Over 200 People Petition to Bring Back the SSFL Interagency Workgroup*

SSFL Interagency Workgroup meeting

*UPDATE 1-29-14 – Community efforts successfully revive SSFL Work Group! Next meeting February 5, 2014. Click here to learn more.

*UPDATE 9-24-12 – DTSC kills Work Group, approves CAG. Community members and advocates express betrayal in a letter to Raphael.

A petition to bring back the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) Interagency workgroup has been signed by over 200 people.

The petition to DTSC Director Debbie Raphael, EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez, and Governor Jerry Brown requests that DTSC reinstate the Workgroup, which has served the community, elected officials, and media for over 20 years. The petition also opposes a Community Advisory Group (CAG) as an alternative.

The petition states:

We are requesting that the California department responsible for the cleanup of the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory reinstate the SSFL Inter-Agency Work Group which had been meeting quarterly since 1990. For almost a year, the new leadership at the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has cancelled the quarterly Work Group meetings. During the same period, critical developments regarding the cleanup, including important findings of contamination by US EPA and matters affecting the cleanup agreements, have occurred but there has been no Work Group meeting for the public to learn about them.

For twenty-two years, the SSFL Inter-Agency Work Group has been the primary source for the public, elected officials and their staffs, and the media, to be updated in a format that provides useful information to community members, many of whom are new to the situation. It also provides a needed mechanism for coordination between the various agencies involved in the cleanup in a public setting.

We recognize that there are a couple of meetings a week on narrow technical issues in which only a handful of the same community members attend. We also recognize that DTSC had established a Public Participation Group, which is primarily a discussion session for often the same handful of community members. Neither type of meeting is remotely appropriate for community members new to the situation seeking to be educated about the contamination and its cleanup, nor for people such as electeds’ staffs and the news media trying to be kept updated on a periodic basis—which is precisely the function that the Work Group has performed so well for more than two decades and upon which people depended.

Since 1990 the Department of Toxics Substances Control has strongly supported the Work Group. Two years ago, a petition to create a Community Advisory Group (CAG) as an alternative to the Work Group was strongly opposed by a significant number of people in the community and DTSC rejected it. A CAG is a discussion session to review and comment on DTSC response plans and is not an appropriate format for informing the general public in a clear and useful fashion about important developments involving the various agencies. That is the service that the SSFL Inter-Agency Work Group has so long provided.

We urge DTSC to not reverse its longstanding positions supporting the Work Group and opposing a CAG as a substitute. Reinstate the Work Group.

After the petition was launched, the Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition was dismayed to learn that DTSC had begun the process of approving a CAG petition, which has four times fewer names than the Work Group petition, especially since almost half of names on the smaller petition are not from the local community and some do not even list their last names.

Chapter 6.8, Section 25358.7.1 of the Health and Safety Code states that CAG petitioners be “members of a community affected by the response action at a site.”

Attorney Larry Silver from California Environmental Law Project submitted a letter to DTSC, informing DTSC that the CAG petition doesn’t comply with the CAG statute and is invalid.

DTSC has not yet formally responded to Silver’s letter or the Workgroup petition.

Click here to sign the Bring Back the Work Group petition.

SSFL Interagency Workgroup meeting

People interacting with SSFL Workgroup panel

SSFL Workgroup meeting with public comment

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