The Boeing Company is a hugely powerful aerospace giant. Last year, its total revenue was $94.6 billion dollars. Cleaning up its radioactive and toxic chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) would barely dent that wealth. But instead, Boeing spends millions on PR and lobbyists to push its agenda with elected officials, including its desire to get out of having to clean up the pollution for which it is responsible at SSFL. Boeing knows how to get what it wants.
But in 2010, the determination of community members living near SSFL prevailed, resulting in historic agreements for DOE and NASA’s operational areas of SSFL to be cleaned up to background levels of contamination, and a commitment from the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) that Boeing – which refused to sign the agreements – would nonetheless be required to clean up to comparable levels.
That’s when Boeing really ramped up its game to get out of the cleanup. It used tried and true polluter techniques: Hire people who used to be top officials at the state’s regulatory agencies to lobby their successors and former coworkers. Create an “astroturf” or fake grassroots front group to oppose the cleanup. Push a narrative that SSFL’s nuclear and chemical contamination is harmless and its scenic habitat would be damaged by an “excessive” cleanup. Harass and vilify scientists, community members, and cleanup advocates who say otherwise. Click here to learn more about Boeing’s greenwashing campaign.
When DTSC’s long-awaited draft Environmental Impact Report was nearing release, Boeing pulled out all the stops. It launched a new website which not only pushes its greenwashing narrative, but tries to get people to submit public comments to DTSC and elected officials against the cleanup!!! Boeing’s PR consultants probably beamed when they presented the name of the website to their corporate masters. “ProtectSantaSusana.com” tries to portray Boeing as a valiant environmental steward defending the (not so) pristine site against those who have the temerity to demand that they actually clean up their toxic mess.
Community members and cleanup advocates* who have been working for decades to get SSFL fully cleaned up were outraged. Boeing wants to protect Santa Susana? Boeing? Protect Santa Susana? From what – cleaning up its dangerous radiation and chemicals so that nearby neighborhoods can finally live free from its toxic threat? That’s like saying people in a burning building need to be protected from firefighters, or that people drowning need to be protected from lifeguards, or that accident victims need to be protected from EMTs. You get the picture. Boeing is trying to present itself as both a savior and a victim, but in fact Boeing is the victimizer and Santa Susana only needs to be saved from Boeing’s absurd and unconscionable disinformation campaign.
If Boeing gets its way, about 98% of the contamination will not get cleaned up and will continue to be available to migrate to nearby communities. In fact, Boeing’s own risk assessment reports show that the contamination is so high in some parts of the property that were people to live on it, 96% of them would get a cancer from the contamination. Even with some dilution in migrating offsite, you can imagine how high the risk would remain for people living nearby.
So we launched our own website, Protect Santa Susana from Boeing, to call out Boeing’s greenwashing lies for what they are, to fight back against its unscrupulous tactics, and to urge the community and elected officials to demand that DTSC require Boeing to clean up ALL of the contamination.
Boeing will show you pictures of rolling green hills, wildlife, and duped nature lovers hiking through the unremediated property. Boeing won’t show you melted nuclear fuel rods, burn pits, toxic smoke and gases engulfing the hillside, and former workers and community members – including children – with cancer. But we will. Because the public needs to know the truth about what happened at SSFL, the contamination that remains, and the consequences of being exposed to that contamination if it is not cleaned up. Ironically, it is not just people who are threatened by Boeing’s irresponsible efforts to get out of its cleanup obligations. Boeing’s own reports show that the levels of contamination it wants to leave behind pose serious risks to the very wildlife it is now claiming it wants to protect.
To be clear, we are David up against a monstrous Goliath. But we’ve prevailed before and we can prevail again – but only if every single person who cares about getting SSFL cleaned up takes action like never before. Your health and that of your family’s is at stake.
The December 14 deadline to submit comments on DTSC’s draft PEIR for the SSFL cleanup has passed. Many thanks to the thousands of community members who fought back against Boeing’s unscrupulous greenwashing campaign and instead told DTSC to uphold the 2010 cleanup agreements that it signed with DOE and NASA to clean up all detectable contamination in their operational areas and DTSC’s commitment to require Boeing to cleanup to a comparable level. You can still take action by signing the #1million parents petition and by contacting your elected officials and tell them you want SSFL fully cleaned up, as promised. Click here for information on your US Congressional representative, and click here for information on your California representatives.
We must stand up to Boeing and stand up for our community, so that current and future generations are forever protected from SSFL contamination.
*Organizations participating in the creation of this website include the Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition, the SSFL Work Group, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, and Committee to Bridge the Gap. See our resources page to learn more about these and other groups who support the promised, full cleanup of SSFL.