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of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory

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The Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) is a 2,850 acre site located in Ventura County, California, approximately 2 miles south of the City of Simi Valley. The site is divided into four areas which are under different ownership. Boeing owns Areas I, III and IV. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the owner of Area II and owns 42 acres of Area I. Since 1948, the principal activities in Areas I, II, and III of the SSFL have been large rocket engine research, assembly, and testing by Rocketdyne and NASA. From 1956 to 1988, the Energy Technology and Engineering Center (ETEC), which is located in Area IV was used by Rocketdyne and the Department of Energy (DOE) for nuclear energy research and development.

These site operations resulted in soil and groundwater contamination. Primary chemical contaminants include trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), metals, and petroleum hydrocarbons. Cleanup actions of chemical contamination is being conducted by DOE, Boeing and NASA under the direction and oversight of the State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). DTSC is using the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as its regulatory authority. The extent of chemical contamination has not been fully characterized, but it is estimated that more than 500,000 gallons of TCE is beneath the Site.


Radionuclides associated with ETEC nuclear operations include tritium, plutonium-238, plutonium-239, iodine-131, strontium-90, cesium-137, cobalt-60, thorium-228, and uranium-235. Decommission and demolition of ETEC buildings has been conducted by DOE pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act. DOE is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).


The 2008 Federal Appropriations Law (HR2764) directed DOE to use a portion of DOE funding for the SSFL site to enter into an interagency agreement (IAG) with the EPA to conduct a joint comprehensive radioactive site characterization of Area IV of the SSFL in accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). In July 2008, an IAG was signed whereby DOE gave EPA $1.5 million to:


Conduct a background radiological study for the SSFL site and,

Develop a preliminary scope of work (“SOW”), including a schedule and cost estimate, for a comprehensive radiological study of Area IV and adjacent buffer zone (hereafter referred to as the “Area IV SOW”).


EPA is the lead agency for the background radiological study and this study currently is scheduled to be completed in late 2009. The EPA Area IV SOW was released in December 2008 (see Documents and Reports section of this website to download and view this document). EPA’s Area IV SOW can serve as an outline for a work plan for an Area IV radiological study. To date, EPA has not been provided funding to prepare the work plan or conduct the radiological study itself. The work plan would include specific sampling locations, number of samples to be collected, procedures to be followed during sample collection and analysis, equipment to be used, laboratory detection limits, and a process for how data will be evaluated.


It should also be noted that in November 2007, EPA issued a CERCLA Preliminary Assessment/Site Investigation (PA/SI). In December 2007, EPA sent a letter to the State of California requesting its position on proposed listing of the site on the National Priorities List (NPL). In January 2008, the State requested a 6-month deferral so that negotiations could continue with Boeing for cleanup of the site. EPA concurred with the State’s request for a listing deferral. On July 11, 2008, the State requested an additional 6-month deferral to continue negotiations with Boeing.

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