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

50 Years of Radioactive Contamination

Jul 20, 2009

On July 14, 1959, a nuclear reactor near Chatsworth, California began to leak radioactive gases after a near meltdown. The site, operated by North American Rockwell, was carrying out nuclear research for the federal government.

Both company and government officials hid the leak from the public. About five weeks after the incident, the Atomic Energy Commission said in a press release that there was no evidence of radioactive leaks or unsafe conditions.

It was not until 1979, 20 years later, that a group of UCLA students discovered evidence documenting the meltdown. Finally, a study released in 2006 concluded that the 1959 accident could have resulted in 260 to 1,800 cases of cancer within 62 miles of the site.

There is little doubt that the air and soil around the facility have been contaminated not only by the accident but by decades of nuclear and rocket testing. But the companies involved, Rockwell and the site’s current owner, Boeing, have never cleaned up the area completely. Nor has the government fully acknowledged the problem. Now under court order, the Department of Energy says it is still preparing an environmental study on the site so that a clean-up can begin!

People who have lived in the area don’t need studies to know about the contamination. They know it from the ailments that they themselves, as well as thousands of relatives and neighbors, have had to live with.

The government’s war-making machine has been deadly at home also.