2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 10 Dec 2003 21:28:23 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Rocketdyne Cleanup Levels Challenges (2 stories)
Field Lab Cleanup Criticized

EPA says the standards at the Rocketdyne site near Simi Valley don't
meet U.S. criteria.

By Gregory W. Griggs
Los Angeles Times
December 10, 2003

Ongoing cleanup operations at Rocketdyne's Santa Susana Field Laboratory
are inconsistent with federal environmental regulations, and leave too
much radioactivity behind to allow future development at the site or
even unrestricted recreational uses, according to Environmental
Protection Agency officials. 

Cleanup standards at the former nuclear research facility near Simi
Valley do not meet federal criteria because they are based strictly on
radioactive levels, rather than the cancer risk they pose, according to
a Dec. 5 letter from the agency's waste management division addressed to
Henry DeGraca, an official with the Department of Energy's regional
office in Oakland. 

"EPA does not currently believe that cleanup at [Rocketdyne] will
satisfy standards for unrestricted land use," Arlene Kabei, associate
director of waste management, wrote in the 11-page letter to DeGraca.

The EPA was asked by neighbors of the lab site and elected officials to
independently evaluate the DOE's radiological cleanup. But the agency
has no jurisdictional power over the ongoing cleanup operations and
announced last week it would scale back its oversight after more than a
dozen years. 

DOE officials have maintained that the lab site, where DOE-commissioned
nuclear research was conducted for four decades beginning in the early
1950s, would pose no significant threat to human health or the
environment once the multimillion-dollar cleanup is completed in 2007. 

Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) fired off a letter Tuesday
asking recently appointed EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt to explain
why the two agencies can't reach a mutually acceptable cleanup standard
to ensure public safety.

"I am amazed, as are my constituents, that two federal agencies have
failed to agree on the best course of action and that commitments
repeatedly made over the years are being abandoned," Gallegly wrote.

The energy agency announced in April that it would only clean the site
to minimum EPA standards, effectively removing about 5,500 cubic meters
of contaminated soil, or less than 2%, instead of the nearly 405,000
cubic meters that exist. Once cleared for unrestricted use, critics say,
the 2,800-acre property could potentially be used for homes, schools or
day-care facilities.


for the entire story, see


see also 

EPA faults DOE cleanup at field lab

By Kerry Cavanaugh
Los Angeles Daily News
December 10, 2003

Monday, December 08, 2003 - The Department of Energy has failed to
fulfill its promise to meet stringent standards in cleaning up the
former nuclear research site at the Santa Susana Field Lab, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency said in a letter released Monday.

The DOE's final cleanup plan does not aim for a 1-in-a-million cancer
risk as required by federal standards, despite a commitment to the
community to do so, EPA Waste Management Division Associate Director
Arlene Kabei wrote in a letter. In addition, the 290-acre portion of the
Boeing lab in the Simi Hills would not be safe for future residential use.

While Kabei could not be reached for comment, neighbors of the field
laboratory said her letter clearly pointed out the difference between
what the EPA is expecting and what the DOE is willing to do.

"This is a fundamental line in the sand, with the federal environmental
agency saying this site isn't safe to release," said Dan Hirsch, a
nuclear watchdog who sits on the work group overseeing the cleanup.
"This really puts the ball in the lap of legislators to force resolution
of the two."

Despite Kabei's concerns, DOE officials repeated earlier statements that
they are meeting stringent cleanup requirements at the former nuclear
research lab, saying the decontamination plan does meet EPA standards
and is fully protective of human health and the environmental.


For the entire story, see


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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