Residents Accuse NASA of Reneging on Agreement to Clean up Toxic Mess at California Rocket Test Site

Santa Susana Field Laboratory in California.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is planning to spend tens of billions of dollars returning astronauts to the moon and searching for life on Mars and other worlds, but when it comes to cleaning up a toxic mess it created here on Earth, the space agency says it just can’t afford it.

NASA has finalized a plan to conduct the least extensive and least costly cleanup of contaminated soil and water at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) in southern California. The space agency tested rocket engines there for decades before closing the facility in 2006.

The decision, which NASA announced in the Federal Register on Friday, has angered local residents who say the space agency is reneging on its commitment to do a full cleanup of the heavily polluted site in Ventura County. They fear toxins left in the soil will leach into local groundwater and endanger the health of residents.

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Environmental Groups Denounce NASA Decision on California Test Site Cleanup

Santa Susana Field Laboratory in 2005.

Trump Administration Announces It Is Breaking Santa Susana Field Laboratory Cleanup Agreement

Press Release
Oct. 2, 2020

Committee to Bridge the Gap
Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles
Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab
Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition 

The Trump Administration today issued its Record of Decision (ROD) regarding the cleanup of contamination on NASA’s portion of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL.) The decision is to violate a legally binding 2010 federal-state agreement that required returning the site to the condition it was in before being polluted. Instead, NASA now plans to walk away from cleaning up the great majority of the contamination, leaving it to continue to migrate offsite. Half a million people live within ten miles of the site.

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