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Residents Accuse NASA of Reneging on Agreement to Clean up Toxic Mess at California Rocket Test Site

5 Oct 2020, 22:21 UTC
Residents Accuse NASA of Reneging on Agreement to Clean up Toxic Mess at California Rocket Test Site
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Santa Susana Field Laboratory in California.

by Douglas MessierManaging Editor

NASA is planning to spend tens of billions of dollars returning astronauts to the moon and searching for life on Mars and other worlds, but when it comes to cleaning up a toxic mess it created here on Earth, the space agency says it just can’t afford it.

NASA has finalized a plan to conduct the least extensive and least costly cleanup of contaminated soil and water at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) in southern California. The space agency tested rocket engines there for decades before closing the facility in 2006.

The decision, which NASA announced in the Federal Register on Friday, has angered local residents who say the space agency is reneging on its commitment to do a full cleanup of the heavily polluted site in Ventura County. They fear toxins left in the soil will leach into local groundwater and endanger the health of residents.

The 2,668-acre (1,080 ha) laboratory is divided into multiple areas. Rocket engine testing began in the 1949 prior to the formation of NASA. The U.S. Department of Energy (Boeing) used the another portion of the laboratory to conduct nuclear power research. Boeing ...

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