DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY and NASA JOINT PRESS RELEASE
DOE and NASA Reach Cleanup Agreements with the State of
California for the Santa Susana Field Laboratory
Washington, D.C. – The Department of Energy and NASA both signed Administrative Orders on Consent (AOC) with the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA) today that define the process for characterization and the cleanup end-state for portions of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL).
The agreements come after more than 10 months of negotiations and extensive public comment on the conceptual framework for cleanup outlined in the Agreement in Principle and additional public comment on the legally enforceable process and procedures in the draft Administrative Order on Consent.
“By working closely with the State of California, we have reached an historic agreement that will allow the Department to carry out its important cleanup work and protect the health of both the surrounding community and the environment,” said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.
“NASA is pleased to join with the Department of Energy and the State of California in signing these agreements and will do its part to assist with the Santa Susanna cleanup,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We are committed to working with these partners to address the environmental concerns at this former test site.”
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said, “The landmark agreements announced today between NASA, the Department of Energy and the State of California are an important step toward real protection for families who live near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. For many years I have strongly supported the state’s and communities’ efforts to ensure that a comprehensive cleanup is conducted at Santa Susana that protects the health of the public including children and pregnant women. I am pleased that NASA and the Department of Energy have stepped up to the plate and agreed to clean up the Santa Susana site to the levels California has determined will provide the greatest protection to nearby communities.”
DOE’s agreement is a commitment to clean up Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone of the SSFL to background levels for both chemical and radiological constituents.
DOE’s AOC includes several key steps needed to reach the desired end-state of a cleanup to background.
• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) will determine the radiological background for each radionuclide based upon their on-going radiological background study
• The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) will determine the chemical background for each potential chemical constituent based upon their on-going chemical background study.
• The USEPA will determine, through the ongoing radiological characterization survey, the nature and extent of any remaining radiological contamination.
• DTSC will determine the nature and extent of any remaining chemical contamination based on the previously submitted chemical sampling results, results from co-locating samples with USEPA for chemical analysis, and any DTSC determined necessary additional sampling.
• A major component of the framework is the involvement of USEPA to serve as technical advisor to DTSC and DOE. USEPA will perform confirmatory sampling after DOE has completed cleanup to help ensure that all cleanup goals have been met. USEPA will also approve for use DOE identified areas of backfill.
In addition to providing the legal framework for the agreement, the Administrative Order on Consent also outlines a process to address the court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement.
The Administrative Order on Consent will be available here.
NASA is responsible for the environmental cleanup of the Federal real property at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The NASA-held (Federal) portion of the site has been used historically for the research, development and testing of rocket engines associated with the Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs. Under NASA’s AOC, the agency will work with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to determine the chemical background for each potential chemical constituent based upon their on-going chemical background study. The agency will also work with DTSC to determine the nature and extent of any remaining chemical contamination based on the previously submitted chemical sampling results, and any DTSC-determined necessary additional sampling.
Originally developed as a remote site to test rocket engines and conduct nuclear research, the 2,850-acre SSFL, located in the hills between Chatsworth and Simi Valley, is owned primarily by the Boeing Company, with small portions administered by the NASA. The former Atomic Energy Commission conducted nuclear research on nuclear powered space vehicles and sodium coolant mediums at 10 small reactors at the Energy Technology Engineering Center – 90 acres within SSFL Area IV – from the 1950s until 1988.
ASSEMBLYMEMBER JULIA BROWNLEY PRESS RELEASE
Assemblymember Brownley Labels DOE, NASA Cleanup Settlements “Stupendous”
SACRAMENTO—Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, issued the following statement regarding today’s signing of final agreements between the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Department of Energy and NASA for the cleanup of the former Santa Susana Field Lab site in Simi Valley:
“The signing today of the final Agreements on Consent between the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Department of Energy and NASA for cleanup of the SSFL is nothing short of stupendous. Fighting the might of two huge Federal bureaucracies has been no picnic, and sometimes it seemed that this day would never come. But at the same time, I knew that it must come. Too many people around that site were sick, and too many had fought for far too long to get these agencies to clean up the radioactive and chemical mess that they left behind. Thanks to these agreements, the areas on which the DOE and NASA conducted their activities will now be cleaned up to background levels, which means as close as possible to what the site was before all the rocket engine testing and chemical spills and partial nuclear meltdown and everything else took place. It essentially winds back the clock to the time when families could safely hike and enjoy this beautiful land and never had to worry about breathing toxic waste or carrying it home on their clothes.
There are far too many people to thank by name who helped bring us to this point, but they certainly must include California EPA Secretary Linda Adams, who personally grabbed hold of this project and never let go until the DOE and NASA put pen to paper on final, binding, and enforceable agreements. A true environmental hero. And those signatures likely still wouldn’t have happened but for the personal intercession of Nobel Peace Prize-winning U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.
The loop won’t be closed until the Boeing Company, that owns the remaining and largest part of the site, lays down its sword and stops resisting. To Boeing I say; ‘call off your lawyers, turn off your slick PR machine, and dismiss your lawsuit against the people of California fighting the state cleanup law. Enough is enough. You can still come out of this looking like the responsible corporate giant that you portray yourself to be. The ratio of the 2,000 public comments received on the final settlement agreements ran 200:1 in favor. Do the right thing, and, 50 years later, let’s get to work cleaning up the entire site without further delay.’”
Assemblymember Brownley is principal co-author of SB 990 along with then-Senator Sheila Kuehl, which set the cleanup standards for the site into law in 2007.