— NASA scam declares SSFL exempt from cleanup

From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility – PEER

For Immediate Release:  Thursday, October 1, 2020
Contact:  Jeff Ruch (510) 213-7028; Kirsten Stade kstade@peer.org

Nuclear Cleanup Scam on Supremely Contaminated Site

Historic Designation for Santa Susana Lab Excuses Remediation Obligations

Washington, DC — One of the nation’s most highly contaminated sites may escape cleanup by its designation as a cultural district for Native American artifacts, according to formal comments filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  This attempted maneuver seeks to expand a small loophole in a legally binding cleanup agreement to exempt the entire nearly 3,000-acre highly contaminated site, which includes a partial nuclear reactor core meltdown, from long overdue remediation.

Santa Susana Field Laboratory is a former nuclear reactor and rocket testing facility, home to a partial nuclear meltdown and numerous other radioactive accidents and toxic chemical releases.  It is located in Simi Valley, Ventura County, California, 30 miles northwest of downtown LA.

After a prolonged, tortured history, the site is now under a legally binding cleanup agreement requiring restoration of the site to its condition before it was polluted. There is a very narrow exemption for “Native American artifacts that are formally recognized as Cultural Resources.”

NASA, one of the site’s owners, has nominated the entire Santa Susana site as a Cultural District and declaring all 2,850 acres of soil, much of it extremely contaminated, exempt from cleanup as a purported “Native American artifact.”  This proposal adding the entire Santa Susana site to the National Register of Historic Places is now before the National Park Service.

“This scam by NASA has nothing to do with preserving cultural heritage but everything to do with weaseling out of expensive cleanup responsibilities,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the cleanup was supposed to have been completed by the end of 2017, but has yet to begin. “There no good reason why this designation couldn’t wait until after the cleanup was completed.”

The PEER comments also point out that the NASA nomination –

  • Falsely claims designation will keep “the area in a state similar to when [tribal] ancestors used and occupied the area.”
  • Omits that there are already protections for identified cave paintings and grinding stones but this plan would artificially increase by a factor of more than 200 the protected area’s size to precisely match the boundaries of the entire 2,850-acre Santa Susana site; and
  • Glosses over the formal opposition of Ventura County, a fact which, by law, should preclude designation.

“Failure to clean Santa Susana leaves surrounding communities at risk of toxic migration,” added Ruch, pointing out wildfires and other natural events can spread contaminants far offsite.  “Nuclear and chemical waste are not cultural artifacts we want preserved.”

###


Read the PEER comments

View the opaque Federal Register Notice

https://www.peer.org/nuclear-cleanup-scam-on-supremely-contaminated-site/

Santa Susana Field Laboratory: NASA releases draft supplemental environmental statement covering soil cleanup. Comments due Dec. 9

From the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

NOTE: The Federal Register notice does not give a due date for comments. It says the deadline is 45 days after the date of the Federal Register notice which was October 25. If you wish to submit comments, confirm the due date with NASA at the email address below.

Posted in the Federal Register
October 25, 2019

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/10/25/2019-23364/notice-of-availability-of-the-draft-supplemental-environmental-impact-statement-seis-for-soil

Click to access 2019-23364.pdf

Notice of Availability of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for Soil Cleanup Activities at Santa Susana Field Laboratory

AGENCY:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ACTION:

Notice of Availability of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to the March 2014 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for demolition and environmental cleanup activities for the NASA-administered portion of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), Ventura County, California. This SEIS will cover the soil cleanup activities at NASA’s portion of SSFL.

SUMMARY:

Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as amended, the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA, and NASA’s NEPA policy and procedures, NASA has prepared a Draft SEIS for soil cleanup activities at SSFL in Ventura County, California. The Draft SEIS has been prepared because there are significant new circumstances relevant to environmental concerns bearing on the proposed action and its impacts. Specifically, the estimated quantity of soil required to be removed has increased substantially since the publication of the 2014 FEIS. This increase has the potential to alter the environmental impacts that were evaluated in the 2014 FEIS. For this reason, NASA has determined it is appropriate to prepare a supplement to the 2014 FEIS.

DATES:

Interested parties are invited to submit comments, preferably in writing, within forty-five (45) calendar days from the date of publication in the Federal Register of the Notice of Availability of the Draft SEIS on October 25, 2019.

ADDRESSES:

Comments submitted by mail should be addressed to Peter Zorba, SSFL Project Director, 5800 Woolsey Canyon Road, Canoga Park, CA 91304. Comments may be submitted via email to msfc-ssfl-eis@mail.nasa.gov. The Draft SEIS may be reviewed at the following locations:

1. Simi Valley Library, 2969 Tapo Canyon Road, Simi Valley, CA 93063, Phone: (805) 526-1735.

2. Platt Library, 23600 Victory Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91367, Phone: (818) 340-9386.

3. California State University, Northridge Oviatt Library, 18111 Nordhoff Street, 2nd Floor, Room 265, Northridge, CA 91330, Phone: (818) 677-2285.

4. Department of Toxic Substances Control, 9211 Oakdale Avenue, Chatsworth, CA 91311, Phone: (818) 717-6521.

The Draft SEIS is also available on the internet at https://www.nasa.gov/​feature/​environmental-impact-statement-eis-for-demolition-and-environmental-cleanup-activities. The Federal Register Notice of Intent to prepare the Draft SEIS, issuedin the Federal Register on April 5, 2019, is also available on the internet at: https://ssfl.msfc.nasa.gov/​news#news20190405.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Peter Zorba, SSFL Project Director, by email at msfc-ssfl-information@mail.nasa.gov. Additional information about NASA’s SSFL site, the proposed soil cleanup activities, and the associated planning process and documentation (as available) may be found on the internet at https://ssfl.msfc.nasa.gov or on the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) website at https://www.dtsc.ca.gov/​SiteCleanup/​Santa_​Susana_​Field_​Lab/​.

For the full notice:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/10/25/2019-23364/notice-of-availability-of-the-draft-supplemental-environmental-impact-statement-seis-for-soil

— 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.