"Wild Bill" Bowling discovers possible antimony contamination at August 6, 2016 Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition protest at SSFL entrance.
“Wild Bill” Bowling discovers possible antimony contamination at August 6, 2016 Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition protest at SSFL entrance.
Broken pipe revealing substance believed to be toxic heavy metal antimony found outside lab during demonstration where protesters outnumber hot zone tourists

The number of attendees to Boeing’s latest Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) bus tours appeared to have plummeted August 6, three weeks after EnviroReporter.com exposed high levels of radiation and chemical contamination on both the hiking and bus excursions.

Those who did participate in the controversial trip had to first brave a gauntlet of two dozen shouting protesters with signs that included “STOP THE DECEPTION – NO TOXIC TOURS!”

The last time the Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition demonstrators showed up to protest Boeing’s SSFL hikes and bus tours on April 23, about 100 hikers came and the protesters numbered 18. Now the ratio had flipped and demonstrators more than doubled the number of tour-goers.

This astonishing drop-off of lab tour attendees came after the continuing protests and EnviroReporter.com‘s July 13 exposé Critics question safety of Boeing’s Santa Susana Field Lab hikes. That investigation revealed that hikers and bus riders are being allowed in areas that have thousands of times the normal amount of radiation including cesium-137 and strontium-90 as well as chemicals, PCBs, dioxins and heavy metals.

One of the August 6 demonstrators even found what appeared to be carelessly left contamination near the gates of SSFL. A long pipe running from Woolsey Canyon Road towards the lab entrance was pointed out to this reporter by “Wild Bill” Bowling, a Runkle Canyon Radiation Ranger and founder of the Aerospace Contamination Museum of Education as being stuffed with toxic foam goo.


The pipe, visible in photographs and video in this piece, was filled with an insulation Bowling knew quite well. That insulation, as this reporter saw and recorded, was deteriorating into the environment from the aged thin metal tubing it was in which was about four to five inches in diameter and ran for several dozen yards.

“It’s antimony, the same stuff found in the northern drainage,” Bowling said. “It is insulation for liquid oxygen and my guess is that pipe was a liquid oxygen pipe that they forgot about. The area that it would most likely service is the B-1 area of the SSFL just to the left if the front gate.”

November 4, 2007 photo of antimony in pipe, part of $11 million cleanup - DTSC photo
November 4, 2007 photo of antimony in pipe, part of $11 million cleanup – DTSC photo
Bowling should know about antimony. He helped discover it in 2007 nearby in drainage of Area I of the 2,850-acre lab that leads down into the Brandeis-Bardin campus of American Jewish University below. The area of the suspected antimony pipe near SSFL’s front gate also drains to the Jewish property.

“Small amounts of antimony cause dizziness, headache and depression and greater doses can lead to death after several days of frequent and violent vomiting,” this reporter wrote in the 2007 story Cleaning up Rocketdyne.

“This area will have approximately 500 cubic yards of the tainted soil trucked offsite to a licensed landfill. 8,000 cubic yards of soil polluted by PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons] will be excavated as well from with the former shooting range and along the Northern Drainage. The work will require approximately 764 truckloads which will be covered and cleaned of tire soil and debris before leaving the cleanup site.”

The cost of that cleanup of was about $11 million according to Bowling. Now right adjacent to the entrance of SSFL is a corroding pipe looking like it’s also leaking the same foamy goo into the environment, even though transparent tests of the substance that the public can trust are needed to confirm that it may be antimony. Its presence has apparently been missed or ignored for decades by employees of North American Rockwell, then Boeing and the lead government agency for the remediation of the former Rocketdyne facility, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

August 6 2016 antimony pipe insulation at SSFL entrance found.
August 6 2016 antimony pipe insulation at SSFL entrance found.
Bowling says he informed DTSC August 9 of what he had discovered, only to be told that DTSC would have Boeing look into it. When Bowling objected to the polluter being given the lead responsibility for investigating the pipeline, the DTSC official said she misspoke and it would be the DTSC project manager for the site who would be notified.

Keeping an eye on Boeing’s cleanup is a good idea. Bowling did just that in 2009 when he installed trail cameras in SSFL-adjacent Sage Ranch and filmed Boeing’s knocking down and ‘remediating’ parts of Area I near the front gate. EnviroReporter.com exposed the sloppy, and potentially dangerous, demolition in 2012’s Dirty Deeds. Bowling’s videos show clouds of possibly toxic dust blowing the direction of the San Fernando Valley where a new housing development below is being built. That indicated that Boeing had not followed what should have been required by DTSC, remediation best practices that include spraying down the soil to mitigate dust.

EnviroReporter.com‘s recent revelations that SSFL ‘nature walks’ and bus tours took participants (who signed away their rights through Boeing waivers) to places with high chemicals and radiation included unanswered questions for the company.

