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Santa Susana Meltdown

July 13, 2009 |  1:00 pm


Reactor opens, July 16, 1957, in the Daily Mirror.
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Times reporter Louis Sahagun takes a look at the July 14, 1959, meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Lab:

On the morning of July 14, 1959, Sodium Reactor Experiment trainee John Pace received the bad news from a group of supervisors who had, he recalled, "terribly worried expressions on their faces."

A reactor at the Atomics International field laboratory in the Santa Susana Mountains had experienced a power surge the night before and spewed radioactive gases into the atmosphere.

"They were terrified that some of the gas had blown over their own San Fernando Valley homes," recalled Pace, who was 20 at the time. "My job was to keep radiation out of the control room."
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