Activists to mark 60th anniversary of partial nuclear meltdown at Santa Susana Field Lab https://www.vcstar.com/story/news/local/communities/simi-valley/2019/07/11/nuclear-meltdown-santa-susana-field-lab-60th-anniversary-saturday-simi-valley/1677893001/
60 years ago today the largest nuclear accident in U.S. history occurred above the Southern California community of Simi Valley when the Santa Susanna Field Laboratory (SSFL) site suffered a partial nuclear meltdown. That accident, kept secret for two decades, has resulted in ongoing local health effects that persist to this day and has pitted the community health and wellbeing against corporate financial interests and captured government agencies.
Over its years of operation, there were 10 non-contained nuclear reactors that operated on the site as well as plutonium and uranium fuel fabrication facilities and a "hot lab" where highly irradiated fuel from around the U.S. nuclear complex was shipped for decladding and examination. In addition there were tens of thousands of rocket engine tests conducted over the many years of operation.
The Sodium Reactor Experiment or SRE was the first reactor to provide commercial nuclear power to a U.S. city in Moorpark. Then on July 13, 1959, a partial meltdown occurred in which a third of the fuel experienced melting.
Dr. Arjun Makhijani estimated the incident released 260 times the amount of radioactive iodine as was released from the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.
As a result of this partial meltdown and numerous other reactor accidents, radioactive fires, massive chemical contamination in handling of the radioactive and chemically contaminated toxic materials that were routinely burned in open pits through the years at the site, it remains one of the most highly contaminated sites in the country.
It has widespread contamination with radionuclides such as cesium-137, strontium-90, plutonium-239 and toxic chemicals perchlorate, trichloroethylene (TCE), heavy metals and dioxins.
In 2012, the U.S. EPA released the results of an extensive radiological survey of Area IV and the Northern Buffer Zone at SSFL, and found 500 samples with radioactivity above background levels, in some cases, thousands of times over background.
Through the years, there have been many health studies performed. In 2006, a cluster of retinoblastoma cases, a rare eye cancer affecting young children, was identified within an area downwind of the site.
The Public Health Institute's 2012 California Breast Cancer Mapping Project found that the rate of breast cancer is higher in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Oak Park and Moorpark than in almost any other place in the state.
In addition, studies by cancer registries found elevated rates of bladder cancer associated with proximity to SSFL.