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State says no toxic risk from Woolsey fire that burned old nuclear site in Simi Valley

The Woolsey Fire, an out-of-control wildfire that started in Ventura County and moved into Malibu, where it is consuming homes along the coastal community, began as a brush fire near the site of a partial nuclear meltdown at a laboratory in Simi Valley, officials said Friday.
This has raised concerns for some watchdog groups, neighbors and others who have called for a total cleanup of the site known as the Rocketdyne facility for many years. They worry the fire caused the spread of toxins into the air.
However, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control in Sacramento denied that the fire that burned through a portion of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory presented additional public health threats.

See related fire stories here

The laboratory is the site of a series of nuclear reactor accidents, including a partial meltdown in the 1959, and a place where tens of thousands of rocket engine tests took place using propellants that are known carcinogens.
“The fire agencies responding to the fire have consulted with their own hazardous materials coordinator who is familiar with the site and determined the fire did not present any risks other than those normally present in a wildfire situation,” said the DTSC in a written response.
The state toxics agency said it is “actively monitoring the fire” but that the fire was no longer burning at the Rocketdyne facility, as of Friday evening. The DTSC emergency response staff is in contact with Ventura County authorities.
“Our scientists and toxicologists have reviewed information about the fire’s location and do not believe the fire has caused any releases of hazardous materials that would pose a risk to people exposed to the smoke,” according to the DTSC.
West Hills resident Melissa Bumstead , whose daughter has survived two bouts with leukemia that she blames on the SSFL facility, said she doesn’t trust DTSC’s quick assessment.
“DTSC repeatedly minimizes risk from SSFL and has broken every promise it ever made about the SSFL cleanup. Communities throughout the state have also been failed by DTSC. The public has no confidence in this troubled agency,” said Bumstead in a written response.
Dr. Robert Dodge, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, is also concerned.
“We know what substances are on the site and how hazardous they are. We’re talking about incredibly dangerous radionuclides and toxic chemicals such a trichloroethylene, perchlorate, dioxins and heavy metals,” Dodge said in a prepared statement.
The state agency says it will check out the air monitoring equipment around the defunct lab as soon as fire department officials allow access.
“DTSC will continue to update the communities around the SSFL site as new information becomes available about the site and the impacts of the fire.”


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