'The Woolsey fire that engulfed over 90,000 acres in California last weekend may have spread toxic and radioactive substances from a Superfund site, according to activists who believe authorities might be downplaying the risks.
The fire passed through the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL), a federal Superfund site in the Simi Hills that was the site of the worst nuclear meltdown in US history in 1959. While the California Department of Toxic Substances Control said there was no reason to be concerned of “any risks other than those normally present in a wildfire situation,” locals aren’t so sure, pointing out that the agency has dragged its feet in cleaning up toxic sites and accusing it of a possible cover-up.
Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles president Robert Dodge castigated the DTSC, pointing out that the site – now owned by Boeing – remains radioactive and polluted despite the agency’s promise to clean it up eight years ago. “These toxic materials are in SSFL’s soil and vegetation, and when it burns and becomes airborne in smoke and ash, there is real possibility of heightened exposure for area residents.”
The DTSC reassured residents that the SSFL facilities were not affected by the fire and claimed measurements of radiation and hazardous compounds from both the site and the surrounding communities were within normal levels, posing no danger other than that normally present in the aftermath of a wildfire. Thousands of people live within two miles of the site, which was originally developed to test rocket engines and conduct nuclear research in the 1940s.
NASA, which owns a small piece of the site, echoed the DTSC’s message in a press release, stating that the fire presented no risks beyond those normally associated with wildfires although its property experienced “significant fire damage” across all three “historic districts.”'
Read more: California Wildfire Rips Through Nuclear Waste Site, Fueling Concerns of Airborne Radioactive Toxins
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