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Author Topic: Santa Susana Field Laboratory  (Read 1436 times)

Offline zorgon

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Santa Susana Field Laboratory
« on: July 24, 2015, 12:40:52 PM »
Santa Susana Field Laboratory

Only heard about this one today...


Aerial view of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in the Simi Hills, with the San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Mountains beyond to the east. The Energy Technology Engineering Center site is in the flat Area IV at the lower left, with the Rocket Test Field Laboratory sites in the hills at the center. (Spring 2005).

Quote
The Santa Susana Field Laboratory is a complex of industrial research and development facilities located on a 2,668-acre (1,080 ha) portion of the Southern California Simi Hills in Simi Valley, California, used mainly for the testing and development of liquid-propellant rocket engines for the United States space program from 1949 to 2006, nuclear reactors from 1953 to 1980 and the operation of a U.S. government-sponsored liquid metals research center from 1966 to 1998.The site is located approximately 7 miles (11 km) northwest from the community of Canoga Park and approximately 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Downtown Los Angeles. Sage Ranch Park is adjacent on part of the northern boundary and the community of Bell Canyon along the entire southern boundary.

Throughout the years, approximately ten low-power nuclear reactors operated at SSFL, in addition to several "critical facilities". At least four of the ten nuclear reactors suffered accidents. 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 radioactivity, 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. 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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Susana_Field_Laboratory

Offline zorgon

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Re: Santa Susana Field Laboratory
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2015, 12:43:43 PM »
Introduction


Santa Susana Field Laboratory administrative areas, and the surrounding communities.

Santa Susana Field Laboratory administrative areas, and the surrounding communities.
Since 1947 the Santa Susana Field Laboratory location has been used by a number of companies and agencies. The first was Rocketdyne, originally a division of North American Aviation-NAA, which developed a variety of pioneering, successful and reliable liquid rocket engines. Some were those used in the Navaho cruise missile, the Redstone rocket, the Thor and Jupiter ballistic missiles, early versions of the Delta and Atlas rockets, the Saturn rocket family and the Space Shuttle Main Engine. The Atomics International division of North American Aviation utilized a separate and dedicated portion of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory to build and operate the first commercial nuclear power plant in the United States and for the testing and development of compact nuclear reactors including the first and only known nuclear reactor launched into Low Earth Orbit by the United States, the SNAP-10A. Atomics International also operated the Energy Technology Engineering Center for the U.S. Department of Energy at the site. The Santa Susana Field Laboratory includes sites identified as historic by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and by the American Nuclear Society. In 1996, The Boeing Company became the primary owner and operator of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and later closed the site.

Three California state agencies and three federal agencies have been overseeing a detailed investigation of environmental impacts from historical site operations since at least 1990. Concerns about the environmental impact of past disposal practices have inspired at least two lawsuits seeking payment from Boeing and several interest groups are actively involved with steering the ongoing environmental investigation.

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory is the focus of diverse interests. The National Register of Historic Places listed Burro Flats Painted Cave is located within the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, on a portion of the site owned by the U.S. government. The drawings within the cave have been termed "the best preserved Indian pictograph in Southern California." Several tributary streams to the Los Angeles River have headwater watersheds on the SSFL property, including Bell Creek (90% of SSFL drainage), Dayton Creek, Woolsey Canyon, and Runkle Creek.

Several unidentified flying object sightings have been associated with the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, one as recent as April 2007.

Offline zorgon

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Re: Santa Susana Field Laboratory
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2015, 12:45:38 PM »
History


Aerial view looking north, of the Energy Technology Engineering Center in Area IV (1990).

Aerial view looking north, of the Energy Technology Engineering Center in Area IV (1990).
SSFL was slated as a United States government facility dedicated to the development and testing of nuclear reactors, powerful rockets such as the Delta II, and the systems that powered the Apollo missions. The location of SSFL was chosen in 1947 for its remoteness in order to conduct work that was considered too dangerous and too noisy to be performed in more densely populated areas. In subsequent years however, the Southern California population grew, along with housing developments surrounding "The Hill." Today, more than 150,000 people live within 5 miles (8 km) of the facility, and at least half a million people live within 10 miles (16 km).

The site is divided into four production and two buffer areas, (Area I, II, III, and IV, and the northern and southern buffer zones). Areas I through III were used for rocket testing, missile testing, and munitions development. Area IV was used primarily for nuclear reactor experimentation and development. Laser research for the Strategic Defense Initiative (popularly known as "Star Wars"), was also conducted in Area IV.

