SACRAMENTO, November 6, 2020 – DTSC is requiring the U.S. Department of Energy to remove its final eight contaminated buildings at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a former nuclear research and rocket engine test facility in Ventura County. Removal of these deteriorating buildings will avoid a release of hazardous substances and minimize risk to the public and environment in the event of a fire followed by heavy rain.
On May 19, 2020, DTSC and DOE signed an Order on Consent for Interim Response Action to remove 10 buildings at the Radioactive Materials Handling Facility (RMHF) Complex at SSFL. The Amendment to the Order requires the demolition and disposal of eight additional DOE buildings within Area IV, comprising 290 acres in the western portion of the site. Two of the eight buildings are within the Hazardous Waste Management Facility, which was permitted in 1993 for the operation of liquid metal storage and treatment.
“Public safety is our top priority at each stage of the demolition and debris removal process. We continue to follow the safeguards outlined in the 2010 Administrative Order on Consent that protect the health and safety of nearby communities,” DTSC Director Meredith Williams said. “Significant progress has been made since work began under the May order, and today’s action marks the next phase of a long-awaited cleanup in an area vulnerable to wildfires.”
All demolition and removal of the building debris will be done under the requirements that govern the cleanup of the site, and the debris will be transported out of state to an appropriate facility.
The amendment to the initial order remains consistent with Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-05-19, seeking to prevent and mitigate damage from wildfires. In the event of a fire followed by heavy rain, the deteriorating buildings have the potential to release contamination that could migrate off site. This interim action will remove the aboveground portions of the buildings.
Contamination within the Hazardous Waste Management Facility and at the locations of the six other buildings includes radionuclides, heavy metals, solvents, oils and greases, lead-based paint and asbestos-containing materials. The facility is located within the former Energy Technology Engineering Center at SSFL. The remaining six DOE buildings within Area IV supported various testing and research activities at ETEC.
DOE is one of three responsible parties for the cleanup at SSFL, with Boeing owning most of the site and NASA also owning a portion.
The mission of DTSC is to protect California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated properties, enforcing hazardous waste law, reducing hazardous waste generation, and encouraging the manufacture of chemically safer products.