One of the biggest concerns that remains is whether chemical or radiological contamination has drifted off-site over time.
In late 2007, Boeing supplied the state regulators in charge of the cleanup, known as the Department of Toxic Substances Control, with a 199-page Offsite Data Evaluation Report, which explained the results of 60 years of “off-site media sampling and testing data for chemical and radiological contamination” that had been collected by Boeing, NASA and the Department of Energy within a 15-mile radius around the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.
Bizarrely, the report claims that during those 60 years, Runkle Canyon’s ground water and soil were never tested. But, in fact, at least one test was conducted, according to a 2007 report prepared for Boeing and obtained by the Weekly.
Signed under penalty of perjury by Thomas D. Gallacher, Boeing’s director of Environment, Health and Safety at the laboratory, the report also says that the area where most of the nuclear work was done — Area IV — does not border the adjacent Runkle Canyon. Yet the report has maps illustrating that picturesque Runkle Canyon does indeed border Area IV. One map also shows evidence of toxic trichloroethylene in the Runkle Canyon ground water.
Boeing, which bought the huge laboratory acreage in 1996, has not yet responded to L.A. Weekly’s questions about these issues.
The apparent discrepancies in the 2007 report trouble “Toxic Terry” Matheney, an aerospace worker who is a member of a Simi Valley activist group called the “Radiation Rangers,” which has fought the plans of Westwood-based developer KB Homes to build 465 homes in Runkle Canyon. The Rangers have successfully delayed development of the site since 2006.
In echoes of the controversy over Ahmanson Ranch, a now-abandoned plan to build 3,050 homes on open hills tucked between the western San Fernando Valley and the Simi Hills, critics say that Runkle Canyon is polluted with strontium-90, cesium-137, arsenic, chromium and the rocket fuel oxidizer perchlorate (see “Earthly Secrets,” June 12, 2002).
“Runkle Canyon is even more polluted than Ahmanson Ranch,” Matheney insists. He believes constructing a residential development in Runkle Canyon “will send up a radioactive dust cloud weighing more than 112 tons, which will blow over and fall out on the Simi and San Fernando valleys. This isn’t 1959, a time when the company and government could lie their way out of environmental crimes perpetrated against its workers and neighbors, not on our watch.”