Offline zorgon

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Re: Santa Susana Field Laboratory
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2015, 12:47:43 PM »
Nuclear and energy research and development


SSFL: the Atomics International Snap reactor.

The Atomics International Division of North American Aviation utilized SSFL Area IV as the site of United States first commercial nuclear power plant and the testing and development of the SNAP-10A, the first nuclear reactor launched into outer space by the United States. Atomics International also operated the Energy Technology Engineering Center for the U.S. government. As overall interest in nuclear power declined, Atomics International transitioned to non-nuclear energy-related projects, such as coal gasification, and gradually ceased designing and testing nuclear reactors. Atomics International was eventually merged with the Rocketdyne division in 1978.

Sodium reactor experiment

The Sodium Reactor Experiment-SRE was an experimental nuclear reactor which operated from 1957 to 1964 and was the first commercial power plant in the world to experience a core meltdown. There was a decades-long cover-up by the US Department of Energy. The operation predated environmental regulation, so early disposal techniques are not recorded in detail. Thousands of pounds of sodium coolant from the time of the meltdown are not yet accounted for.

The reactor and support systems were removed in 1981 and the building torn down in 1999.

Energy Technology Engineering Center

The Energy Technology Engineering Center-ETEC, was a government-owned, contractor-operated complex of industrial facilities located within Area IV of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The ETEC specialized in non-nuclear testing of components which were designed to transfer heat from a nuclear reactor using liquid metals instead of water or gas. The center operated from 1966 to 1998. The ETEC site has been closed and is now undergoing building removal and environmental remediation by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Offline zorgon

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Re: Santa Susana Field Laboratory
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2015, 12:50:00 PM »
Rocket engine development

North American Aviation (NAA) began its development of liquid propellant rocket engines after the end of WWII. The Rocketdyne division of NAA, which came into being under its own name in the mid-1950s,[citation needed] designed and tested several rocket engines at the facility. They included engines for the Army's Redstone (an advanced short-range version of the German V-2), and the Army Jupiter intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) as well as the Air Force's counterpart IRBM, the Thor.[citation needed] Also included were engines for the Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), as well as the twin combustion chamber alcohol/liquid oxygen booster engine for the NAVAHO, a large, intercontinental cruise missile that never became operational. Later, Rocketdyne designed and tested the huge F-1 engine that was eventually used as one of a cluster of engines powering the Apollo booster, as well as the J-2 liquid oxygen/hydrogen upper stage engine also used on the Project Apollo spacecraft.

Accidents and site contamination

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.[citation needed] (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 radioactivity, but thought to be much more than the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979.[25] 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.

Offline zorgon

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Re: Santa Susana Field Laboratory
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2015, 12:52:42 PM »
Sodium burn pits


Toxic substances burn and are released into the air.

The sodium burn pit, an open-air pit for cleaning sodium-contaminated components, was also contaminated when radioactively and chemically contaminated items were burned in it, in contravention of safety requirements. In an article in the Ventura County Star, James Palmer, a former SSFL worker was interviewed. The article notes that "of the 27 men on Palmer's crew, 22 died of cancers." On some nights Palmer returned home from work and kissed "his wife [hello], only to burn her lips with the chemicals he had breathed at work." The report also noted that "During their breaks, Palmer's crew would fish in one of three ponds ... The men would use a solution that was 90 percent hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the contamination. Sometimes, the water was so polluted it bubbled. The fish died off." Palmer's interview ended on a somber note: "They had seven wells up there, water wells, and every damn one of them was contaminated," Palmer said, "It was a horror story."

Other spills and releases occurred over the decades of operation as well. In 1989, a DOE investigation found widespread chemical and radioactive contamination on the property. Widely publicized in the local press, the revelations led to substantial concern among community members and elected officials, resulting in a challenge to and subsequent shutdown of continued nuclear activity at the site, and the filing of lawsuits. Cleanup commenced, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was brought in at the request of local legislators to provide oversight.


A worker disposes of toxic chemicals by blowing up full barrels with a rifle shot (the reaction to the shot caused an explosion).

On December 11, 2002, a top Department of Energy (DOE) official, Mike Lopez, described typical clean-up procedures executed by Field Lab employees in the past. Workers would dispose of barrels filled with highly toxic waste by shooting the barrels with rifles so that they would explode and release their contents into the air. It is unclear when this process ended, but for certain did end prior to the 1990s.

