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Water Board: Boeing must meet stringent cleanup standards at Santa Susana Field Lab site

CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Aug. 12 AM Edition)
CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Aug. 12 AM Edition) 02:27

The Boeing Company will be required to prove stormwater runoff is no longer polluted and human health and the environment is no longer at risk after completing cleanup at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in southeastern Ventura County, according to a memorandum of understanding unanimously approved by the Los Angeles Regional Water Control Board.

The former field laboratory, which spans 2,850 acres about 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles, was once the site of research, development and testing of rocket engines, small-scale nuclear reactors and chemical lasers. All industrial activity at the site ended in 2006, but radionuclides and other contaminants remained in the soil.

"The MOU requires that, unless and until the soil cleanup is good enough to prevent pollution of stormwater by past industrial activities, Boeing will remain subject to the regional board's regulatory oversight" under an existing permit, according to James Stahl, acting chair of the Los Angeles Water Board.

The memorandum, or MOU, is part of the strict protocols and timelines set forth by the Los Angeles Water Board and the Department of Toxic Substances Control, two agencies within the Cal EPA, for Boeing's cleanup of the site. The preconditions in the MOU exceed those generally required to terminate industrial stormwater permits, and Boeing has agreed not to challenge these additional requirements in the future.

Cleanup at the former field laboratory has been stalled for years due to litigation and disputes over cleanup standards. A group of Simi Valley mothers who live near the site have alleged an uptick of childhood cancer diagnoses in their communities, and there has been concern in recent years over the impact of wildfires, such as the Woolsey Fire, on the site and the potential for spreading contaminants.

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