California Congressmembers Urge Dept. of Energy, NASA, CalEPA to Uphold Agreements for Full Cleanup of Meltdown Site

July 12, 2019 – Senator Dianne Feinstein and eight California Congressmembers sent a letter today to Dept. of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, NASA Administrator TIm Bridenstine, and CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld urging compliance with agreements to fully cleanup radiological and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL.) The letter was initiated by Congresswoman Julia Brownley and co-signed by Congressmembers Sherman, Hill, Cardenas, Schiff, Bass, Thompson, and Desaulnier. (Click here to read the letter.)

SSFL is a former nuclear and rocket-engine testing facility located in the hills above the Simi and San Fernando valleys. Decades of these operations, along with accidents and sloppy environmental practices, resulted in widespread contamination with dangerous radionuclides and toxic chemicals. Federally-funded studies indicate increased cancers among site workers, elevated cancer rates in the nearby community associated with proximity to SSFL, and that contamination migrates off of the site over EPA levels of concern

In 2010, the California Dept. of Toxic Substances Control signed agreements with the U.S. Dept. of Energy and NASA to fully clean up their parts of SSFL by 2017. The Boeing Company, which owns most of the site, is similarly bound by a 2007 Consent Order to have completed cleanup by 2017. However, the promised SSFL cleanup has not even begun, and parties responsible for the contamination are now pushing to violate their cleanup agreements and instead leave about 98% of the contamination not cleaned up. 

The Brownley et al letter states:

“We are deeply concerned that this required cleanup has not been completed and that the soil remediation has not even begun. Additionally, we are deeply concerned that DOE and NASA have publicly indicated that the agencies do not intend to comply with the longstanding SSFL clean-up agreement that DOE and NASA signed with the State of California. These agreements, which were supported by the state and the local community, were entered into in good faith and it is completely unacceptable that DOE and NASA are refusing to comply with these clean-up agreements.

We urge DOE and NASA to undertake all steps necessary to fully and expeditiously carry out those Orders and take no actions contrary to them. Further, we urge DTSC to take all necessary actions to enforce these cleanup agreements.”

Melissa Bumstead, a West Hills resident and co-founder of Parents vs. SSFL, was heartened by the letter. “The polluters at SSFL want to use weak recreational cleanup standards that are based on people being on the site for small amounts of time,” she said. “But we live here. Our kids go to school and play here, and if the site isn’t fully cleaned up, we remain at risk. I am thrilled to see such strong support for the 100% cleanup from our elected officials.”

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