative effects of very low doses to very large numbers of individual living very far from SSFL. It is not necessary to try to understand all of the mumbo jumbo in Beyea’s report to get the idea that the health effects of the postulated releases and assumed dispersions are grossly overestimated. It is also well recognized that the cumulative population doses are inappropriate to estimate potential cancer deaths, and that BEIR VII also states that “that the occurrence of radiation-induced cancers at low doses will be small.”

    As far as the oft-repeated sound bite that the SRE accident was the worst meltdown in US history and was 260 times worse than TMI, I refer you to an excerpt from a world War II OSS description of Hitler’s psychological profile, “people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

    P.S. We are supposed to be talking aobut the SRE accident, not everything that ever happened on the hill.

  10. For those unbelievers just go to Rocketdynewatch.org and read the DOE’s Tiger Team Report. Read about AE-6 and see how many workers got “burned” and had to open all the doors to lower the radiation. Talk to Dan Parks about the “swimming pool reactor” whose doors were open every day to vent releases over Simi Valley. Read about the Hepa filters pre 1980–they all failed. Talk to the reactor operator for SNAP 8ER who had to put on protective clothes to test the pipes on loops outside of Bldg. 10. Read the Tritium Report, actually authored by Phil Rutherford after Greg Dempsey found tritium at Bldg. 059 after Phil told him they didn’t have it on the Hill. That’s funny because the log books from 1963 shows that Dan Parks did swipe tests for beryllium, tritium and uranium and found all of the previous. Read a report by a worker who died from bladder cancer who was researching a method to sound an alarm when tritium was leaking. He said that the building would be critical in one minute and the air would be contaminated for 1/2 mile around the leak. The report was written in 1966. Actually all the trucks bringing “bird cages” of fuel rods from DeSoto were very “hot” with uranium tailings falling off the trucks. The employees were interviewed about what they did when they had hot spills and they said, paving, contaminate, paving————–. Read the report by Robert Alvarez naming SSFL in the top 14 DOE sites in U.S. for having increased risk of dying from various cancers and nonmalignant diseases. Read about the internal monitoring of our workers–90% of the samples were positive for uranium and mixed fission products. One hundred percent of the whole body counts tested positive for cs-137. Talk to the widow who was left with 6 children to raise between 2 and 12 yrs of age. Listen to her stories about her husband coming home with burns all over his body and sick. Had to sell her house and move out of state to have family help her. Now she can’t get compensated because Boeing gave NIOSH watered down data while her daughter is dying of breast cancer for lack of health insurance. Look at all the wives of workers who died young because their husbands got hot and had to change into overalls and bring their clothes home to be buried or washed immediately. Look at my neighborhood of 15 houses built in 1959–one or two cancers in every house and the dogs and horses died from kidney cancer. Talk to local nurses who remember a ward full of workers with brain cancer. Talk to DOE workers who were in Area I at the oil rig who were called over to the SRE to help because all the onsite workers maxed out their dose and had to leave. He had to go in the back roads because he had no clearance and had to bypass the guard gate. Talk to his wife who worked in a shack at the SRE and the only bathroom facility was in the SRE. She lost her bladder 20 years later. How would you feel if you found out that your employer, OHSA and Ventura County Dept of Health knew that your drinking water was contaminated but gave it to you anyway, to save money. How would you feel if you worked at a nuclear site yet your drinking water was never tested for radionuclides? How would you feel if you were diagnosed with an advanced tumor in your bladder and you thought you were going to die?

  11. Take your head out of the sand, Abe. Negative pressure? How can you say that, and also say that the air was completely changed five times a day through the ventilation system to keep the workers safe. Which way is it? Who did they contaminate? The workers or the environment? In fact, in deposition testimony of the person who did the estimates for the company at the time, it is stated that the hepa filter was incorrectly installed and did not work, thereby venting an “unknown amount of radioactivity to the surrounding environment”

    Anyway, it’s just one incident as you say, and there were uranium fires, sodium fires, accidents during the burns, and other nuclear accidents both at SRE as well as the other facilities such as AE6 and SNAP8DR and SNAP8ER, not to mention all the chemical contamination that includes nearly a million gallons of TCE in the groundwater. There is so much to do, it’s tough to keep up, and closing our eyes and ears isn’t gonna fix a thing.

