— Lawsuit over Newsom administration sweetheart deal with Boeing on SSFL cleanup

From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility PEER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 6, 2022
Contact
Jeff Ruch, PEER, jruch@peer.org (510) 213-7028
Melissa Bumstead, Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab Santasusanacampaign@gmail.com (818) 233-0642
Denise Duffield, Physicians for Social Responsibility, dduffield@psr-la.org (310) 339-9676
Lawrence Yee lhyee306@gmail.com 


Boeing’s Weak Santa Susana Cleanup Triggers Lawsuit 

Sweetheart Deal Negotiated Behind Closed Doors Violates CEQA Mandates  

Oakland — The Newsom administration’s backroom deal with the Boeing Co. to dramatically weaken cleanup standards at the profoundly polluted Santa Susana Field Laboratory violates the public involvement and transparency requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), charges a lawsuit filed today by community and public health groups. The suit would open the cleanup agreement to public scrutiny and force the state agencies and the Boeing Co. to justify a cleanup methodology that leaves 90% of the contamination onsite.

Filed today in Ventura County Superior Court by Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab, Physicians for Social Responsibility (LA Chapter), and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the suit would, if successful, vacate both the cleanup agreement and an accompanying promise to free Boeing from toxic stormwater discharge requirements.

“This suit does not prevent cleanup from beginning immediately but instead aims to ensure it continues until it is fully completed,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, noting that under a prior Consent Order, the cleanup was supposed to have been completed back in 2017. “This lawsuit is about having this cleanup done right and well beyond the outrageous ‘rip and skip’ deal that Boeing wrangled behind closed doors.”

After repeatedly promising to enforce a 2007 legally binding cleanup agreement with Boeing, the Newsom administration secretly negotiated an 800-page agreement that “supersedes” the prior order by substantially relaxing key cleanup requirements, allowing hundreds of times higher levels of toxic chemicals than previously permitted, and leaving much the contamination onsite.

“Because my daughter has fought cancer twice, I know firsthand why a complete cleanup is needed to protect our children,” said Melissa Bumstead, President of Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab, representing families afflicted with diseases associated with contaminants at that site. “Our kids deserve to grow up safe from the daily threat of exposure to toxic and carcinogenic contamination. Their health and quality of life matter more than Boeing’s profit.”

The deal is so bad that Lawrence Yee who had been Chair of the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board, testified against it as a private citizen. He is joining with the groups advocating for a full cleanup at Santa Susana.

“The Boeing agreement will put surrounding communities at a perpetual risk of exposure to harmful contamination. We owe it to current and future generations to ensure that all of the contamination is cleaned up as promised,” added Dr. Robert Dodge, President of PSR-LA. “It is a shocking betrayal by the Newsom Administration and yet another example of why there is such little public confidence in California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control.”

The groups are represented in this litigation by the Oakland-based law firm LozeauDrury LLP.

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See the complaint

Look at supporting brief

Examine deficiencies in Boeing cleanup deal

Read Lawrence Yee’s statement

https://peer.org/boeings-weak-santa-susana-cleanup-triggers-lawsuit/

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— Newsom Lets Boeing Keep Groundwater Forever Polluted at Santa Susana

From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility — PEER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
CONTACT
Jeff Ruch (510) 213-7028 jruch@peer.org 

Newsom Lets Boeing Keep Groundwater Forever Polluted

New Deal Sets No Timetable for Cleaning Highly Toxic Santa Susana Aquifer

Oakland, CA — The Newsom administration has executed a Covenant “in perpetuity” with the Boeing Company allowing the highly polluted groundwater under the Santa Susana Field Laboratory to remain polluted for “an indeterminate amount of time,” according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This arrangement will save Boeing a considerable amount of money by relieving it of any concrete remediation responsibilities or liability for the acutely polluted aquifer left behind on the controversial Venture County site, ten miles from downtown Los Angeles.

This deal is the latest chapter in a sweeping sweetheart deal the Newsom administration reached with Boeing this summer to absolve the corporation from having to clean up an estimated 90% of the polluted soil and from having to retain a stormwater discharge permit.

This reverses the state’s longstanding position that protecting public health requires a complete groundwater cleanup. In addition, leaving groundwater untreated for an indeterminate period –

  • Further imperils drinking and agricultural water supplies in Ventura County, where contaminants from the Santa Susana aquifer are already appearing;
  • Ignores further migration of contaminated water from the Santa Susana aquifer to other neighboring aquifers; and
  • Would allow Boeing to continue to apply the groundwater onsite for “dust suppression and irrigation,” possibly creating a new surface water threat.

“This deal condemns Santa Susana to serve as a perpetual sacrifice zone dedicated to corporate convenience,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out that any timelines for cleaning the groundwater have evaporated in the state’s latest deal with Boeing. “Bottling up a toxic plume for eternity and then walking away is a deal most polluters would love.”

PEER is leading a coalition of groups suing the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and Boeing to invalidate all facets of this closed-door settlement on the grounds that it violates the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), especially with respect to the total lack of public involvement or consideration of alternatives. Ironically, DTSC is the state agency charged with enforcing CEQA.

