Throughout the facility are a number of so-called “ponds” which are extraordinarily polluted and sit at the very top of the headwaters of the Los Angeles River across the Ventura County line to the east. Dioxin was detected in SSFL’s R2 pond at levels as high as 12,400 parts per trillion (ppt). In a July 2005 dioxin OEHHA report (by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s Pesticide and Environmental Toxicology Branch), a proposed Public Health Goal (PHG) of 0.001 ppt had been developed for 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) in drinking water. The R2 Pond is not used for drinking water, of course, as its dioxin level exceeds the PHG by 1,240,000 times. It also exceeds the U.S. EPA’s “Maximum Contaminant Level” for drinking water by 413,333 times and blows through the federal agency’s “ambient water criteria level” by a whopping 2,480,000,000 times, or by a factor of nearly two and half billion.
(Click thumbnail to view entire photograph)
SSFL drainages 8-07
2003 SSFL surface water map
SSFL is made up of four areas and the R2 Pond, above, is located in Area II which is administered by site owner Boeing and NASA. The white building above this pond was torn down in 2006 but its legacy remains.
The Propellant Load Facility was
used to add the high tech fuel for the fourth and final stage for the nuclear bomb-tipped MX Peacekeeper missile. That exotic
fuel mixture, made up in part of Monomethyl Hydrazine (MMH) and Nitrogen Tetroxide, is extremely toxic and has polluted this
and other SSFL ponds.
Cleaning up these ponds is an expensive and complicated job. Under government oversight, Boeing is using cutting-edge
technology to try to bring down the level of pollutants to acceptable levels. This will take great effort because the amount of
goo in these ponds is almost unfathomable.
The R2 Pond was reported as having dioxins at astronomical levels according to "Blinded by the Light," a 2004 Los Angeles CityBeat newspaper article by EnviroReporter.com's Michael Collins.
Futuristic-looking multi-step remediation systems are not surprising when it comes to the Santa Susana Field Laboratory,
scheduled for completion in 2017 according to an historic cleanup agreement initiated by Rocketdyne activists and California
State Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles), whose 23rd District abuts the lab.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB-990
which promises to clean up Rocketdyne and forbid future development by keeping the land public open space.
What is surprising, however, is the boat that Boeing keeps next to this "pond". Notable for the polluted waters it plies, this boat also has a 2007 boating license affixed to its side.
This is ironic considering that such a license is used for, among other things, for boating on rivers, like the Los Angeles River just a few miles below this headwaters pond.
25 Years of Award-Winning SSFL/Rocketdyne Reporting
1998 – 2023