  12. My opinion: Attention given to Ms. Rowe’s baseless meanderings results in the diversion of very valuable resources.

    If there are workers in existence who possess valuable information about SSFL, using Ms. Rowe as a mouthpiece will only compromise credibility and dilute the intended message. If you have knowledge or memories of The Hill, please share with an objective party. The Federal EPA is currently conducting interviews with workers whose input can be of assistance in the historical site assessment; helpful in cleanup, and even in issues relative to federal worker compensation programs. If you are concerned about your identity, you can request a private interview.


  13. Abe’s words remind me of what the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers, said:

    The world is made up for the most part of fools and knaves, both irreconcilable foes to the truth.

    An “attack” is something that is initiated; what I wrote in Meltdown Denier was a response. As were the Chris Rowe-related comments here and on other websites that were written by folks who have suffered, or have had family suffer, or both, possibly from reckless and reprehensible activities on The Hill including the 1959 meltdown of the Sodium Reactor Experiment.

    This news website backs up everything we write, so it is with a jaundiced eye that we read unsupported statements like “Claims of 260 to 1800 people getting cancer within 62 miles of SSFL are bogus, based only on a couple of flawed reports that contain numerous errors and unfounded assumptions.” Just what are those errors and unfounded assumptions? Substantiate, please.

    Weitzberg goes beyond attacking the use of the word “meltdown” to describe what happened on those fateful days at the SRE fifty years ago. Even the words “partial meltdown” are “an exaggeration” according to Abe. But not according to the SRE-owner itself, the Department of Energy, which wrote in its April DOE newsletter:

    “July 2009 will mark 50 years since the Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE) meltdown, and we are planning a meeting in the near future about the accident. We know the SRE meltdown continues to be an issue of interest and concern among our stakeholders, and we want to begin to address, to the extent possible, issues of most interest to Santa Susana stakeholders.”

    So even the Department of Energy confirms the meltdown, yet we are supposed to believe the words of 20 phantom scientists who waited 50 years to speak up, in the form of provocateur Chris Rowe? And CBG and UCS are stirring the pot? Now that is truly a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

  14. The personal attacks on Chris Rowe by Michael Collins and the other commentators are quite disturbing. She published information obtained from 20 former AI employees that states that the off-site effects of the SRE accident were not as portrayed by Dan Hirsch and his activist groupies. Claims of 260 to 1800 people getting cancer within 62 miles of SSFL are bogus, based only on a couple of flawed reports that contain numerous errors and unfounded assumptions. The fact that the state paid for the studies does not make them any more credible; it just demonstrates another waste of taxpayer money. When anti-nuclear activists write reports they are no more independent than the people and companies and government agencies they continually criticize. The professional activists like CBG and UCS make their living from these activities and have a vested interest in stirring the pot.

    It is difficult to understand the emphasis on the SRE accident, when the real focus should be on cleaning up the site. The persistent use of the word “meltdown” to describe the SRE accident is nothing more than a propaganda tactic. In reality, even “partial meltdown” is an exaggeration. Less than 1 percent of the fuel actually melted, and no cesium or iodine got out of the unmelted fuel. What did get out of the melted fuel would have been trapped by the sodium coolant.

    Radioactivity within the SRE building is not necessarily an indication of activity released to the environment, because the building was under negative pressure and the gas was pumped to internal storage tanks.

    The people who viciously criticize Chris Rowe should be ashamed of themselves. No wonder the 20 AI retirees wish to avoid such attacks.

  15. Great story, Chris. Next, I suppose you will get commissioned by Iran to write a story verifying that there was no Holocaust.

  16. The facts are out! This was a serious meltdown that released cancer causing radiation over a 2 week period. It was covered up, nobody knows what happened to the contaminated debris or how many weeks that contaminated debris just sat there and how many people were actually exposed! Nor do they know what landfill accepted this contaminated debris. They deliberately destroyed the records!

    Strange, why exactly did they drain the Chatsworth Reservoir? Oh yes, they were worried about earthquakes!

    Over 500,000 gallons of trichloroethylene lies saturated in the ground and is migrating offsite today!

    TCE is a known carcinogen and neurotoxin.

    I guess these so called scientist really know there stuff! I would like to hear from these scientists. Where are they? Why don’t they speak up? Where is their account of what happened?

