— 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.

Nuclear reactor accidents, including a famous partial meltdown, tens of thousands of rocket engine tests, and sloppy environmental practices have left SSFL polluted with widespread radioactive and chemical contamination. Government-funded studies indicate increased cancers for offsite populations associated with proximity to the site, and that contamination migrates offsite over EPA levels of concern. In 2010, DTSC signed agreements with the Department of Energy and NASA that committed them to clean up all detectable contamination in their operational areas by 2017. DTSC also in 2010 committed to require Boeing, which owns most of the site, to cleanup to comparable standards. But the cleanup has not yet begun, and DTSC is currently considering proposals that will leave much, if not all, of SSFL’s contamination on site permanently.

Dr. Robert Dodge, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, shares the community’s concerns. “We know what substances are on the site and how hazardous they are. We’re talking about incredibly dangerous radionuclides and toxic chemicals such a trichloroethylene, perchlorate, dioxins and heavy metals. These toxic materials are in SSFL’s soil and vegetation, and when it burns and becomes airborne in smoke and ash, there is real possibility of heightened exposure for area residents.”

Dodge said protective measures recommended during any fire, such as staying indoors and wearing protective face masks, are even more important given the risks associated with SSFL’s contamination. Community members are organizing a campaign on social media to demand that DTSC release a public statement revealing the potential risks of exposure to SSFL contamination related to the fire.

But for residents such as Bumstead, worries will remain until SSFL is fully cleaned up. “When I look at that fire, all I see is other parents’ future heartache,” said Bumstead, “And what I feel is anger that if the DTSC had kept its word, we wouldn’t have these concerns, because the site would be cleaned up by now.”

###

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA) is the largest chapter of the national organization Physicians for Social Responsibility and has worked for the full cleanup of SSFL for over 30 years.. PSR-LA advocates for policies and practices that protect public health from nuclear and environmental threats and eliminate health disparities.

Parents vs. SSFL is a grassroots group of concerned parents and residents who demand compliance with cleanup agreements signed in 2010 that require a full cleanup of all radioactive and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

*The phone number for Melissa Bumstead has been corrected, an earlier version of this press release had an incorrect number.

RESPONSE TO LA MAGAZINE ARTICLE:

On November 10, Los Angeles Magazine ran an article claiming there was no risk related to SSFL contamination from the Woolsey fire that we now know actually began on the SSFL property itself. Below is our response.

Los Angeles Magazine must print a correction – this article is filled with errors and misinformation:

  1. There is no need to put quotes around “significantly contaminated” – SSFL is one of the most contaminated sites in the nation, subject of a promised but long-delayed state and federal cleanup; it is heavily contaminated with well documented nuclear and chemical contamination, from, among other things, a partial nuclear meltdown.
  2. The claim in the first hours of the fire by DTSC, an agency that has no public confidence to the point that the state legislature commissioned an Independent Review Panel to investigate its failings (which include the Exide fiasco in Vernon,) that it didn’t “believe” there was a risk is cover for its failure to live up to its cleanup commitments (it had promised the site would be cleaned up by 2017 and the cleanup hasn’t even begun). It is pure conjecture. DTSC does not have have any scientific data to back up the claim. It based the spurious assertion on its claim that the fire in its first hours was not in areas where contamination could be released, but the state fire department now shows almost all of the contaminated site as within the fire boundary.
  3. DTSC did not release it’s statement in response to the Forbes article, it released it the night before, when virtually nothing was known about the extent of the fire at SSFL
  4. SSFL is NEVER referred to as Area IV – that is simply one area in the site, the area where most of the nuclear activity occurred
  5. Given the extent of contamination in the site’s soil and vegetation, it is indeed possible and likely that contamination from the site was spread further from the fire in smoke, dust, and ash.