“Why do hikers only get to see the waiver they must sign at SSFL itself at hike time and not beforehand where they would have more of a chance to read the fine print?” this reporter asked Boeing’s Kamara Sams July 1. “By allowing hikers to walk through the SSFL Southern Buffer Zone, does Boeing maintain that there is no risk to these hikers from any contamination in these areas?” [Original emphasis]

Veteran Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition veterans protested in same spot 27 years ago! SSFL is still not cleaned up but is open for hikes and bus tours.
Veteran Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition veterans protested in same spot 27 years ago! SSFL is still not cleaned up but is open for hikes and bus tours.
Sams responded July 18 yet failed to fully answer our questions. “After decades of investigation, we have an extensive understanding of the Santa Susana site and gladly share this knowledge with the public and media,” Sams wrote as she did not share, gladly or not, the information we sought. “We welcome the opportunity to work with journalists who strive to provide balanced reporting and factual information about the site. It is unfortunate that this does not appear to be your intent.”

After reporting on this site for 18 years, not once have I ‘worked’ with Boeing to report on them. Reporters don’t work ‘with’ the cause of the problems they are uncovering unless they are, say, former journalists who have turned their craft into greenwashing for Boeing like ex-Los Angeles Timeser Gary Polakovic did.

It is quite ironic for Sams to question this reporter’s intent while failing to answer the questions asked of her. It seems that Boeing has no intention of answering anything having to do with its ongoing greenwashing and astroturfing scheme to sell SSFL as safe without meaningful cleanup.


“I am shocked to find further SSFL contamination in areas easily accessible by the public, similar to what was found at Sage Ranch, which is offsite contamination,” said Bowling in an August 8 email. “This new discovery is in the Northern Drainage that impacts the American Jewish University.”

August 6, 2016 - SSFL toxic tour protesters keep growing in size opposing 'toxic tours.'
August 6, 2016 – SSFL toxic tour protesters keep growing in size opposing ‘toxic tours.’
Now with protests increasing and apparent contamination found at the lab gate, Boeing’s meltdown makeover isn’t going very smoothly. Protesters even discussed the possibility of seeking an emergency injunction against Boeing for endangering public health and safety in its quest to convince the public that the contaminated site is fit for a park and doesn’t need much cleanup.

In the meantime, the Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition launched a petition demanding that SSFL not be designated a National Monument or included in the Rim of the Valley Corridor until it is fully cleaned up. Hundreds of people have already signed it.

Undaunted, Boeing is pushing forward with its greenwashing campaign. It’s summer newsletter includes a notice that the next SSFL tour will take place on September 10.

25 Years of Award-Winning SSFL/Rocketdyne Reporting


  1. RIGHT ON SIMI MOM. My friends daughter has a kid in the Knolls and she has leukemia after drinking from their well less than 2 miles from lab. I want her name on that plaque of its “accomplishments.” Thanks for NOTHING Boeing.

  2. I am in shock at William Webber’s comments. “Residual untidiness?” Are you kidding? Decades of mishandling radioactive and chemical waste, open air burning, 3 reactor accidents, radioactive fires – this is not untidiness, it’s sloppiness and stupidity. Strontium and Cesium contamination still on the site (and off), thousands of times over background? We are not talking about a little contamination, we are talking about A LOT, for decades, and thousands of sick and dead people as a result. Please tell the mothers of the children with retinoblastoma, or the new mothers who met at Children’s Hospital and discovered all of them lived near SSFL, please tell them how their families grief is unjustifiable. My guess is they will tell you to go straight to hell. No it was not worth it. The Space Race was the result of the same male posturing and aggression that has plagued this planet and killed millions over the past century, including the children, women, and elderly who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki just so we could show the Russians what we could do. (NO please don’t tell me it was necessary to end the war. It wasn’t. The Russians were going to take on Japan too, and we’d already destroyed so much with firebombing that General Curtis LeMay said that if we had lost the war, he would be tried for war crimes. General and later Presidnet Eisenhower said, Japan was ready to surrender and we never should have hit them with “that awful thing.”) But no matter to the blood thirsty. Instead, we pulled the Nazi scientists out and got them to work for us, so SSFL and our entire space race was built by the same beasts that killed millions of Jews working on Von Braun’s V2 rockets. And look, now we’ve polluted space too and destroyed the ozone, congratulations team USA. We already have a space museum, we arleady have a holocaust museum. SSFL should be fully cleaned up, and if it is ever to one day after it is fully cleaned up, to be a National Monument, let there also be a plaque there with the names of the SSFL workers and residents who died as a result of it’s “accomplishments.”

  3. William Webber is either an idiot or a troll or both. Troll is my vote – “residual untideness” that should be respected sounds too snarky to come from an elderly rocket scientist.

  4. I worked at the Aerophysics Field Laboratory for several years in the “early days” when it was most active. At that time world war 2 had just been concluded. The armed forces of both the United States and the USSR were aware that two of the newly invented weapons – the atom bomb and the long range rocket, could be combined to make an unstoppable new weapon of incredible power. The U.S. and the USSR were in a race to avoid being LAST in this race.

