Runkle Canyon borders SSFLIn our latest LA Weekly article on Boeing’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory, “Wrinkles in Runkle Canyon – 50 Years After a Santa Susana Nuclear Accident Holds Up Land Development” we talk about the cleanup of the 2,850-acre site which will cost hundreds of millions and is supposed to be completed in 2017. We also talk about the top Boeing environmental official on the site giving false information about offsite pollution in neighboring Runkle Canyon, where KB Home wants to build 461 homes about a mile from the site of the nation’s worst meltdown in 1959.

The article states:

In late 2007, Boeing supplied the state regulators in charge of the cleanup, known as the Department of Toxic Substances Control, with a 199-page Offsite Data Evaluation Report, which explained the results of 60 years of “off-site media sampling and testing data for chemical and radiological contamination” that had been collected by Boeing, NASA and the Department of Energy within a 15-mile radius around the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

Bizarrely, the report claims that during those 60 years, Runkle Canyon’s ground water and soil were never tested. But, in fact, at least one test was conducted, according to a 2007 report prepared for Boeing and obtained by the Weekly.

Signed under penalty of perjury by Thomas D. Gallacher, Boeing’s director of Environment, Health and Safety at the laboratory, the report also says that the area where most of the nuclear work was done — Area IV — does not border the adjacent Runkle Canyon. Yet the report has maps illustrating that picturesque Runkle Canyon does indeed border Area IV. One map also shows evidence of toxic trichloroethylene in the Runkle Canyon ground water.

Boeing, which bought the huge laboratory acreage in 1996, has not yet responded to L.A. Weekly‘s questions about these issues.

So why does this matter? If Boeing is giving the government agency in charge of the cleanup, the Cal-EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, false documents about the facility and offsite contamination, then how will the pollution, onsite and offsite, be cleaned up effectively? Is this monumentally important document inadvertently false or deliberately misleading?

Unraveling the riddle of Runkle Canyon will partially rely on the accuracy of the documents supplied to DTSC. has discovered evidence that Boeing-supplied documents contain false data as it pertains to Runkle Canyon. This suggests that additional sampling and testing in Runkle Canyon may be necessary to fully and accurately investigate the nature of the contamination and its source.

On Dec. 13, 2007, Boeing supplied DTSC with a 199-page “Offsite Data Evaluation Report” that “summarizes and evaluates the results of offsite media sampling and testing data for chemical and radiological contamination collected by Boeing, NASA, and DOE within a 15-mile radius around the Santa Susana Field Laboratory over a nearly 60 year time period.”

“I certify under perjury of law that this document and all attachments were prepared under my direction or supervision in accordance with a system designed to assure that qualified personnel properly gather and evaluate the information submitted,” wrote Thomas D. Gallacher, Boeing’s director of the lab’s Environment, Health & Safety. “I am aware that there are significant penalties for submitting false information, including the possibility of fine and imprisonment for knowing violations.”

However, the report says on 1-18 (p. 37 in the PDF) that “Runkle Canyon and the SSFL do not share a common property boundary,” when maps in the document show that it clearly does. The document goes on to say “No environmental investigations have been performed by Boeing, NASA, or DOE on the Runkle Canyon property” when the map showing toxic trichloroethylene hits in Runkle groundwater is on page 184. The last page of this report combines the two notions by showing the groundwater sampling spot on Runkle Canyon and the common Rocketdyne border and saying, in conclusion, “Offsite sampling sufficient with no data gaps.”

California penal code states that in order for perjury charges to stick, the phony information must be statements “which he or she knows to be false.” So Gallacher may not have committed perjury if he didn’t know that the report Boeing submitted to DTSC had at least two significant falsehoods. But not knowing this, especially the fact that Runkle Canyon borders the lab’s nuclear Area IV, would suggest he and his team are incompetent. And if this were true, how can the entire report be trusted? Back to square one?

24 Years of Award-Winning SSFL/Rocketdyne Reporting
June 1998June 2022

One Comment

  1. This seems to be more of the same old same old….with Boeing putting forth incorrect information and then either denying any problem or attempting to minimize it almost out of existence. But their claim of not knowing about the border connection between Runkle Canyon and the SSFL is really unbelievable and bizarre!

    Thank you Michael for exposing this “misunderstanding” and also for publishing a map to demonstrate your point. It also struck me as being incredibly fair and kind of you to say that Boeing may not have known about this borderline connection. The only thing I would add is that you probably do not really need to make excuses(or allowances) for Boeing, they are perfectly well able to make plenty of their own.

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