The bottom line is it irresponsible to claim that SSFL contamination was not spread further by the fire. Los Angeles Magazine may wish to read its own cover story from 1998: HOT ZONE – Rocketdyne’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory was on the front lines of the Cold War. Now some who lived near “The Hill” say they share two distinctions: chronic illness and the unswerving belief that the lab caused it.

https://www.psr-la.org/woolsey-fire-burns-nuclear-meltdown-site-that-state-toxics-agency-failed-to-clean-up/

See also

https://www.vcstar.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/02/11/dodge-hirsch-santa-susana-field-lab-broken-promises/97766134/

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— Action needed tomorrow at Los Angeles Board of Supervisors on Santa Susana Field Lab cleanup

From SSFL Working Group

March 13, 2017

The Dept. of Energy’s Broken Promises-
The Fight for Full Cleanup Continues

Action Needed Tomorrow- Come and Testify!
LA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING

Tuesday, March 14, 9:00 a.m.
Board Hearing Room 381B
Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration

550 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

We need you to attend the LA County Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow to testifyin support of Supervisors Kuehl and Barger.  They are proposing a resolution that demands the Dept. of Energy (DOE) live up to the cleanup standards set by the 2010 cleanup agreement and condemns their current Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for violating it.  We will be meeting there at 9:00 AM.  See address listed above.

If you attended the March 8 meeting, PLEASE MAIL IN YOUR COMMENT CARD.
At the meeting you received a card on which to write your comment on the DOE’s Draft EIS.  If you have not done so already, please finish writing your comment and mail it in.
The deadline for commenting has been postponed to April 13th.  
The address is already printed on the card.  It requires First Class postage (either $0.49 or a Forever stamp).

Thank you to all who attended the March 8th SSFL Work Group meeting- we were delighted to see so many new attendees as well as familiar faces and a few representatives of our elected officials.

A special thanks to Melissa Bumstead, and the other parents and families of the SSFL community inflicted by pediatric cancer, for hosting a beautiful candlelight vigil before the meeting to raise awareness about the health hazards of the contamination migrating offsite into our neighborhoods.

Thank you also to Mohsen Nazemi, Deputy Director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Brownfields and Environmental Restoration Program, for coming and ensuring the community that the Dept. of Toxic Substances Control is committed to enforcing the 2010 cleanup agreement to background that the Dept. of Energy signed.

What You Can Do

Attend the LA County Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow at 9AM and testify in support of the resolution on SSFL.

Mail in the comment card for the DOE’s DEIS you received if you attended the March 8th Work Group meeting.

Submit a comment demanding that the DOE clean up all contamination at SSFL.

Ask your friends, family, and neighbors to also submit a comment and attend the DOE hearings. Please forward this email and share on social media.

Background

The Department of Energy (DOE) is attempting to break its obligation to clean up all of the nuclear and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), proposing instead to leave between 30 -99% of the contamination not cleaned up. That is dangerous and unacceptable!

All of the alternatives directly violate the Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) that DOE signed in 2010, which committed them to clean up all detectable contamination. DOE’s DEIS also fails to acknowledge that DOE as the polluter doesn’t have the authority to decide how much of the mess that it made is going to get cleaned up. The decision rests with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, not DOE.

Click here to learn more about key problems with DOE’s DEIS. Click here to read the DEIS itself.

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

— Los Angeles: DOE breaks agreement to clean up Santa Susana Field Lab contamination; may leave behind 94%

For action and upcoming meetings, go to http://www.ssflworkgroup.org

From the Ventura County Star

February 11, 2017

Our region has just been hit by two significant events that affect the health of our community.

While we have long awaited some relief for our drought, torrential rainstorms inundated the Santa Susana Field Lab, one of the most polluted places in the state. Runoff from far lesser storms in recent years resulted in more than 200 instances in which highly toxic and radioactive contaminants migrated off site at levels in excess of state pollution limits, and one can only imagine the effect these recent large storms have had.

Around the same time, the Department of Energy broke its solemn cleanup commitments and announced it would leave as much as 94 percent of the soil contaminated at the field lab site not cleaned up. Unless people rise up and our elected officials act strongly to enforce the promises, people in neighboring communities will be at perpetual risk from migrating radioactivity and toxic chemicals.