    The Santa Susana field laboratory was one of the principal “battlefields” in this contest.
    Please don’t complain about some residual untidiness – the alternative to this contest might have been a U.S.subjugation to the Soviet Union for the latter part of the past century and a very different course of history.

    The Field Lab is not some messy leftover from a commercial endeavor – it was one of the principal “battlegrounds” in the defense of the free world in the decades following World War 2. Give it the respect that it deserves.

  5. Thank you ,Bill Bowling, for confirming that the sickening contamination of the SSFL really does start right at the front gate. But this goo, apparently also can blow down on the San Fernando Valley, where apparently there is no place safe from the SSFL radiation and toxic chemicals, either through the wind or ground water. And they want to establish a National Monument on top of 500,000 gallons of TCE? Absolutely NOT unless the whole site is cleaned up first!
    And again, many grateful thanks to you Michael, for yet another enlightening and all encompassing article on the SSFL ongoing saga. Without you and your unceasing reporting,we would all remain in potentially deadly ignorance!

  6. No Boeing or Bust

    The Democrats convention platform says “Democrats will defend the Export-Import Bank, which supports good-paying jobs across the country and allows American workers and manufacturers to compete on a level playing field.”

    This is the “Bank of Boeing” Bernie Sanders talked about. 40 percent of Ex-Im financing subsidizes Boeing exports meaning it is US TAXPAYERS paying to subsidize The Screamliner to catch fire in other countries.

    The money Boeing makes from us doing this subsidizes its greenwashing of Rocketdyne and its bus tours and ‘nature hikes’ instead of cleaning the laboratory up right. It’s like subsidizing ISIS except at least ISIS is straight up enough to say they’re going to cut your head off.

    When Clinton becomes President, don’t look for any help from her. Or her lap dog Gov. Jerry Brown who is in Boeing’s pocket too.

    In short, L.A.: you’re screwed.

  7. This is so sad but those protesters give me hope in humanity. I wouldn’t let my family near this place.

  8. no more toxic tours

    how will boeing get out of this one? remove the antimony pipe and the protesters win and prove their point that the place is unsafe for dum dums who want to go play there or leave the pipe there and violate the dtsc ‘certificate of completion’ i easily found at http://www.dtsc-ssfl.com/files/lib_interim_meas%5Cnorthdrainshootingra%5Ccorrespondence/67087_Certification_of_Completion_Cvr_Ltr__Order.pdf

  9. My mother worked at the facility for several years. The employees were never given full disclosure of the levels of toxic waste in their work environment. Aside from my mother, who died of cancer in 1993, several other people that she worked with became stricken with cancer as well. The government has denied a large percentage of claims for these workers through the EEOCP. They have placed a threshold of “50% Causation” for the claims, meaning that after they go through a very “scientific” matrix evaluation, if they deem that there was less than a 50% chance that the cancer was caused by exposure from working at Area IV of the Santa Susana Field Lab, then the claim is denied. Additionally they have set up an additional qualification category called the SEC (Special Exposure Cohort), but have only approved people for this category if they worked at the site between 1954-1965(? Correct me if I am mistaken on the end date). This can be verified by a search for Area IV Santa Susana Field Lab on the NIOSH website.
    The whole situation that has taken place with the former employees is a sad comment on how big business and the government treat the people who were in their employ. I say the government because Rocketdyne/Rockwell Intl./Boeing were all government contracted companies.
    I feel that it is time for all who were involved in the coverup and deception to step up; clean the site the correct way, so that the people who live near by do not have a toxic dumpsite at their back door, compensate those who became ill and were lied to, and stop passing the buck…put on their big boy pants and come clean with what took place at the site.

  10. Boeing stockholders are getting screwed by the nitwits in chicago that are letting this happen. I’m not surprised at all.

    Boeing Dreamliner 387 batteries have caught on fire and Boeing couldn’t figure out why so they built a bunch of fire protection in case of fire. “Root cause still unknown”. Not the only 387 safety problems either. My wife and I won’t fly on airlines that have these jets.

    Boeing KC46 US air force fuel tanker can’t refuel planes in the air and are now delayed with cost overruns paid by Boeing. These planes cost 1.3 BILLION each and dont work.

    So I hope shareholders on Boeings 100 year birthday know all this. Boeings answer here is blame the reporter for exposing them for exposing the public. There Dreamliner answer is trust us it wont catch on fire. The KC46 answer is dont worry we will get those planes to you in working order, promise.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. Boeing’s got butthurt now. Get the injunction.

  12. Great coverage on critical environmental protests that continue to focus attention on this toxic site on the edge of Los Angeles. More and more people become aware of the very real dangers the SSFL site may harbor. The recent discovery of another forgotten piece of piping that may well contain additional poisons, underscores the need to continue the cleanup of SSFL. Many thanks for Enviroreporter’s continuing coverage.

  13. Kudos to the people protesting out there. Each one of you represents hundreds maybe thousands more. Glad to see some are wearing facemasks. I am outraged that Boeing would subject anyone to SSFL before it is cleaned up. That pipe in plain view speaks volumes to how careless and corrupt these polluters and their government enablers are.

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