For more than two decades, elected officials and community leaders concerned about the impact on the health of hundreds of thousands of County residents, have advocated for a full cleanup of the highly contaminated toxic chemical and radioactive waste site located at the former Santa Susana Field Lab near the western edge of the San Fernando Valley.
In 2007 and 2010, legally binding agreements were signed requiring full cleanup by 2017, but cleanup has been delayed by repeated attempts to delay and weaken the cleanup standards at the site. Five years after the required soil cleanup was scheduled to have been completed, it hasn’t even begun.
The LA County Board of Supervisors, recognizing that a long-awaited Program Environmental Impact Report to be released this summer may undermine the cleanup agreements, took the unprecedented step of directing LA County Counsel to work with other affected jurisdictions and nonprofits to explore potential legal action to ensure that the 2007 and 2010 agreements are carried out and a full cleanup is completed as soon as possible. The Board also directed the County’s legislative team to support legislation at the state and federal levels to assure a full “cleanup to background” of the contaminated areas as outlined in the 2007 and 2010 Consent Orders.
“Enough is enough,” said LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, author of the County motion and author of 2007 state legislation calling for site cleanup. “The cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Lab should have been finished five years ago. We’ve tolerated endless maneuvering and delays. Boeing, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency, and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control must make good on their legal obligation to clean up the site to background levels. Maybe they thought if they dragged this out we would back down or go away. But we will not back down. We will not accept further delays. Those responsible for creating this mess are going to have to clean it up.”