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Helen Zukin
Helen Zukin
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Santa Susana Rocketdyne Facility Continues to Plague Surrounding Community

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Toxic exposures from Rocketdyne facility continue to cause concern. Radioactive release causes excess cancer deaths.

A scientific panel released its long awaited report on Thursday, concluding that the 1959 nuclear reactor meltdown at the Rocketdyne facility was responsible for hundreds of excess cancer deaths. For almost fifty years, the Rocketdyne Santa Susana Field Lab conducted its nuclear research and government contracts for both NASA and The Department of Energy in total secrecy. Only in the last decade have residents of the surrounding communities, such as Simi Valley, North Hills, Bell Canyon, Chatsworth and Moorpark, come to learn of the toxic substances which the Field Lab released into the ground, water and air.

As recent as two months ago, the Boeing Company, the current owner of the Rocketdyne facility, disclosed for the first time that napalm, dioxin, mercury and other highly toxic materials had been dumped in open-air burn pits. In August, the Department of Toxic Substances Control received 184 pages of documents from the Boeing Company which revealed that over the years the burn pits had been the dump site of hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic liquids and gases.

The residents of the surrounding communities have long speculated that the high cancer rates and other diseases which appear to plague the area could be the result of decades of toxic exposures emanating from the Rocketdyne facility. The report released on Thursday adds further concern as to what health effects may have resulted from Rocketdyne activities.

“What’s critical here is that people have been exposed here unwillingly and without their knowledge,” said Steven Wing, University of North Carolina associate professor of epidemiology and co-chairman of the Santa Susana Field Lab Advisory Panel, which commissioned the studies. “To reduce people’s anxiety we need more information. We need more forthcomingness.”

Kiesel Boucher Larson has detailed information regarding the Rocketdyne facility and has handled numerous Rocketdyne toxic exposure cases.