The field lab housed 10 nuclear reactors, of which at least four suffered accidents, including a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959. There was a factory for fabricating reactor fuel rods out of plutonium, perhaps the most dangerous substance on earth. In a “hot lab” there, highly irradiated nuclear fuel rods shipped in from around the nation were cut apart, with several radioactive fires.

It illegally burned radioactive and chemically hazardous wastes in open air pits, by shooting barrels of the waste with rifles to ignite them, with the toxic plumes blown over surrounding communities. It conducted tens of thousands of rocket tests, many using very dangerous fuels, and then flushed out the engines with a million gallons of toxic solvents that were allowed to simply percolate into the soil and groundwater.

The result of this shameful violation of basic environmental protections is widespread contamination of groundwater, surface water and soil with strontium-90, cesium-137, plutonium-239, perchlorate, PCBs, dioxins, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and much more. And because the site sits in the hills overlooking more than 500,000 people within 10 miles, the contamination wants to flow off site to the places and people below.

The site has been fined more than $1 million in recent years for allowing pollutants to migrate off the property at levels deemed unsafe for people or the environment. And as long as the site doesn’t get cleaned up, that will continue.

These awful materials cause cancers including leukemia, genetic defects, neurological and developmental disorders and other health problems. A federally funded study by Dr. Hal Morgenstern of the University of Michigan found a greater than 60 percent increase in key cancers in people living near the site compared with people living farther away. Another government-funded study by a team from UCLA led by Dr. Yoram Cohen concluded that numerous pollutants from the site had migrated off site at levels in excess of EPA levels of concern.

For these reasons, the community was joyous in 2010 when the Department of Energy and NASA signed legally binding agreements with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control requiring all contamination that could be detected in the soil to be cleaned up by 2017.

It is now 2017 and the cleanup hasn’t even begun. And the DOE just issued a draft environmental impact statement breaking the 2010 cleanup agreement and saying it will only consider three options, none of which comply with its past commitments.

One would leave 34 percent of the contamination in place. A second would leave 86 percent. And the third would walk away from a staggering 94 percent of the contaminated soil, just leaving it in place. The 2010 agreement barred any consideration of leave-in-place alternatives.

The DOE has essentially thumbed its nose at California. Even if the cleanup agreement didn’t exist, the decision on how much toxic pollution to clean up doesn’t rest with the polluter, but with the state regulator. The DOE can’t decide to just walk away from most of the contamination.

But the state has been remarkably silent so far in response to this assault on its authority. Indeed, it has in its own actions undercut the cleanup agreement it signed. Toxic Substances Control is years late on its own environmental impact report and has been busy undermining the cleanup in other ways as well.

In 2010, we were promised that, with a couple of narrow exceptions, all of the soil contamination that could be detected would be cleaned up. Now it appears likely than close to none will be, and the people in the area will continue to be at perpetual risk from migrating radioactive and toxic contamination — unless they speak out now, loud and clear, and their elected representatives do the same.

Robert Dodge, a family physician in Ventura, serves on the boards of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions. Daniel Hirsch is director of the Program on Environmental and Nuclear Policy at UC Santa Cruz and president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap.

 

http://www.vcstar.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/02/11/dodge-hirsch-santa-susana-field-lab-broken-promises/97766134/

Posted under Fair Use Rules.

— Cover-up of radioactive and toxic waste at San Francisco; whistleblowers fired; 25 millirem used for testing in violation of EPA standards

Video by the Labor Video Project
53:53

The 420-acre shipyard was one of the nation’s most notorious Superfund sites, home to a federal nuclear program begun in 1946 that included a secret laboratory [Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory] where tests were conducted to determine the effects of radiation on living organisms. Military equipment and ships contaminated by atomic bomb explosions were kept at Hunters Point, and the grounds were polluted with petroleum fuels, pesticides, heavy metals, PCBs, organic compounds and asbestos. — SF Chronicle, February 7, 2017

On February 8, 2017, government agencies held a  meeting on the state of clean up at San Francisco’s former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. It was an open format”  meeting with poster boards and reps scattered around the room, forcing people to individually talk with reps. This was done instead of a real meeting before the whole audience — presentations by the various oversight agencies and questions and answers from audience which would put them on record for their remarks and which everyone could hear. “A government propaganda show,” said a community advocate. This format was deliberately chosen for lack of accountability.

