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Consumer Watchdog Files Suit To Halt Demolition, Debris Removal At Santa Susana Field Lab

SIMI VALLEY ( — Once a cutting edge research and development center, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in the hills above Simi Valley long ago became a contaminated, radioactive source of great concern.

But cleanup of the site by Boeing Co., under the supervision of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), has now become the target of a lawsuit by the Consumer Watchdog group, which alleges that radioactive debris from the site is being deposited into landfills and recycling facilities that are neither licensed nor equipped to handle such material.

"They're taking it off-site and they're doing it in such a way that they're depositing it into places like municipal landfills or giving it to recyclers which means that people could end up being exposed to this if it's not contained properly," Liza Tucker of the Consumer Watchdog told CBS2's Dave Bryan.

The group says they're seeking an injunction to halt the demolition and removal work at the site, pending the outcome of a trial on the issue.

"We filed the lawsuit because we want to make sure that no more demolition takes place with any of the structures in the nuclear area of the facility grounds and no more moves off-site and that no more goes to facilities that are not licensed or equipped to contain radioactive contamination," according to Tucker.

However, DTSC denies the allegations, stating that, "none of the building material demolished and disposed of under DTSC's oversight poses a risk to public health or the environment. In addition, none of the cleanup activities has occurred without required review of the environmental impacts."

But Holly Huff and Dawn Kowalski, both active in the cleanup coalition, say the EPA has been pushed out of an oversight role in favor of the DTSC, which they allege has dropped the ball.

"When the studies were done on what was polluted and how much pollution there was, it was to go to the EPA and they were to determine where it were to go and how much there was, and they're not involved anymore. They got rid of the EPA," said Huff.

The DTSC contends that the EPA remains involved in overseeing the process as is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the California Public Health Department.

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