An unwarranted precedent for radioactive cleanup

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 13, 2007 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

For the fifth year in a row, Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) has introduced a bill to impose more onerous cleanup standards on the Santa Susanna Field Laboratory (SSFL), a site that is in her district.   SB 990 would prohibit the sale, lease, sublease or transfer of any land at this site unless the Director of the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC), under the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal-EPA), certifies that it satisfies the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) agricultural land use standards. 

These standards are more appropriate for chemical than radiological contamination.  Also, U.S. EPA radioscope cleanup levels are not technically achievable for this combination of risk and land use.  The levels cannot be detected by laboratory or instrument and are less than the variability of background radionuclides in clean soil.

The site is already being remediated by The Boeing Company (the current owner) to standards that are lower than those required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).   NRC standards are appropriate, scientifically-based and have traditionally been used for virtually all cleanup and decommissioning of facilities where radioactive materials have been used. 

In contrast to the accusation that the site is the cause of increased cancer rates in the communities surrounding SSFL, the University of Michigan School of Public Health recently concluded: "We have no direct evidence that the associations we observed – even if they reflect differences among the three regions – necessarily reflect the effects of environmental exposures originating at SSFL."

In addition, DTSC has not been the agency within the State which handles radioactive health and safety.  The State’s expertise lies in the Department of Health and Human Services not DTSC.

This bill would create an unwarranted precedent that could later affect many other businesses and organizations that currently use radiological and chemical materials in the State, including hospitals, research facilities, utilities and military bases. 

CMTA is opposed to this bill.

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