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Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site

Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site

Photo Source NASA MODIS (TERRA Satellite) | CC BY 2.0

“A common denominator, in every single nuclear accident … is that before the specialists even know what has happened, they rush to the media saying, ‘There’s no danger to the public.’ They do this before they themselves know what has happened…”

— Jacque Cousteau

The Woolsey fire in California began Nov. 8 near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), site of a partial reactor meltdown, the consequences of which have never been cleaned up. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control released a statement early Nov. 9 saying its scientists “don’t believe that the fire has caused any releases of hazardous materials that would pose a risk to people exposed to the smoke.”

The fire’s progress through to Oak Park indicates that much of the toxic site burned, according to the Los Angeles chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility which has investigated SSFL radiation risks for 30 years.

Use of the phrase “don’t believe” [the fire caused risk] by the Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) had to stand in for a clear denial of radiation risk because none of the site’s air monitors had yet been seen by the department. The following words of DTSC’s Nov. 9 announcement were: “There is an air monitoring network around the perimeter of the SSFL site. As soon as access is open we will evaluate the air monitoring stations.” The department seemed to be reading from a script identified by the oceanographer Jacque Cousteau who said, “…before specialists even know what has happened, they rush to the media saying, ‘There’s no danger to the public.’”

The dodgy DTSC language caused outrage and alarm among watchdog groups concerned with cleanup of the SSFL site. University of California-Los Angeles climate scientist and distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Glen MacDonald, told Democracy Now, Nov. 13: “I would want to see … some monitoring of what was kicked up.”

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