Officials aim to gain trust on lab cleanup

first_imgNearly two decades after neighbors learned the hilltop Santa Susana Field Lab was rife with toxic and radioactive contamination, the long-delayed cleanup is at a critical crossroads. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is now considering signing a bill that would force Boeing and the federal government to clean up the former nuclear and rocket-engine test lab to the highest environmental standards. Under judge’s orders, the federal Department of Energy is about to begin a new study of the radioactive and chemical contamination at its former nuclear research facility. And the state agency responsible for controlling toxic contamination at the site recently appointed a new project manager who has pledged unprecedented openness with the public and scrutiny of the cleanup. Located in the hills above Simi Valley and Chatsworth, the Santa Susana Field Lab was developed in the late 1940s for rocket-engine tests and nuclear-energy research. The Department of Energy cleanup of its 90-acre portion of the lab is nearly complete, but Boeing is at least a decade from decontaminating the rest of the site, tainted with chemicals from rocket-engine and laser projects. The management shuffle in the state Department of Toxic Substances Control came after a disastrous public hearing last August, when high-ranking officials admitted the DTSC had made a mistake in allowing Boeing to truck out – unstudied – thousands of tons of contaminated soil from a burn pit where workers had incinerated hazardous waste for decades. Activists found old records documenting waste disposal in the burn pit, and DTSC’s ignorance of the pit’s potential contamination was the final straw for neighbors. “We don’t have belief or trust in your process,” RocketdyneWatch founder Elizabeth Crawford railed at DTSC during the hearing. Riley said the meeting was a wake-up call for the agency. “It was embarrassing. I don’t ever want to see the department and the public placed in a position like that ever again,” he said. Since Riley was appointed about five months ago, he and a team of experts have held several meetings with activists to hash out reports and review concerns. “I almost feel like it’s a new agency,” longtime activist Christina Walsh said of the DTSC. “I think we can make tremendous progress now.” Walsh said the agency now seems to be taking her concerns seriously. Earlier this year, she and some colleagues from the were hiking in the regional park next to the field lab when they saw some foamlike material half-buried in a creek bed. Poking around in the soil, they found pipes and more of the same material embedded in the bank. Walsh didn’t know what the junk was – or whether it posed a risk – but she was pretty sure she knew where it came from: the field lab. Walsh and her colleagues had found suspicious junk in the hills around the field lab before, but calls to environmental regulators were usually met with skepticism or exasperation. But this time, Walsh said she found an eager ear at the DTSC. “I was expecting them to refuse to look at it. I really did anticipate a hostile response,” Walsh said. “We invited them on a hike and they showed up! They showed up seriously, with geologists.” Geologists ordered the area tested and fenced off. They found the material was a type of insulation that contained asbestos – not imminently dangerous, but not the kind of stuff you want Boy Scouts traipsing through either. It came from the liquid-oxygen plant at the field lab. “The stuff was there, and it clearly came from Boeing and NASA’s operations, and they have accepted responsibility, and they’re going to be moving it,” Riley said. “Our commitment to (the community) is we will investigate all of these concerns. We don’t have the resources to do so immediately in each and every case, but we aren’t forgetting about these things.” [email protected] (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “Our approach to the project has changed,” said Norman Riley, project manager for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control since April. “We have some new people involved and a renewed commitment to transparency about our involvement and efforts on the project.” To ensure that happens, the state agency signed a new consent order last month, setting a 2017 deadline for Boeing, the federal Department of Energy and NASA to complete the site cleanup. The order also establishes timelines, and it levies $15,000-a-day fines for delays and inaccuracies in reports detailing the location and extent of contamination. Boeing officials said they’re committed to working with the state to decontaminate the land. “There are a lot of developments taking place right now,” said Dan Beck, spokesman for Boeing. “We just want to make sure the go-forward plans with regulatory agencies are crafted appropriately and enable us to move forward with the cleanup.” last_img read more


first_imgBREAKING NEWS: DONEGAL boxer Jason Quigley has done it – he has taken gold in the European Boxing Championships in Minsk, Belarus, today.The 22-year-old Ballybofey man took his place on the Donegal’s all-time sporting roll of honour with a tremendous performance.After beating the world champion in the semi-final, Jason beat Romanian Bogdan Juratoni, the No2 seed, in today’s incredible final of the 75kg middleweight division. The Finn Valley man shed tears of joy as he realised his dream of taking a European Senior Amateur Boxing title.It was a nerve-jangling power-punching contest.In the first round Jason danced around the ring, picking off his opponent with some nice punches, absorbing hits from the Romanian in the round, but winning the first round with the judges.Juratoni came out fighting in the second, but Jason settled again and picked off his opponent with some great combinations. The fight was much closer – with most of the judges tied on the second round. Jason was definitely tired in the last round; he was on the ground twice, falling over through tiredness.But he held on to win – with the judges going for the Irish man.The whole of Donegal was tuned in to the fight live on RTE2 – with celebrations in the Twin Towns.Olympic silver medalist Ken Egan paid tribute to Quigley.“He has always been knocking on the door and this is a tremendous tribute to Jason and what he has done,” said Egan. “There’s no reason now why he can’t go on and do Ireland proud at the world championships. He’s a lovely guy; good and down to earth and decent man and he deserves everything he gets because of all the work he puts in.”Earlier John Joe Nevin was crowned European Champion.The Cavan BC bantamweight, the No. 1 seed in the Belarusian capital, outclassed Ukrainian southpaw Mykola Butsenko to earn a unanimous decision (30-27,29-28,29-28) at the Palace of Sports.Paddy Barnes won silver having been forced to withdraw from the final with a broken nose. And fellow Belfast man Michael Conlan took silver after being beaten on a split decision.It is a glorious day for Irish boxing and a glorious day for Irish sport.HE’S DONE IT! GOLDEN BOY JASON QUIGLEY CROWNED EUROPEAN BOXING CHAMPION was last modified: June 9th, 2013 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:BallybofeyHE’S DONE IT! GOLDEN BOY JASON QUIGLEY CROWNED EUROPEAN BOXING CHAMPIONJason Quigleylast_img read more