[KB Home’s Runkle Canyon development is now called Arroyo Vista at the Woodlands]

Empire State Atomic Development Authority

Not all facilities in the 270-acre Area IV of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory were part of ETEC, the Department of Energy’s Energy Technology Engineering Center which is undergoing a cleanup that could cost up to $221.4 million. ESADA was one of those facilities outside of ETEC and the site closest to the headlands of Runkle Canyon where KB Home hopes to build 461 homes downhill, and down-drainage, from the astronomically-polluted site. Indeed, the Burro Flats Fault, seen below, runs underneath the ESADA and down into Runkle Canyon and the facility has had high readings of the same kind of pollutants found in Runkle Canyon below. Debris identical to that still found at the now-torn down ESADA lies in the area above Runkle Canyon outside of Area IV’s perimeter fence.

In the 1960’s, the 1.5-acre site was used primarily for testing piping burst characteristics under sodium water reaction conditions at Building 814. Underground piping connected B814 to a concrete-lined pool just north of B886 at the intensely polluted Sodium Burn Pit. It is possible that the Burro Flats Fault helped transport that sodium down into Runkle Canyon which tests extremely high for the salt.

The ESADA concrete pool was used for cleaning alkali bearing components. In the late 1960s, the ESADA area was utilized for drum storage and surrogate fuel pellet testing. It was called the ESADA Chemical Storage Yard and was used for the storage of more than 500 drums containing DowanolTM glycol ethers and ethanol, and an unspecified number of empty drums. Approximately 120 drums contained Dowanol PM (propylene glycol methyl ether), which was nearly saturated with sodium. The Dowanol PM was used to clean piping and components at the Sodium Reactor Experiment. Over 400 of the drums contained denatured ethanol. The ethanol drums had varying concentrations of sodium, and some of them were known to have leaked. The eastern ESADA area was used as pistol range and remains polluted with dangerous amounts of antimony, arsenic, boron, lead, and selenium. Aluminum, vanadium and, not surprisingly, sodium are also found in high concentrations. All buildings have been demolished but further remediation remains at ESDA.

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20 years of ongoing SSFL/Rocketdyne investigative reporting
June 1998June 2018