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2/10/14: Report from Meeting — From http://www.ssflworkgroup.org/
The meeting put on by SSFL Work Group drew a capacity audience in Simi Valley on February 5th. Presenters included independent experts, community representatives, and agencies responsible for cleaning up the nuclear and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (Rocketdyne.)
After an information-packed evening, community members expressed a strong desire for more opportunities to be heard and to hold agencies accountable to their clean up commitments. Thank you to everyone who helped make the evening a success and to all who attended. Your energy and enthusiasm have sparked a renewed determination that Rocketdyne will be cleaned up to the letter of the law.
They will be posting meeting presentations, photos, and video from the meeting on their website in the next few days. Sign up for their mailing list to learn about upcoming opportunities to become involved in ensuring a thorough SSFL cleanup. Your voice will be heard.
Health Reports on the Area
History of Santa Susana Field Laboratory
*little did we know there were nuclear accidents right here in the Los Angeles area in Simi Valley.
Throughout the years, approximately ten low-power nuclear reactors operated at SSFL, in addition to several “critical facilities”: a sodium burn pit in which sodium-coated objects were burned in an open pit; a plutonium fuel fabrication facility; a uranium carbide fuel fabrication facility; and the purportedly largest “Hot Lab” facility in the United States at the time. A Hot Lab is a facility used for remotely cutting up irradiated nuclear fuel. Irradiated nuclear fuel from other Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and Department of Energy (DOE) facilities from around the country were shipped to SSFL to be decladded and examined.
The Hot Lab suffered a number of fires involving radioactive materials. For example, in 1957, a fire in the Hot Cell “got out of control and … massive contamination” resulted. (see: NAA-SR-1941, Sodium Graphite Reactor, Quarterly Progress Report, January–March 1957). In July, 1959, the site suffered a partial nuclear meltdown that has been named “the worst in U.S. history”, releasing an undisclosed amount of radiation, but thought to be much more than the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979. Another radioactive fire occurred in 1971, involving combustible primary reactor coolant (NaK) contaminated with mixed fission products.
At least four of the ten nuclear reactors suffered accidents. The AE6 reactor experienced a release of fission gases in March 1959, the SRE experienced a power excursion and partial meltdown in July 1959; the SNAP8ER in 1964 experienced damage to 80% of its fuel; and the SNAP8DR in 1969 experienced similar damage to one-third of its fuel.
The reactors located on the grounds of SSFL were considered experimental, and therefore had no containment structures. Reactors and highly radioactive components were housed without the large concrete domes that surround modern power reactors.