The Navy representative refused to answer a request to hold a meeting with presentations and debate.

Government representatives included:

Nina Bacey, California Dept of Toxic Substances Control
Amy Browntell, SF Department of Public Health
Lily Lee, EPA Cleanup Project Manager, Superfund Division
Zach?, U.S. Navy
Malia Cohen, SF Board of Supervisors

Community advocates who spoke on camera included:

Marie Harris, Green Action
Bradley Angel, Green Action
Dr. Ray Tomkins, environmental scientist
Daniel Hirsch, UCSC Executive Director on Environmental and      Nuclear Policy; Founder, Committee to Bridge the Gap

Comments and interviews:

3:10 Interview of Nina Bacey, California DTSC

16:13 Interview of Amy Brownell, SF Public Health

18:37 Marie Harris, Green Action

20:10 Bradley Angel, Green Action

22:11 Dr. Ray Tomkins, environmental scientist — on the testing

29:13 Interview of Lily Lee, EPA

35:10 Daniel Hirsch (UCSC) questions Lily Lee (EPA)

41:40 Interview of Malia Cohen, SF Supervisor

45:07 Bradley Angel, Green Action

From the Labor Video Project

Cover up blows up at SF Hunters Point Naval Shipyard “Clean-up” Meeting, 2-7-17

At a meeting at San Francisco Hunters Point superfund site, the US Navy, EPA, California Department of Toxic Substances and San Francisco Department of Public Health tried to explain what they are doing about the systemic falsification of testing at the highly contaminated site. There has been on Federal, state or local criminal investigation of the intimidation, workplace bullying and termination of health and safety testers and whistleblowers at Test America and Tetra Tech. The US Navy also said they are still employing Tetra Tech around the United States.

Continue reading

— Superfund site at Lawrence Livermore Lab under review — Comment Deadline July 1

From TriValley CAREs http://www.trivalleycares.org

Site 300’s Hazardous Waste Operations- Under Review

Updated June 28, 2016

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has not issued a hazardous waste permit to Livermore Lab’s Site 300 since 1997. After a failed permit process in 2007, in which public comment was taken, but then abandoned and never responded to, DTSC has recently issued a new Draft Hazardous Waste Permit for Site 300.

The High Explosives Testing done at Site 300 (in support of nuclear weapons development) produces significant quantities of hazardous waste, which contains or is contaminated with high explosives and a slurry of other toxins. Much of these wastes are burned in on-site incinerators. Site 300 is a Superfund site, with serious contamination from historical mismanagement of hazardous waste. The hazardous waste operations continue to threaten the environment and human health.

A public hearing was held in Tracy on April 27th in which the present community was given a short presentation and allowed to ask questions. The DTSC was unable to answer many of the questions. Comments were taken on the record.

The public now has until Friday, July 1st to submit their written comment to the DTSC. Tri-Valley CAREs submitted a formal written request to extend the comment period to this date. That extension was granted.

Written comments are to be postmarked or emailed by July 1, 2016 and sent to: Alejandro Galdamez, Project Manager, DTSC Office of Permitting, 700 Heinz Avenue, Suite 300, Berkeley, California 94710 or via electronic mail at Alejandro.Galdamez@dtsc.ca.gov .

Tri-Valley CAREs has drafted a short “sign and send” comment that you can sign and send electronically.

Click here for an English version of the “sign and send” comment that you can download, print and mail in.

Click here for an Spanish version of the “sign and send” comment that you can download, print and mail in. We are in the process of drafting more detailed comments.

Click here for the Draft Permit’s Environmental Review

Click here for the Summary Report of Ecological Risk Assessment for the Operation of the Explosives Waste Treatment Facility at Site 300 of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Click here for the Soil Sample Report In Support of the Site 300 Explosives Waste Treatment Facility Ecological Risk Assessment and Permit Renewal

Site 300’s Hazardous Waste Operations- Under Review