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California wildfire could be spreading radioactive contamination from cold war site.

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For decades the community around Santa Susanna Field Laboratory (SSFL), just north of Los Angeles, California, asked that the site be cleaned of chemical and radioactive contamination. Now it may be too late to contain it. The Woolsey fire, which evidence indicates started at SSFL, continues to devastate California. It could also be carrying pollution from the former research site to other areas.

Scientists at SSFL experimented with new rocket, weapons and nuclear reactor technologies, leaving a dangerous legacy of environmental contamination, including releases from a reactor meltdown at the site in 1959. Surrounding suburban communities have experienced elevated cancer rates.

Community members are now asking the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) to warn the public and fire fighters that smoke from the fire could be carrying radioactive particles from the site. The DTSC still denies any danger but they refuse to make public methods used, and results of, any testing they have done. If you live within 25 miles of SSFL, contact Fairewinds for information on testing dust in your house for radiation.

Wildfires have spread radionuclides from areas contaminated by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown, demonstrating the danger contaminated sites, like SSFL, continue to pose, particularly given the growing impact of climate change on the frequency and intensity of wildfires. This is an unfolding story.