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Santa Susana nuclear facility to be cleaned up by 2017, agencies agree

December 6, 2010 |  8:15 pm

State and federal agencies agreed Monday to clean up a former nuclear research facility in eastern Ventura County by 2017.

For decades, community activists and the state Environmental Protection Agency have urged officials to clean up the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a 2,850-acre facility once used to test and develop rocket engines and nuclear reactors.  In 1959, a reactor at the facility suffered a partial nuclear meltdown, and some area residents have since complained of health problems. 

The agreement signed by officials from NASA, the state Dept. of Toxic Substances and the federal Department of Energy paved the way for what will be an intense cleanup to include hauling contaminated soil to licensed waste dumps as far away as Utah.

According to a 2006 study, radioactive emissions from the earlier meltdown could have resulted in up to 1,800 cases of cancer within 62 miles of the site over a “period of many decades.”

That study was discredited by Boeing, who now owns the facility along with NASA. Boeing did not sign the agreement, and the cleanup will not include its facilities.

"We hope we can reach a similar agreement with Boeing and that our continued negotiations bear fruit as they did with DOE and NASA," Linda Adams of the California Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement.

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-- Corina Knoll and Louis Sahagun

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