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California disapproves of Federal Dept of Energy’s plan for cleaning up radioactive Santa Susana Field Lab

SSFL impasse – State disapproves of DOE’s final environmental study , Simi Valley Acorn,    State officials overseeing the cleanup at the Santa Susana Field Lab are criticizing a federal agency’s proposal to address contamination on its portion of the former rocket engine testing site.  On Jan. 28, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control issued a letter accusing the U.S. Department of Energy of reneging on a 2010 cleanup agreement promising to remove all contamination in its part of the 2,850-acre field lab.

SSFL was used for 50 years in the development of ballistic missiles, rockets and space shuttle equipment. A partial nuclear meltdown occurred in Area IV in 1959, but it wasn’t made public until decades later. The DOE is responsible for removing soil and groundwater contamination in Area IV and the northern buffer zone.

“DOE ignores that its preferred alternative is inconsistent with the (agreement which) clearly defines DOE’s obligation to clean up soils in Area IV to background levels, or reporting limits if no background value exists, on a point-by-point basis,” DTSC officials said in the letter.

The state agency said it intends to hold the U.S. Department of Energy accountable to the requirements of the previous agreement, which involves a more thorough cleanup of the property.

The letter also requested that DOE extend the 30-day comment period, which closed at the end of January, through March 1 to allow more “meaningful public participation and opportunity for comment.”

The letter is in response to the Department of Energy’s final environmental study, which was released Dec. 18.

In the study, the federal agency called for the removal of the remaining buildings in Area IV—a radioactive materials handling facility and a hazardous waste management facility—and recommended a combination of treatment and monitoring to deal with the groundwater. It also proposed a “risk-based” soil cleanup plan, in which any contaminant found is removed. Environmentalists have argued in favor of removing much more soil………..

Five activist groups lobbying for complete site remediation, meaning they want to see the property restored to what it was before SSFL was built, voiced their objections the same day DTSC issued its letter.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Southern California Federation of Scientists, Committee to Bridge the Gap, and the Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition all sent letters Jan. 28 accusing the DOE of breaching the legally binding 2010 agreement and violating fundamental environmental laws.

Denise Duffield, spokesperson for Physicians for Social Responsibility, told the Simi Valley Acorn this week that the DOE’s final study is an “unconscionable breach of its commitment to clean up all of its contamination at SSFL.”

DOE, Duffield asserts, wants to leave behind 98 percent of contamination and just “walk away from remediating much of the contaminated groundwater.”

“Polluters do not get to decide how much of their contamination they get to clean up,” she said. “Also, the (study) fails to take into account the devastating Woolsey fire, which started at and burned much of the contaminated SSFL in November.”

Duffield said her group wants local, state and federal officials to lean on the DOE to revise its final study……..
Once DOE issues its record of decision, Jones said, it still has to wait for DTSC to release its final EIR.

February 9, 2019 - Posted by | safety, USA

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