The Ventura County Reporter cover story “Dirty Business – New law cleaning up Rocketdyne for parkland may not stop adjacent KB Home development pushed by Simi Valley City Council” included quotes culled from these selected excerpts.
The speakers, who were limited to three minutes apiece in public comment, included “Toxic Terry” Matheney and “The Good Reverend John” Southwick of the Radiation Rangerswho have a website called StopRunkledyne.com.
Christina Walsh, of CleanUpRocketdyne.org and Mary Wiesbrock of Save Open Space also spoke along with a total of twelve citizens. After the residents spoke, various council members and the mayor addressed the issue even though the issue wasn’t agendized.
The City of Simi Valley’s website has archives of their city council meetings, including this one. On the Live and Archived Media page, you can watch the public comments by ‘jumping’ in the video section to “3A. Public Statements” which include comments by Mayor Paul Miller at the end of them. Further council comments can be watched by ‘jumping’ to “3B. City Council/Special District Reports.”
Selected sequential excerpts:
“Regarding Runkle Canyon, I am very curious why you want to kill me? Why do you want to kill my family? Why do you want to kill my friends? And why do you want to kill yourselves in the whole process? Runkle Canyon is contaminated. There’s lots of tests out there stating the facts. It’s right down from the worst nuclear meltdown in American history. You all need to wake up because it really seems to me that you guys want to build on that land; you want KB Homes to build on that land and, you know, that’s going to destroy lives and you don’t even realize it. I mean if there are readings of strontium-90 in that soil to any extent, digging that up and bringing it into the air that we breathe, do you realize what that’s going to do? I mean, do you guys even care? I mean I’m just really curious – I really am and that’s all I really have to say.”
“I think the only safe thing to do is not to build houses right up against the Santa Susana Field Lab, a site that is known to be one of the most dangerous places in our country, a site that is so dangerous that an agreement has been made by the State not to build houses on it and now I believe that that same agreement for contaminated land that surrounds this site.”
Rev. John Southwick:
“I think you all have strong feelings about what Nancy Reagan used to say. And one of her big points was ‘Just Say No.’ And that’s what you folks have got to do with KB – just say no. This project should not be built without a new EIR.”
“My family and I own two businesses here in Simi Valley and we feel very very strongly about the atmosphere that you’ve created for us to work here, to live here, to play here. We’re just very very concerned about your choices with Runkle Canyon. As a business owner, we would love to see more people in the community but this is not the right thing to do. This is not the right thing to do.”
“We know the environmental hazards – everyone is reading the paper. We all have concerns about the environmental hazards there. I don’t want the dust coming up and my kids swimming in the pool and that in my backyard. we’ve had many cancers in our family. It’s not a fun thing to do. It just seems like all that the testing that’s been done raises so many questions, so many questions. KB Homes stands to profit so much from this project. Why can’t they do a new EIR to allay our fears and to make sure that it is the right thing to do because right now, to the public, it doesn’t look like the right thing to do. There are good ways and there are good growth opportunities in this city – this is not one of them. Not yet. It just seems like KB is so quick to just push this project along and it’s in our backyards and all of us will have to really live with the longstanding repercussions of this. We’re not talking about the crowding, the over-crowding in the schools we’re living with; the traffic issues that we’ve tried to deal with, with the traffic manager who has been very helpful to us…”
“We just hope you take into consideration our concerns and demand that KB does a new EIR for us all.”
“If we hadn’t come forward to stop this thing, that home project would have started last August, been built and right now you would have a situation with toxins in that canyon in homes. We know the toxins are there. You checked it. We checked it. And yet the bill that was just signed, 990, and you guys supported that [law that passed]. To have that Santa Susana Field Lab cleaned up to its utmost. We feel that if it’s good enough for you guys to vote for that to be done on such a large scale up there, knowing that it’s toxic, then we should do the same thing down here. We feel that lives are at stake.