    My family lived within 2 miles of Rocketdyne. We drank, cooked, bathed, with water from our WELL! Today only 2 out of 6 people in my birth family are living.

    I have received my medical training by default! I have spent 40 years taking care of my family! In and out of hospitals, personal care, changing beds, giving medications and tending wounds!

    My children played with their Grandfather’s electronic voice box like it was a baby rattle!

    When a vascular surgeon tells you that your brother’s insides are that of a 98 year old man, when in fact he was actually 59 years old, forty years difference, this is not your everyday diagnosis. Something is seriously WRONG!!!!!!!

    Many, many people have been harmed and they have been kept in the dark. Many of these people that lived there, have moved out of the area. They have been brain washed to bare the burden of their own unfortunate illnesses! This is a crime!

    I do not know how Chris Rowe can comfortably deny that the SRE did not sustained a meltdown, when clearly it has been investigated, discussed, studied and reported by several top physicists, including expert witness testimonies.

    Chris Rowe please view the image at the top of this article, the one showing the melted fuel rods!

    It seems there is only one other entity denying any harm done by their “ultra hazardous activities”.

  17. I would certainly like to know just how Chris obtained the names and contact phone numbers for all of these older workers. It strikes me that the only possible source from which to have obtained this information would have had to have been from Boeing itself. (That does raise some questions, doesn’t it?) That is, unless this group of former workers had some kind of Retirees- from -The- Partial- Meltdown organization, that some lucky person could have stumbled upon by accident. That would have been incredibly lucky! Also unbelievable.

    “Incredible” seems to be the name of the game here. Are we to assume that these older workers were stationed down with the melting rods? Or were they up in the control room, and possibly too uninformed to flee when they should have? Did they not know about the necessity of moon suits for the workers? And,frequently checking up on the worker’s health does not take into account the lengthy latency period that is typical of cancer.

    It is really lovely of these workers to speak up after only 50 years, but one wonders if they also participated in keeping the partial meltdown secret for the first 20. And what is their excuse now? Too old? I don’t think so! (don’t ever hand me that excuse). I think that they just don’t want to be confronted with any questions, and possibly lose control of the situation. How neat…..just don’t talk anymore. No problems. In some circles it is called a “hit and run.”

    But fellows, at least, please don’t talk about ongoing health matters or wellness for anyone but yourselves. You will put Bonnie out of business. And, she has been working 24-7 for a number of years, trying to get many workers compensated for their injuries and illnesses.

    Actually, calling this disaster a “partial meltdown” is no big revelation. Everyone who is being accurate always calls it that, so what’s the big news here? At least that is a whole lot better than just calling it an “incident”.

    In fact, I am not too clear on what the whole fuss is about anyway. There are hundreds of documents describing what happened, and the SSFL will now be characterized. Anything toxic or radioactive that is found will then be cleaned up to SB990 standards, and that should be more than acceptable. There is really nothing new here…and the correct things are already being done, thanks to the activists, a number of elected officials, and Dan Hirsch.

    The Governor can just safely go on with his other business, and, Lord knows he has plenty of it. And the partial meltdown deniers can go on about their other business too, having now had their say, which is certainly their right in a Democracy, even if they are being negative and destructive Let us hope that the interviewd workers will now think better of it, and start coming up with some valuable memories about the specifics of what happened, that they can share with all of us.

    Instead of trying to deny or minimize this environmental disaster almost out of existence,this would really be doing a valuable service for the whole community!

  18. This article is outrageous and this idea that 20 people are willing to speak up, but only if their names are kept confidential? That just proves their lack of credibility right there. What about all the radiation releases, spills, accidents including more than one at the SRE? What were they doing, all tucked away in their safe little offices when the real workers were left to deal with these very dangerous situations? Busy in their offices writing reports to deny the events of the day? No wonder they are reluctant to come forward, and no wonder we are sitting here fifty years later still fighting the narrow-mindedness and cover-up mentality that has resulted in the destruction of important documents that could have lead to more efficient, less costly clean-up years ago, instead of spending millions and decades, on denial. What about the uranium fires, or the sodium fires that occurred at the SRE? Last night at the mic, she told the workgroup that several of these “alive and healthy scientists” who know better than the rest of us, also have cancer…but she says they are cancers not related to the site. Ridiculous and offensive as usual.

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