Consumer Group Says Boeing Illegally Disposed of Radioactive Waste

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The nonprofit Consumer Watchdog group Monday accused the state of allowing Boeing to demolish radiation-contaminated structures at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and dispose of the debris at sites not licensed to receive radioactive waste.

The group said it uncovered the practice at the field lab in the hills outside Simi Valley, the site of a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959.

“The state is doing the opposite of protecting the public,” the group’s Liza Tucker said in a news release. “It’s helping to expose the public to radioactive contamination. It’s inconceivable.”

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control, the lead regulatory agency overseeing the investigation and planned cleanup of the site, said Monday it was reviewing the letter from Consumer Watchdog and will respond to it after it finished a review of it.

Boeing spokeswoman Kamara Sams said the company “continues to work cooperatively with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and other state and federal agencies to ensure that decommissioned material from former radiological facilities, which has been released for unrestricted use, is disposed of safely in full compliance with the law.”

But Consumer Watchdog said contaminated debris from six structures on-site has been delivered to municipal and hazardous-waste landfills not licensed to accept low-level radioactive waste, and to metal, asphalt and concrete recyclers.

The sites were not identified.

Consumer Watchdog will take legal action unless the practice halts within 24 hours, Tucker said.

Four groups joined in Consumer Watchdog’s demand: the Center on Race, Poverty & and the Environment; Committee to Bridge the Gap; Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles; and the Southern California Federation of Scientists.

Boeing owns most of the 2,850-acre site, formerly the Rocketdyne nuclear and rocket engine test facility.

The rest of the property is owned by the federal government and administered by NASA.

Boeing officials say the soil cleanup is expected to begin in late 2015 or early 2016 and be completed by the end of June 2017.

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