The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

70 Years of Poisoning in California

Apr 15, 2019

NASA said in March that it would not clean up a test site in Santa Susana, California as it had promised in 2010, because it would be “too expensive” to do so. Earlier, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which had also signed the 2010 agreement, had said that it could clean up only a small part of the contamination on the site.

DOE, NASA and a military contractor, Rocketdyne, used the 2900-acre Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) for tens of thousands of nuclear reactor and rocket engine tests from 1948 to 2006. Ignoring pollution and safety standards, they poisoned the soil, water and air at SSFL with very high levels of radioactive and toxic substances, even though the site is in the middle of an urban area: half a million people live within 10 miles of the SSFL. There was even a nuclear meltdown on the site in 1959, which came to light only when some university students accidentally found documents about it 20 years later!

For decades, residents who live near the SSFL have been trying to push authorities to act, as the contamination has continued to sicken and kill people. Through their own inquiries, families living in the area have found that within the last six years alone, at least 54 children in the community have been diagnosed with different types of cancer. But to this day, DOE, NASA and Boeing, which bought Rocketdyne in the 1990s, have done no clean-up. And California regulators have not only stood by, but tried to help cover it up. Last November, for example, when the massive Woolsey fire burned down 80 percent of the SSFL site, state agencies declared that no toxic materials from the site were made airborne and spread by the fire!

Outraged once again, residents have been trying to get the word out. An online petition demanding a complete clean-up of the SSFL, started by Melissa Bumstead, whose daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia at age four, has been signed by more than 600,000 people. These families have no choice but to push forward with their activism, because the only thing they can expect from the government and company officials is for them to allow the SSFL to continue to poison the population in the area and try to cover it up.