2015-09-04 / Editorials

Feds are trying to break promise

For a quarter of a century, the community and our elected officials have insisted that studies of the potential health impacts of the radioactive and chemical contamination from the Santa Susana Field Lab had to be done by independent, credible scientific researchers. The federal government couldn’t be trusted to study whether its sloppy environmental practices had harmed people.

Then-U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and others pushed hard for the establishment of an independent oversight panel that hired a team from the UCLA school of public health to study the workers. They found significantly elevated death rates from key cancers associated with the workers’ exposures.

The elected then pushed for independent studies of the offsite community. The University of Michigan study found a 60 percent higher incidence of key cancers for people living near the site compared to those who live further away. A University of California team found that toxic materials had migrated from the site at levels in excess of limits considered acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Now, however, the federal government has broken its word to stay out and has accepted what it calls a “citizen’s” petition to revisit these findings. They have refused to release the name of the petitioner, which tells you they know it is in fact not legitimate. It turns out to have come from a former SSFL official, who works in concert with Boeing’s efforts to undo their cleanup obligations.

TheAgency for Toxic Substances Control and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has a terrible reputation of doing bad reviews to whitewash the government’s pollution. ATSDR says it will, per the request, revisit the past studies, even though it paid for and accepted them a decade ago. The petition also asks ATSDR to weigh in against the legally binding cleanup agreements the feds signed in 2010 to clean up all the contamination.

This is an outrage. The feds contaminated the site. They promised to clean it all up and now are trying to break their promises. ATSDR, go home. The public doesn’t trust you. Marie Mason Simi Valley

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