The Department of Energy Thursday announced that it has entered an agreement with the California Sate Historic Preservation Office, allowing the state to examine areas of historic significance at the northwest section of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory before cleanup efforts take place.
Under the agreement, the DOE will involve tribal leaders and follow environmental guidelines during groundwater and soil cleanup at the laboratory, which has been contaminated for years, and it will remove 18 buildings from the area.
The SHPO will review any sites that could have historic significance prior to the cleanup of about 300 acres at the site. The DOE found 26 archeological sites and “numerous isolated finds” in the area, according to the agreement, and at least eight sites could be protected by the National Historic Preservation Act.
The department will also complete a monitoring plan for any “ground-disturbing” activities during its cleanup.
Beginning next year, the DOE will distribute an annual report to stakeholders and arrange meetings regarding any findings of historical significance and on the status of contaminated materials.
The agreement will last five years or if the state’s research is completed earlier.
The SSFL is an EPA Superfund site northwest of Los Angeles once deemed one of the most polluted areas in the country.
Boeing Co. still does research at the lab, but it has been operated under the auspices of Rocketdyne, Rockwell and Atomics International dating to the mid-1940s. The nation’s first commercial nuclear reactor was built there.
In 1989, a DOE study found widespread radioactive and chemical contamination throughout the site.
In 2007, the EPA concluded that the field lab is contaminated with enough spent rocket fuel, chemical waste and other hazardous materials to be included on the list of the nation’s worst pollution areas.
The federal Superfund law gave the EPA the power to compel the cleanup of heavily polluted sites, and established a fund for cleanup when the entity responsible for the pollution cannot not be found.
Boeing entered into a cleanup agreement with the EPA in 2017.
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