Santa Susana Field Laboratory Site Activity Overview
The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) oversees a comprehensive environmental investigation, monitoring and cleanup program of contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL).
Site Operations and History
The Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) site consists of four administrative areas used for research, development, and test operations as well as buffer zones. The 2,849-acre site is located in the Simi Hills area of Ventura County, approximately 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. SSFL is between 1,640 and 2,250 feet above sea level, overlooking Simi Valley to the north and northwest and the San Fernando Valley to the southeast.
It is jointly owned by Boeing and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and is operated by the Rocketdyne Propulsion and Power Division of Boeing. A small portion of the Rocketdyne-owned property is leased to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). As mentioned, there are four administrative areas, and undeveloped buffer areas:
- Area I consists of 671 acres owned by Rocketdyne and 42 acres owned by NASA in the northeast portion of the site. Area I contains administrative and laboratory facilities, and was formerly used for rocket engine testing. Area I also includes the former Area I Thermal Treatment Facility and three rocket engine test areas, the Bowl, Canyon, and Advanced Propulsion Test Facility (APTF) areas.
- Area II consists of 410 acres in the north-central portion of the site and is owned by NASA and operated by Rocketdyne. Area II contains two formerly used rocket test firing facilities and four rocket test firing facilities. Area II includes the Alfa, Bravo, Coca, and Delta rocket engine test areas.
- Area III consists of 114 acres in the northwest portion of the site and is owned and operated by Rocketdyne. Area III also includes the systems test area (STL-IV) and associated laboratories.
- Area IV consists of 290 acres owned and operated by Rocketdyne and 90 acres leased by the DOE.
DOE and its contractors operated several nuclear reactors and associated fuel facilities and laboratories within this area. This area also includes five surface water discharge outfalls monitored by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Board.
- The northwestern and southern buffer areas consist of 175 and 1,140 acres, respectively. Industrial activities have never occurred on these naturally vegetated areas. Two NPDES discharge outfalls and drainage channels are located within the southern boundary area. The northern boundary area was recently purchased by Rocketdyne from the adjoining Brandeis-Bardin Institute.
Surface Water Monitoring: The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) is the lead agency responsible for regulating surface water discharge activities at SSFL. To learn more, please visit the RWQCB Web site or visit the Other Agencies page under Regulatory Oversight on this Web site.
Groundwater Characterization and Cleanup: This program consists of ongoing groundwater monitoring of existing wells, sampling of new groundwater locations, and treatment of contaminated groundwater when needed.
Senate Bill 990 (Kuehl): SB 990, effective on January 1, 2008, allows DTSC to clean up the site under the requirements and procedures of the California Superfund Law, and to be enforced under the authority of either the California Superfund Law or the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The new law gives DTSC the authority to oversee all aspects of the cleanup including both chemical and radioactive wastes, and allows the use of the State Superfund’s risk assessment process for both the radiological and toxic contamination. It also requires DTSC to use the highest and most protective cleanup standards provided under the “rural residential (agricultural)” land use designation. For a full discussion of this process click here.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA): Prior to SB 990, DTSC used the authorities within RCRA to oversee cleanup of the site. As noted above, SB 990 gave DTSC additional authorities to address the unique aspects of this site. Documents on this Web site that were developed under RCRA oversight use the following process:
- RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI): A series of investigations (RFI) is a series of investigations and studies that is the subsequent step in the corrective action process following a RCRA Facility Assessment. The RFI identifies the types and extent of chemicals of concern and determines a cleanup criteria, which will be documented in a RCRA Facility Investigation Report (RFI Report). Eleven RFI Reports will be prepared to address all areas of chemical contamination identified at SSFL. To review the RFI reports, please visit the RCRA Facility Investigation Soils page and the RCRA Facility Investigation – Groundwater page under the Document Library on this Web site. A map of the RFI report areas can be found on the SSFL maps page.
- Corrective Measures Study: The RFI reports provide the basis for a Corrective Measures Study, which evaluates alternatives for cleaning up contamination.