“You know, on that EIR, they said they had checked all those heavy metals and that they were all below. Well, let’s say that KB Homes was not lying, that they were true. Well that means we have new toxins flowing into that canyon. We’ve had two earthquakes in just the last few times. How do you know that those tectonic plates haven’t shuffled and some of that toxic goo isn’t coming down here? Or, we don’t even know, according to the meeting we just had down at the (Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center) how they’re going to clean it up. They all admitted that – the Department of Toxic Substances, Health and Safety – they admitted we don’t really know what’s there or what we have to do to clean it, or have the money to. But what if they flush that soil and try to bring out that trichloroethylene or some of these others. These are cancerous materials that you found and we found.
“We ask for a new EIR. We ask for this to be agendized. We want more than three minutes to talk about the safety of the people here in Simi Valley. I know you think that we have a beautiful view that we’re trying to protect but some of you live on Talbert and no we don’t. You have a better view down here than what we have up there. This is something serious where lives are at stake and right now they would be probably be moving in kids and animals and everything else up into that area that now you know there’s toxins in. You had told us that everything was alright and you said ‘I can’t believe that the EIR would be wrong but I think we owe an obligation to the people – I took an oath and we owe an obligation to protect the people of Simi Valley and we’ll check and see if this EIR is wrong.’ And I think we found that. If nothing else, it is not the same as what it was.
“I ask for a new EIR. This is not unreasonable. What would be unreasonable is to try and patch up something that you already know is wrong. It has to affect (the EIR) now that there are those things up there – the wildlife – your own paper said that. The man said ‘it has to affect the wildlife.’ If it gets into the arroyo who knows what it will affect. And it’s headed this way. Gravity does that.”
“Good evening Mayor and Council. I’ve never spoken before. I’m not a Toastmaster (and) don’t have any notes prepared or anything but I just wanted to speak out. I think it makes sense to step back and look at the big picture of what everybody for the most part is talking about and really emotional about at this meeting and that’s the Runkle Canyon issue. If so many people are worried about kids and the air they breathe, all these things; I don’t think three minutes is enough. I mean when we give someone a doctorate in this country, they have to sit in front of a panel and defend what they believe for hours at a time and now we’re going to put our on health at risk for it. It doesn’t make sense. I’m not going to say to anybody in the room that I’m against KB Homes building homes.
“I’m really a young adult. I live and work in Simi and I’d love to have my own home. I can’t afford it right now. The more homes built, the better chance I have to get one. A little place would be great – they don’t build them here but, so I’d love that but I don’t think it’s the right place to do it if we’re going to have toxins in the air, you know. The more mountain biking and street running I do, the quicker I die. I haven’t read all the reports. I’ve just been reading. I’m starting to get into it and read about the issues. Certainly, other citizens in the audience know more than I do but it just seems like we ought to do our due diligence, do our homework on it and try and get to the bottom of it. I was thrilled to hear that you guys did some testing and that was excellent, then I was just totally blown back and appalled – it seems like progress is still being made towards building homes instead of pulling the handbrake and saying ‘Whoa! What are we getting ourselves into?’
“I don’t know about you guys but I don’t like eating batteries but cadmium has been found – it’s the same thing. I wouldn’t put it in my body by choice. I wouldn’t blend it up in a blender and make a smoothie out of it and drink it and I certainly don’t want to put it in the air and breathe it. That’s one of so many heavy metals. You’ve heard all of them, strontium, all these (unintelligible). I’m not a chemist either. I’m an engineer and I know when you set a test limit on something, you do some experimentation; you find a limit. You don’t make up the limit. I mean, to say we come up with a health limit on something, that’s fine so, okay maybe we’re a little bit past the limit, you know, for what’s healthy for a person. First of all that’s not acceptable – that’s why we made a limit in the first place. We didn’t say about this much, we said this much is going to have serious health effects. So I don’t even want to talk about being a little over or under the limit.
“Now what happens when were 200 times over the limit or 400 times over the limit? That’s crazy. That’s like playing Russian Roulette with 20 bullets in a six-round revolver. It just doesn’t make sense. Anyway, thanks for you time. I hope that you take the issue to heart and realize that it’s probably not necessarily all of our lives but certainly your children’s lives if you have children and that kind of thing and animals and that kind of thing. It’s not just us, it’s the city that you represent. Anyway, I just wanted to take the time as a voter.”