To: Debbie Raphael, Director Department of Toxic Substances Control, Rick Brausch, Legislative and Regulatory Policy Director, Department of Toxic Substances Control, Matt Rodriquez, Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency, and...

Bring back the Santa Susana Field Labratory Inter-Agency Work Group

We are requesting that the California department responsible for the cleanup of the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory reinstate the SSFL Inter-Agency Work Group which had been meeting quarterly since 1990. For almost a year, the new leadership at the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has cancelled the quarterly Work Group meetings. During the same period, critical developments regarding the cleanup, including important findings of contamination by US EPA and matters affecting the cleanup agreements, have occurred but there has been no Work Group meeting for the public to learn about them.

For twenty-two years, the SSFL Inter-Agency Work Group has been the primary source for the public, elected officials and their staffs, and the media, to be updated in a format that provides useful information to community members, many of whom are new to the situation. It also provides a needed mechanism for coordination between the various agencies involved in the cleanup in a public setting.

We recognize that there are a couple of meetings a week on narrow technical issues in which only a handful of the same community members attend. We also recognize that DTSC had established a Public Participation Group, which is primarily a discussion session for often the same handful of community members. Neither type of meeting is remotely appropriate for community members new to the situation seeking to be educated about the contamination and its cleanup, nor for people such as electeds’ staffs and the news media trying to be kept updated on a periodic basis—which is precisely the function that the Work Group has performed so well for more than two decades and upon which people depended.

Since 1990 the Department of Toxics Substances Control has strongly supported the Work Group. Two years ago, a petition to create a Community Advisory Group (CAG) as an alternative to the Work Group was strongly opposed by a significant number of people in the community and DTSC rejected it. A CAG is a discussion session to review and comment on DTSC response plans and is not an appropriate format for informing the general public in a clear and useful fashion about important developments involving the various agencies. That is the service that the SSFL Inter-Agency Work Group has so long provided.

We urge DTSC to not reverse its longstanding positions supporting the Work Group and opposing a CAG as a substitute. Reinstate the Work Group.

Why is this important?

The new leadership at the state toxics agency has shut down the Santa Susana Field Laboratory Inter-Agency Workgroup, which was the only place that the general public could, on a quarterly basis, learn the truth about what was going on with the cleanup of that contaminated site. The Workgroup is critical to assuring that a proper cleanup occurs. Help ensure the polluted site is cleaned up by signing this petition and encouraging your family, friends and colleagues to do the same.