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.
READ “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” by Joan Trossman Bien and Michael Collins in Pacific Standard. This investigative cover story digs deep into one of Southern California’s hottest secrets with an eyewitness account and interviews with the State EPA, Department of Energy, Boeing and the activist who has propelled the issue for three decades, Dan Hirsch.
Exclusive news that just-replaced Department of Toxic Substances Control lab cleanup honcho Norm Riley not only thinks historic cleanup agreement is a hindrance to remediation, he says lab owner Boeing is going to sue the State over constitutionality of law signed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
READ “Not the Norm” where DTSC’s Norm Riley says says in an exclusive interview that he considers the legislation to cleanup SSFL, State Senate Bill 990, to be a “hindrance” and “unnecessarily restrictive” and then lays out Boeing’s possible plan to sue the State over SB-990: “If we are not able to reach an agreement with them [Boeing] for the land pursuant to 990 standards, then there will be litigation.”
READ “Meltdowns and Horrible Accidents” where Committee to Bridge the Gap’s Daniel O. Hirsch describes the 1959 Sodium Reactor Experiment disaster in detail. Hirsch goes on to lay out the history of radiological and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.
READ “Things Need to be Cleaned Up” interview with the Department of Energy’s spokesman William Taylor who says that the most dangerous contamination at the former Rocketdyne lab is from the groundwater.
READ “The Vision We Share” where Joan Trossman Bien tries to pry answers out of Boeing but meets her match. An unidentified company representative pledges that whatever happens with the yet-to-be-signed Consent Agreement, the company will make sure that the lab property is eventually turned into open space with no development.
READ “Wrinkles in Runkle Canyon – 50 Years After a Santa Susana Nuclear Accident Holds Up Land Development” in the LA Weekly where EnviroReporter.com‘s Michael Collins takes you in the Atomics International reactor for a front row seat to America’s first and worst nuclear reactor disaster, reveals which way the cancerous fallout fell across Southern California, and exposes how disaster still resonates today. Runkle Canyon borders the former nuclear area of the huge outdoor lab and is where KB Home hopes to build hundreds of homes but have been stymied since 2006 by a group called the “Radiation Rangers.”
READ “Meltdown Man” – EnviroReporter.com‘s John Pace Interview. Pace is the only known person alive today who was at the Sodium Reactor Experiment in 1959 during the meltdown.
READ “Ghost of a Rose” – EnviroReporter.com‘s Michael Rose Interview. Rose is the man who espied a political pamphlet in 1979 that made mention of the meltdown, the discovery of which led to the publicity of the meltdown in 1979 and all the subsequent coverage since.
READ “Very Dirty Laundry” – 2006 article about a state-funded study that found that the reactor meltdown caused cancer in 260 to 1,800 people within a 62-mile radius and released 459 times more of deadly iodine-131 and cesium-137 than the Three Mile Island meltdown did in 1979.
READ EnviroReporter.com‘s investigation of Rocketdyne, as the Santa Susana Field Laboratory is oft-times called, begun in 1998 for Los Angeles magazine and the LA Weekly.
SEE eye-witness photographs of the reactor during this critical time including never-before published photos taken by John Pace of desperate days at the crippled core.
SEE 7 galleries of the reactor’s construction from Atomics International which show the reactor built without a containment dome. Demolition galleries are also included.
SEE 15 galleries of Area IV where most of the nuclear work was done at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.
WATCH “Engineering Disasters” on The History Channel‘s Modern Marvels show about the meltdown. Available at right as well. Former worker John Pace is seen throughout this excellent documentary partially culled from films made at the time of the disaster in order to train other nuclear reactor crews what to do in similar situations.
WATCH construction of the reactor in an Atomic Energy Commission film from the mid 1950s. The SRE was built without a containment structure like the ones seen today at the nearby Diablo Canyon and San Onofre nuclear generating stations.
WATCH the SRE recovery film provided by the Department of Energy which owned the reactor. The reactor was shut down for 14 months with debris from the core taking 7 weeks to remove by a crew totaling 31 men.
WATCH the reactor decommissioning film called “Sodium Reactor Experiment” which begins with the host intoning “All things have their cycle of life, of usefulness. So it is with an experimental reactor.”
WATCH Warren Olney’s week-long series in 1979 break the news of the Sodium Reactor Experiment meltdown on KNBC-TV NewsCenter 4.