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Fight Over Alleged Radioactive Waste Involves Kern County Landfills

Consumer Watchdog and other environmental groups have filed suit against Boeing and the California Department of Toxic Substance Control over what they claim is the illegal disposal of low-level radioactive waste from a retired Boeing facility in Ventura County.

The groups allege that the demolition of potentially contaminated buildings at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory near Simi Valley is a threat to public health, and a violation of the state’s environmental laws.

They claim that some of the debris may have been sent to recyclers and to disposal facilities that are not licensed to receive radioactive waste. They include the Clean Harbors toxic waste landfill in Buttonwillow, and the McKittrick Waste Landfill, both located in Kern County. 

In a written statement, the Department of Toxic Substance Control denied the allegations, saying that the demolition material does not pose a risk to public health or the environment, and that the parties involved completed all necessary environmental impact review.

For decades the lab in the Santa Susana Mountains was home to a rocket engine test site and nuclear research facility run by Rocketdyne, which was later acquired by Boeing. In 1959 the lab was the site of a meltdown involving an experimental sodium reactor, which some scientists say was “worse” than the Three Mile Island accident decades later.