The existence of the Covenant was revealed by a legal notice DTSC placed in a local newspaper one month after the Covenant was recorded.

“Until last year, DTSC contended that aquifer restoration at Santa Susana was a legally required public health measure; the exact opposite of its current stand,” added Ruch, pointing out that DTSC has completely adopted Boeing’s position. “The Newsom administration is now so deep into Boeing’s pocket they could collect lint.”

###

Read the DTSC-Boeing groundwater covenant

Look at reports of groundwater migration from SSFL

See DTSC 2019 demand that SSFL groundwater be cleaned to protect public health

Look at the soil and surface water cleanup deals

See the PEER lawsuit

View the DTDC public notice

https://peer.org/newsom-lets-boeing-keep-groundwater-forever-polluted/

“Worst nuclear disaster in US history” — MSNBC airs documentary about Santa Susana Field Lab nationwide on Nov. 14; Screening in Ojai on Nov. 5

From Physicians for Social Responsibility

MSNBC has acquired “In the Dark of the Valley,” an award-winning documentary film that chronicles the lives of a group of mothers turned advocates (Parents vs SSFL) who come face to face with corporate interests and governmental apathy in their fight to clean up the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL.) The film will air nationwide on Sunday November 14 at 10 pm EST.  SSFL is a former nuclear and rocket-engine testing site located in the hills above the Simi and San Fernando valleys that remains heavily polluted with toxic contamination. 

PSR-LA Board President Dr. Robert Dodge and Associate Director Denise Duffield are featured throughout the documentary, working alongside community members and organizational allies as we have for over 30 years. We urge our members and supporters to view this important, poignant, and moving film.

In the Dark of the Valley has also been racking up awards on the film festival circuit, winning Best Documentary at the Phoenix Film Festival, the Catalina Film Festival, and Best Feature Documentary, Best Director, and Best Editing at the Angeles Documentaries. It will also screen at The Ojai Film Festival on Friday November 5 at 10 a.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here. View the film trailer below.

https://www.psr-la.org/new-documentary-film-about-santa-susana-field-lab-features-psr-la/

The 2018 Woolsey fire at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (VIDEOS)

Legacy of a 60 Year Old Meltdown

Journalist Harvey Wasserman and Denise Duffield, Associate Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility- L.A. discussed the  Woolsey Fire, its implications, and the California and corporate refusals to clean-up the SSFL site, endangering residents daily, in these excerpts from the December 2018 meeting of Americans for Democratic Action – Southern California, in Culver City.

The Woolsey fire started at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory site, and based on helicopter sightings, was likely started by a transformer malfunction and fire at a Southern California Edison substation located there.

———————————————–

Additional resources
After The Dust Settles: A Woolsey Fire Sampling Update
https://www.fairewinds.org/woolsey-fire-blog/after-the-dust-settles 

PSR-LA https://www.psr-la.org/

Solartopia.org

Denise Duffield
PSR-LA Associate Director
dduffield (at) psr-la.org

Legacy of a Meltdown
By James Heddle & Mary Beth Brangan – EON
https://nonukesca.net/legacy-of-a-meltdown/

— California Woolsey fire burns nuclear meltdown site SSFL; Physicians for Social Responsibility responds to LA Magazine misinformation

From Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles

November 9, 2018

THE SANTA SUSANA FIELD LABORATORY (ROCKETDYNE) BURNED IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE, THREATENING TOXIC EXPOSURES FROM CONTAMINATED DUST, SMOKE, ASH AND SOIL. THE DEPARTMENT OF TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL DENIES RISK THAT IT CREATED BY DELAYING THE LONG PROMISED CLEANUP.

For Immediate Release: November 9, 2018

Contact: Denise Duffield, 310-339-9676 or dduffield@psr-la.org, Melissa Bumstead 818-298-3192* or melissabumstead@sbcglobal.net,


Last night, the Woolsey fire burned the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), a former nuclear and rocket engine testing site. Footage from local television showed flames surrounding rocket test stands, and the fire’s progress through to Oak Park indicates that much of the toxic site burned.

statement released by the California Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) said that its staff, “do not believe the fire has caused any releases of hazardous materials that would pose a risk to people exposed to the smoke.” The statement failed to assuage community concerns given DTSC’s longtime pattern of misinformation about SSFL’s contamination and its repeated broken promises to clean it up.

“We can’t trust anything that DTSC says,” said West Hills resident Melissa Bumstead, whose young daughter has twice survived leukemia that she blames on SSFL and who has mapped 50 other cases of rare pediatric cancers near the site. Bumstead organized a group called “Parents vs. SSFL” and launched a Change.org petition demanding full cleanup of SSFL that has been signed by over 410,000 people. “DTSC repeatedly minimizes risk from SSFL and has broken every promise it ever made about the SSFL cleanup. Communities throughout the state have also been failed by DTSC. The public has no confidence in this troubled agency,” said Bumstead.

Continue reading

US govt won’t compensate Santa Susanna Field Laboratory workers exposed to radiation

Some experts say SSFL was the worst nuclear disaster in U.S. history.