On July 26, 1994, two scientists, Otto K. Heiney, 52, of Canoga Park in Chatsworth and Larry A. Pugh, 51, of Thousand Oaks, were killed when the chemicals they were illegally burning in open pits exploded. After a grand jury investigation and FBI raid on the facility, three Rocketdyne officials pleaded guilty in June 2004 to illegally storing explosive materials. The jury deadlocked on the more serious charges related to illegal burning of hazardous waste.

At trial, a retired Rocketdyne mechanic testified as to what he witnessed at the time of the explosion: "I assumed we were burning waste," Lee Wells testified, comparing the process used on July 21 and 26, 1994, to that once used to legally dispose of leftover chemicals at the company's old burn pit. As Heiney poured the chemicals for what would have been the third burn of the day, the blast occurred, Wells said. "[The background noise] was so loud I didn't hear anything ... I felt the blast and I looked down and my shirt was coming apart."

When he realized what had occurred, Wells said, "I felt to see if I was all there ... I knew I was burned but I didn't know how bad." Wells suffered second- and third-degree burns to his face, arms and stomach.

Offline zorgon

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Re: Santa Susana Field Laboratory
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2015, 12:54:48 PM »
Wildfires and contamination

In 2005, wildfires swept through northern Los Angeles County and parts of Ventura County. The fires consumed most of the dry brush throughout the Simi Hills where SSFL is located. The facility received substantial fire damage. Since the fire, allegations have emerged that vast quantities of on-site contamination were released into the air. Most recently, Los Angeles County firefighters who were assigned to SSFL during the fire have been sent for medical testing to see if any harmful doses were ingested or inhaled while protecting the facility.

While community members and firefighters have expressed concern about the amount of exposure, Boeing officials stand by their position that no contamination of the air resulted from the fire, and that any contamination that may have been consumed by the fire was negligible.

California Department of Toxic Substances Control also claims that no significant contamination occurred as a result of the fire. Although the Field Lab is under current criticism for violating almost 50 discharge permits, state agencies have been silent on the issue. Recently, lawyers disclosed to the California State Water Resources Control Board that over 80 exceedances of Boeing's discharge permits were found in the preceding year alone. In January 2006, the State Water Resources Control Board finally stepped in, and refused some requests by Boeing for even lighter standards.

Medical claims

Also in October 2005, plaintiff Margaret-Ann Galasso, in a suit against Boeing criticized her attorneys, who, as she claimed, accepted a $30 million settlement with Boeing without her approval. The attorneys stand to collect $18 million, or 60% of the settlement amount after their costs and fees are subtracted. The plaintiff who disclosed the allegedly tainted deal is splitting the rest of the settlement with other plaintiffs and will only receive around $30,000, a far cry from the amount she will need for extensive future medical treatments for diseases that were linked to contamination from the SSFL facility.

In October 2006, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory Advisory Panel, made up of independent scientists and researchers from around the United States, concluded that contamination at the facility resulted in between 0 and 1,800 cancer deaths (the average estimate was 300 deaths). The report also concluded that the SRE meltdown caused the release of more than 458 times the amount of radioactivity released by the Three Mile Island accident.

Cleanup project

During its years of operation widespread use occurred of highly toxic chemical additives to power over 30,000 rocket engine tests and to clean the rocket test-stands afterwards, as well as considerable nuclear research and at least four nuclear accidents, which has resulted in the SSFL becoming a seriously contaminated site and offsite pollution source requiring a sophisticated multi-agency and corporate Cleanup Project. A long process has been and is still ongoing to determine the site contamination levels and locations, cleanup standards to meet, methods to use, timelines and costs, and completion requirements - all still being defined, debated, and litigated. The Santa Susana Field Lab Cleanup Project is a very complex challenge: technically, logistically, politically, legally, and emotionally.

Regarding cleanup, the site's current owner is Boeing, with NASA and DOE liable for several parcels within that. On August 2, 2005, Pratt & Whitney purchased Boeing's Rocketdyne division, but declined to acquire SSFL as part of the sale.

Offline Phedre

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Re: Santa Susana Field Laboratory
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2015, 01:16:31 PM »


Another Hanford, which has had enough money spent on clean-up, to build another planet.  It will never be finished. Wonder how many more of these sites are around?   :-\

Offline zorgon

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Re: Santa Susana Field Laboratory
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2015, 02:12:56 PM »

Another Hanford, which has had enough money spent on clean-up, to build another planet.  It will never be finished. Wonder how many more of these sites are around?   :-\

Well there is MOUNDS  by MONSANTO
http://www.thelivingmoon.com/forum2/index.php?topic=8518.msg116634#msg116634

 


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