— 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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— #ValleyVisits: California Sen. Bob Hertzberg thanks Rocketdyne, ignores their toxics and radioactive contamination of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties

Sen. Bob Hertzberg, nicknamed “Huggy” by colleagues, says he thinks in terms of “the big picture”. [1]

And he visited Aerojet Rocketdyne April 28:

First stop of the day on my #ValleyVisits tour…thank you for telling us about how you bring #SFVJobs. [1a]

But the “big picture” of the extensive contamination done by Rocketdyne at the former Santa Susana Field Laboratory near Simi Valley doesn’t seem to bother Hertzberg .[2]

WikiMap

Hertzberg has been strangely quiet when experts talk about the devastating impacts of Rocketdyne’s toxic chemicals, like TCE and perchlorate, migrating off-site. Massive amounts of chemicals were burned, dumped into unlined pits, dumped in ravines, and trucked away and dumped in the ocean. These chemicals are spreading and contaminating drinking water wells across the valley and run-off into both Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.

Then there is the massive radioactive contamination from Rocketdyne. In 1959 a serious nuclear accident at SSFL resulted in high levels of radioactivity being vented for weeks, particularly affecting San Fernando Valley residents as well as those of Simi Valley, but without any public notice or evacuations. This was the first of several nuclear accidents there which were kept secret. Radioactive waste was also continually burned and dumped, including plutonium. High levels of radioactive contamination remain on and in the soil. Where is Hertzberg? He isn’t hugging the people of Simi Valley and neighboring communities who are dealing with this issue.

In 2013, a report was published that SSFL clean-up officials were sending highly radioactive waste from the Rocketdyne site to ordinary recycling facilities or dumping it with the knowledge and cooperation of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the California Department of Public Health.[3]

Where was Hertzberg?

In 2014, DOE finally agreed to clean up the contamination, and DTSC promised to enforce that. However, now DOE wants to leave 39-99% of the contamination in place, and it is unclear if DTSC will stand by its promise and compel a complete cleanup.[4] If the contamination is not cleaned up, it will cause growing, generational impacts to people and wildlife – a very, very big picture.

Where is Sen. Hertzberg?

Hertzberg has said:

Get it done or get the heck out of the way is my philosophy. I start out as a holistic thinker. I’m the big picture, holistic thinker…It really boils down to the issue of getting the work done. I am sick and tired of the noise. Sick and tired of the empty promises.” [5]

Get it done”? Get what done?

Not the Santa Susana Field Laboratory cleanup. Not accountability. Not recompense for damaged lives. Not standing up for the rights of the public to safety in their homes and in their communities. Not creating new rules for how multinational corporations and public agencies operate in California.

Not leading.

We the public are sick and tired of empty promises, Sen. Hertzberg.

Protect the public, and their health and safety.

Or get the heck out of the way.

—-

Sen. Hertzberg’s website: http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Hertzberg

[1a] https://twitter.com/SenateHertzberg/status/858031069337178112

[2] http://data.nbcstations.com/national/KNBC/la-nuclear-secret/

http://www.rocketdynecleanupcoalition.org/files/Hirsch%20EPW%20Testimony.pdf

[3] http://committeetobridgethegap.org/SSFLDemolitionAndDisposalStudy.pdf

[4] http://www.rocketdynecleanupcoalition.org/doe-ssfl-eis/

https://youtu.be/NESH4S4ozdQ

https://youtu.be/z51P18Mi_ac

[5] http://www.laweekly.com/news/bob-hertzberg-interview-transcript-2139535

Also:

https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/04/21/decades-later-industry-and-regulators-fail-to-clean-up-former-rocket-test-site/   

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/investigations/LA-County-Demands-Full-Clean-Up-of-Toxic-Site-Above-the-Valleys-416174833.html

http://www.enviroreporter.com/sinsofrocketdyne/all/1/

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/investigations/LA-Nuclear-Secret-Behind-the-Story-328030031.html

http://www.ssflworkgroup.org/ssfl-offsite-contamination-data-presented-at-june-18-work-group-meeting/June 18, 2014

http://www.ssflworkgroup.org/Santa Susana Field Laboratory Working Group

http://committeetobridgethegap.org/ — Committee to Bridge the Gap

www.rocketdynecleanupcoalition.org — Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition

— Santa Susanna Field Lab March 8 meeting on DOE’s broken cleanup promises and how to ensure full cleanup

From the Santa Susanna Field Laboratory Work Group

NEXT SSFL WORK GROUP MEETING
Wednesday, March 8, 6:30 p.m.
Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center
3050 E. Los Angeles Avenue, Simi Valley, CA 93065
The Department of Energy (DOE) recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the SSFL cleanup in which every option proposed would breach the legally binding cleanup agreement it signed in 2010 to clean up all contamination at SSFL. DOE now proposes instead to leave between 39% and 99% of the contamination not cleaned up. DOE hearings this week demonstrated public anger at DOE proposing to break its cleanup commitments, but much more is needed to ensure that DOE will uphold its SSFL cleanup commitments.

Please join us on March 8 to learn more about:

  • The Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) agreement that DOE signed to clean up all contamination at SSFL, and how the DOE’s proposals violate it
  • The amounts of contamination that DOE is proposing leaving behind, and the risks associated with the contamination
  • Misinformation put forth by DOE to help it break out of the agreement
  • How the community can help ensure a full cleanup of SSFL

We look forward to seeing you on March 8th for some straight talk about SSFL.

PS. If you haven’t yet, please submit a comment demanding that DOE honor its commitment to clean up all contamination at SSFL, and ask your friends, family, and neighbors to do so as well.

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

— Los Angeles: Public meetings on SSFL cleanup — Tell Dept. of Energy to clean up Santa Susana contamination, not leave it behind!

From the Santa Susana Field Laboratory Work Group
February 13, 2017

“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.”  Read New Ventura County Star Op-Ed: Santa Susana Field Lab Broken Promises

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 34 -94% of the contamination not cleaned up. That is dangerous and unacceptable!

Urgent action is needed to protect communities near SSFL!

1. Attend one or both of the upcoming DOE hearings and voice your concerns.

  • Saturday, February 18, 2017, 9:00 a.m. – 12 p.m. Grand Vista Hotel, 999 Enchanted Way, Simi Valley, CA (Open house from 9 – 9:30 a.m.)
  • Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Airtel Plaza Hotel, 7277 Valjean Avenue, Van Nuys, CA (Open house from 6 – 6:30 p.m.)

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

3. 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 DOE recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that proposes three alternative cleanup plans for its operational area of SSFL, which is where most of the nuclear contamination is located. The three alternatives would respectively leave up to 34%, 86% or up to 94% of the contamination on site, where it can continue to migrate and put nearby communities at risk.

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. Again, it is critical that as many people as possible attend the DOE hearings and submit comments demanding a full cleanup of SSFL. Thank you!.

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-five 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.

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

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