Unraveling Runkle - Rev. John Southwick makes the case for concernby Michael Collins

Los Angeles CityBeat/ValleyBeat – September 28, 2006

Dozens of exasperated residents converged on Simi Valley City Hall Monday night, spurred on by last week’s report in this paper (“The Hills Have Eyes”), and worried the development of 461 homes in Runkle Canyon was being pushed through without a promised city council review. That story reported that the Simi Valley City Council had agreed with Los Angeles-based developer KB Home that Runkle Canyon was not negatively impacted by radioactive strontium-90 (Sr-90) from the neighboring lab known as Rocketdyne.

This was news to the assembled, since the council had promised residents a report on the matter. That report by Al Boughey, director of Environmental Services, discounted previous information in CityBeat and ValleyBeat (and the supporting website EnviroReporter.com) that the leukemia-causing radionuclide was detected on the property well above Environmental Protection Agency standards for residential soil.

Boughey admitted that Runkle Canyon had tested high for Sr-90 but with a proviso: “The results of many of these tests exceed the EPA’s Preliminary Remediation Goals,” he wrote in the August 23 document. “Based on the concentration of strontium-90 and the cancer risk associated with that concentration, exposure to dust from the site would not pose a public health risk on or off site.”

The Boughey report, which was not released to the public until Monday night after community prompting, did little to assuage residents’ fears. Members of the council also cautioned against moving too quickly on the project, even though the already-approved Runkle Canyon Environmental Impact Report (EIR) declared the site strontium-safe.

“All that I know is that when we took this oath up here it was for the health and welfare of the community,” said Council Member Barbra Williamson. “There is a possibility that we have gotten [an EIR] that is flawed. Quite frankly, like the rest of you, I wouldn’t want a house built up there; I wouldn’t want dirt moved until I knew in my heart of hearts that it’s okay to do that. And I can’t believe that KB Homes would want to do that either.”

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