April 18,2016

Highlights:

Department of Energy says only Santa Susana workers in Area IV could be exposed to radiation

But former nuclear workers say the system wasn’t so tidy and that they deserve medical compensation

Tales of sodium reactor waste dump, radioactive mist

Continue reading

“LA’s Nuclear Secret” airs tonight 11 PM PDT, KNBC

From the Santa Susanna Work Group

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT
Tonight, KNBC Channel 4 will air the first segment of a year long investigation into the Santa Susana Field Laboratory during the 11 pm news. A second segment will run Tuesday evening. Click here to view a trailer for the series. 
We are also excited to announce that:
  • The KNBC investigation will be screened at the SSFL Work Group meeting on Thursday, followed by discussion with KNBC investigative reporter Joel Grover. producer Matthew Glasser, and community members and former workers featured in the investigation.
  • Pete Noyes, veteran Los Angeles newsman and producer of the NBC series in 1979 reported by Warren Olney that first disclosed the partial meltdown at SSFL, will speak about his decades of experience covering the story.
Remarkable new information about Boeing’s own extraordinarily high cancer risk estimates for SSFL contamination and its plans to not clean up the vast majority of the polluted soil will also be revealed. 
DON’T MISS THIS IMPORTANT SSFL WORK GROUP MEETING!  
Thursday, September 24, 6:30 PM
Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center
3050 E. Los Angeles Avenue, Simi Valley, CA 93065
We hope you will join us for some straight talk about SSFL and what you can do to ensure that it is fully cleaned up.
Please visit the SSFL website for reports on past meetings with presentations and videos as well as other useful information about the contamination at the site and status of cleanup.

To learn more visit http://www.ssflworkgroup.org or contact us at info@ssflworkgroup.org.


The Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), also known as Rocketdyne, is a former nuclear and rocket engine testing facility that is contaminated with radiological and chemical pollutants. The 2,850 acre site is near Simi Valley, Chatsworth, Canoga Park, Woodland Hills, West Hills, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Calabasas, and Thousand Oaks. For over twenty years, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory Work Group has served to keep the community informed about the contamination at SSFL and assure it is thoroughly cleaned up.
SSFL Work Group · 1409 Kuehner Drive, #3 · Simi Valley, CA 93063 · USA

Nuclear amnesia — U.S. Senate testimony by Daniel Hirsch

Testimony of Daniel Hirsch,
President of Committee to Bridge the Gap
18 September 2008

Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Full testimony:

Click to access Hirsch%20EPW%20Testimony.pdf

Excerpts:

SSFL [Santa Susanna Field Laboratory] is a good case study of problems at federal nuclear facilities throughout the country. The AEC/DOE [Atomic Energy Commission/Department of Energy] for decades operated these extraordinarily dangerous enterprises with little consideration for environmental regulation or protection of the public.They felt they were above the law, and the affected people nearby simply did not matter.

Corners were cut, rules bent, safety restrictions ignored. When accidents resulted, they were covered up.

Leaking high level waste tanks at Hanford, contamination from reactor accidents and improper waste disposal at INEEL, reprocessing failures at Savannah River, releases from Paducah and Oak Ridge and so many other nuclear sites—the story is always the same. Sloppy practices, inadequate attention to safety, lack of concern about the neighboring public, failure to be candid about problems—the result has been contamination that is amongst the biggest environmental insults this country has ever faced…

There are some who now argue for a revival of all things nuclear. They want scores more reactors. They want irradiated nuclear fuel to be reprocessed. They want breeder reactors to make even more plutonium.

But to do that, they need the country to experience a kind of nuclear amnesia.

They need us to forget the meltdown of the SRE [Sodium Reactor Experiment’, the explosion of the SL-1 [Idaho], the near-disaster of the N reactor [Hanford]. They need us to forget the immense contamination from the last time we tried reprocessing, the tens of billions of dollars it is costing to try to redress the damage from reprocessing at Hanford, Savannah River, and West Valley. They need us to forget the meltdown of the EBR-1 breeder in Idaho and Fermi I breeder, when we almost lost Detroit.

For those in the impacted communities from the last nuclear era, it all seems like nuclear déjà vu again. We hear echoes of all the old discredited claims again: that nuclear will be “too cheap to meter,” even as the industry asks for a hundred billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies and guarantees; that we will somehow find a solution to the radioactive waste problem, even though sixty-six years after the first reactor wastes were created no solution is in sight; that the risk of accident is non-existent, even as industry asks for immunity from liability from such accidents; that proliferation and terrorism risks can be ignored, even as we face a world in which countries are getting nuclear weapons from civil nuclear technology.

We hear the same old claims that nuclear is safe and clean;

yet our communities are still trying to get the government to clean up the radioactive contamination from all the past nuclear accidents, spills, and other releases from the last time we tried this.

It is said that those who forget the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat them, and repeat them, and repeat them. A sensible energy policy cannot depend upon collective amnesia. The last time we went down this road, it resulted in an unmitigated disaster for which we are still paying, in billions and billions of dollars of cleanup expenses, but more importantly, in poisoned land and water, and cancers in brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, cousins and nephews.

Let us learn from our mistakes rather than going blindly into repeating them. Otherwise, this deeply troubled nuclear past will indeed be prologue.