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Environment & Science

NBC4's Joel Grover: How Boeing blocks cleanup of Simi Valley nuclear site




The view from Sage Ranch Park in the Simi Valley. The Santa Susana Field Lab is in the middle left.
The view from Sage Ranch Park in the Simi Valley. The Santa Susana Field Lab is in the middle left.
John Rabe

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This week, KPCC's Take Two talked with Joel Grover of our media partner NBC4 about his year-long investigation into the near meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Lab in 1959 ... and its continuing aftereffects.

Now, whistleblowers interviewed on camera by NBC4 have recounted how during and after that accident they were ordered to release dangerous radioactive gases into the air above Los Angeles and Ventura counties, often under cover of night, and how their bosses swore them to secrecy. -- NBC4 "LA's Nuclear Secret"

(NBC4's Joel Grover points to the Santa Susana Field Lab from a lookout point at Sage Ranch Park in Simi Valley. Credit: John Rabe)

For Off-Ramp, I went to the Simi Valley with Grover to explore another important aspect of the story: how -- as NBC4 reports -- current owner Boeing has blocked efforts to clean up the site.

The site, which was once run by Rocketdyne, is now owned by Boeing, one of the state's largest employers and a big contributor to state and national politicians, including campaign donations of $29,500 to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, $17,500 to Gov. Jerry Brown, $11,300 to Sen. Barbara Boxer and $4,000 to California Sen. Kevin De Leon, the current Senate President Pro Tempore and the Chairman of the Committee that confirmed Barbara Lee as Director of the DTSC. Even though Boeing didn't own the site when most of the nuclear and rocket testing took place, as current owner — by law — they would be responsible for millions of dollars in cleanup costs with some help from NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy, which also used parts of the site. -- -- NBC4 "LA's Nuclear Secret"

Listen to our interview in the audio player above, and get Boeing's full response, as well as 15,000 pages of documents obtained by NBC4, on the website for LA's Nuclear Secret.