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EnviroReporter.com criticized the decision of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB) to allow the developer to shut down a well that was found to contain n-nitrosodimethylamine (n-NDMA). This semi-volatile organic chemical is highly toxic, a suspected human carcinogen and almost impossible to remove from groundwater. It has been linked to rocket test sites like the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

We criticized LARWQCB’s statement that “No significant perchlorate has been detected in [Runkle Canyon] groundwater,” when the amount found was double what was discovered by this reporter in a report in adjacent Ahmanson Ranch groundwater in 2002. That discovery led to the unraveling of the proposed Washington Mutual development which was twice the size of the one proposed for Runkle Canyon. Subsequently, the regional water board was part of efforts to disprove the Ahmanson Ranch perchlorate finding, with little success.

We pointed out that amazingly, but certainly not surprisingly, a developer’s report that states “Geocon contacted the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) to inquire on the status of groundwater investigations being performed at Runkle Canyon. According to department staff, the RWQCB is not currently overseeing any programs at the Site. The RWQCB did request that Green Park sample and provide groundwater data; however, an order was never issued by the board.”

The LARWQCB has been remiss in its duties regarding Runkle Canyon which is a watershed protected by the Clean Water Act and is a source for drinking water in Simi Valley.

The developer found mercury above normal levels in Runkle Canyon soil, an issue not addressed in DTSC’s instructions to KB Home therefore ignored entirely in the draft cleanup Response Plan.

We discovered that in one report, as we noted, that “Dade Moeller underestimates the cancer risk that [the former California Department of Health Services] calculates by factors ranging from 50 to 16,129 times. EnviroReporter.com maintains that Dade Moeller’s estimations are highly inaccurate and should not be used to estimate cancer risks for residents, open space users or neighbors exposed to construction dust of Runkle Canyon’s proposed development.”

EnviroReporter.com found that the labs used by the developers repeatedly discounted positive hits for contaminants as laboratory error yet repeatedly made mistakes in their sampling and analysis, mistakes not mentioned in their reports.

We pointed out that one of the developer’s contractors, Miller Brooks, falsely claims that Runkle Canyon is separated from Rocketdyne by a ridge line when, in reality, the canyon sits in an eleven-acre drainage off of SSFL.

Miller Brooks also makes unsubstantiated conclusions based on mysterious math, and makes the false statement that “Environmental investigations conducted at neighboring properties showed that strontium-90 was present in soil at concentrations that were deemed to be either within background concentrations or at levels considered to pose no significant health risk” when the adjacent Brandeis-Bardin camp and university has shown significant strontium-90 detections.

EnviroReporter.com commented that Miller Brooks misstates what is considered “protective of human health,” not taking into account what the EPA’s concept and actual limits are in relation to Preliminary Remediation Goals. The company misstates what the background strontium-90 is for the area, making 333% higher therefore skewing readings of high radiation in relation to what is the actual background.

The environmental firm’s testing of surface water consisted solely of examining the leachate of asphaltic material found in the middle of Runkle Road. No analysis of the actual surface water in the intermittent stream or vernal pools occurred and yet the firm asserts falsely that the surface water has no heavy metal contamination. That contamination was later found by the Radiation Rangers and confirmed by the city of Simi Valley.

Another developer contractor, Harding, discounted high cesium-137 readings in Runkle Canyon as well as the elevated strontium-90 readings.

The Radiation Rangers contend that most all of the concerns expressed through the comments analyzed in this series were ignored, dismissed or underestimated by Norm Riley. Now that Riley has been relieved from both the Runkle Canyon and Rocketdyne cleanup projects, will anything change?

Will Rick Brausch look at these comments and the others we’ve posted and analyzed in this series? Will Brausch have competent team members ready and willing to tackle these data and incorporate them into the final cleanup plan?

There is an amazing amount of pertinent information in the comments we’ve explored in our “Railroading Runkle Canyon?” series. And it’s all free for the taking by DTSC. Ignored, however, the issues fleshed out in these comments may come back to haunt the department. That won’t benefit anyone except, perhaps, KB Home and the contractors it hired to gloss over pollution problems on its property, and the attorneys that will profit from the inevitable lawsuits.

The only certainty at this point is that EnviroReporter.com will wait for answers to its comments as we continue our intensive environmental reporting on Runkle Canyon and Rocketdyne on this website and for publications like LA Weekly, the Ventura County Reporter and Miller-McCune.

Complete “Railroading Runkle Canyon?” blog series:

Runkle and the Rule of Law
Radiation Rangers Runkle Canyon Comments
Cleanup Rocketdyne.org’s Runkle Canyon Comments
ACME’s Runkle Canyon Comments
The Aerospace.org’s Runkle Canyon Comments
EnviroReporter.com‘s Runkle Canyon Comments
EnviroReporter.com‘s Runkle Canyon Comments Analysis

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

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