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Santa Susana Field Laboratory
Environmental Cleanup and Closure

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Glossary

A - D

Area of Concern (AOC)
An area where releases of hazardous substances may have occurred or a location where there has been a release or threat of a release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)
One of a group of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PAHs). They are not produced or used commercially but are very commonly found, since they are formed as a result of incomplete combustion of organic materials. (See PAH below).
Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
Also known as Superfund, CERCLA funds and carries out EPA solid waste emergency and long-term removal and remedial activities. These activities include establishing the National Priorities List, investigating sites for inclusion on the list, determining their priority, and conducting and/or supervising cleanup and other remedial actions. CERCLA was passed by Congress in 1980 and amended in 1986.
Characterization
The process of refining what data is already known regarding the presence and amount of chemical contamination, verifying that sufficient data exists to describe site conditions and identifying what else needs to be known.
Clean Closure
RCRA regulations on clean closure (removal and decontamination) are found in 40 CFR §§264.111, §§264.228, and §§264.258. They require all waste residues and contaminated containment system components, contaminated subsoils, and structures and equipment contaminated with waste and leachate to be removed and managed as hazardous waste or decontaminated before the site management is completed.
Cleanup
An informal term broadly used to describe various activities taken to deal with a release, threatened release, or presence of a hazardous substance or substances that could affect public health and/or the environment.
Corrective Measures Implementation (CMI)
The CMI is the last phase of the RCRA corrective action process when the remedy is designed and implemented. This phase follows the selection of remedy and approval of permit modification or order amendment. The modified permit or amended order should include conditions that specify how the corrective measures are to be implemented.
Corrective Measures Study (CMS)
The general objective of the CMS is to develop and evaluate corrective measure alternative(s) that may be utilized at the facility to address releases of hazardous wastes or constituents from Solid Waste Management Units, Areas of Concern, and other source areas at the facility. The CMS is analogous to the Feasibility Study conducted pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or State Superfund laws.
Contaminant
According to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a contaminant is a substance that is either present in an environment where it does not belong or is present at levels that might cause harmful (adverse) health effects.
Dioxin
A family of chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds known to be highly toxic and to persist in the environment for extended periods. They are a common by-product of many industrial and manufacturing processes and result from incomplete combustion in fires and incinerators.
California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)
The State of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is a state government agency that regulates hazardous waste and clean-up for existing contamination. DTSC assesses ways to reduce hazardous waste produced in California. Their mission is to "provide the highest level of safety, and to protect public health and the environment from toxic harm". The SSFL cleanup is administered by the DTSC.

E - O

Ecological Receptor
Ecological receptors includes any living organisms other than humans, the habitat which supports such organisms, or natural resources which could be adversely affected by environmental contaminations resulting by a release at or migration from a site.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
An EIS is the most detailed and rigorous level of NEPA review provided for in the NEPA process. An EIS is a report on an action to be done by a federal agency, potential environmental effects from this action, alternatives to undertaking the action, and any mitigation to impacted areas.
Elevated Concentration
A concentration which exceeds a human health or ecological screening criteria level, or a background concentration level.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The federal agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment.
Groundwater
That part of the subsurface water that is in the saturated zone, from which wells, springs, and groundwater runoff are supplied.
Groundwater Plume
A volume of contaminated groundwater in an aquifer that extends downward and outward from a specific source of contamination.
Information Repository
A file available to the public that contains current information, technical reports, and reference documents on an environmental cleanup site. The information repository is usually located in a public building that is convenient for local residents - such as a public school, city hall, or library.
Liquid Oxygen (LOX)
LOX is a bluish, translucent, magnetic liquid obtained by compressing gaseous oxygen and then cooling it below its boiling point. LOX is used as an oxidizer in rocket propellants.
Monitoring Wells
Wells drilled at specific locations where groundwater can be routinely sampled at selected depths to evaluate groundwater flow patterns, and types and extent of contamination present.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
Before a major action is taken that may have a significant impact on the quality of the environment, NEPA requires all federal agencies to consider environmental values in planning actions and activities. NEPA also provides a means to make information about the proposed action available to the public, other federal, state, and local agencies and to obtain the comments and involvement of interested parties.
Operable Unit (OU)
A site listed that may be divided into separate areas for purposes of site investigation and cleanup. OUs help facilitate addressing specific issues at the site such as geographic areas within the site, contaminants, or environmental conditions.

P - R

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)
A group of over 100 different chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas, garbage, or other organic substances like tobacco or charbroiled meat. PAHs are usually found as a mixture containing two or more of these compounds, such as soot. Some PAHs are manufactured. These pure PAHs usually exist as colorless, white, or pale yellow-green solids. PAHs are found in coal tar, crude oil, creosote, and roofing tar, but a few are used in medicines or to make dyes, plastics, and pesticides.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB)
Part of a broad family of man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. PCBs were domestically manufactured from 1929 until 1979, when their manufacture was banned. They have a range of toxicity and vary in consistency from thin, light colored liquids to yellow or black waxy solids. PCBs were formerly used in hundreds of commercial applications including: electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic equipment and in paints, plastics and rubber products as well as in pigments, dyes and many industrial applications.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
A 1976 amendment to the first federal solid waste legislation, the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965. RCRA established a regulatory system to track hazardous wastes from the time of generation to final disposal. The law requires facilities to obtain a permit if they treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to ensure the safe management of hazardous wastes.
Remediation
Actions taken to deal with a release or threatened release of hazardous substances that could affect public health, welfare or the environment. The term "remediation" is often used broadly as "cleanup."
RCRA Facility Assessment (RFA)
This is the initial phase of corrective action. It includes determinations of actual or potential releases for all environmental media (i.e., soil, groundwater, subsurface gas, air, or surface water). The RFA generally includes historical records research and may include limited sampling.
RCRA Facility Investigation phase (RFI)
A series of investigations and studies that is a step in the corrective action to identify the types and extent of chemicals of concern at the site and establish cleanup criteria.

S - Z

Solvent
Liquid capable of dissolving other substances. Trichloroethene, also known as trichloroethylene (TCE), was the primary solvent used for cleaning rocket engine components and other cleaning purposes.
Source Area
The location where hazardous substances were originally released and normally where the highest concentrations of chemicals of concern can be found.
Stakeholder(s)
Any individual or party that has an interest in the outcome of a remedial decision.
Solid Waste Management Unit (SWMU)
Any area at a facility where solid or hazardous wastes have been placed at any time, or any area where solid wastes have been routinely and systematically released.
Trichloroethylene, also known as trichloroethene, or trichloroethane (TCE)
Trichloroethylene is a nonflammable, colorless liquid with a somewhat sweet odor and a sweet, burning taste. It is used mainly as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts, but it is also an ingredient in adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluids, and spot removers.
Test Stand
Four former testing areas (Alfa, Bravo, Coca, Delta) for rocket engines that consisted of open-framed metal structures with concrete foundations, as well as related buildings.
Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH)
A term used to describe a large family of several hundred compounds that originally come from crude oil. Because there are so many different chemicals in crude oil and in other petroleum products, it is not practical to measure each one separately. However, it is useful to measure the total amount of TPH at a site. TPH is a mixture of chemicals but they are all made mainly from hydrogen and carbon (hydrocarbons). Some chemicals found in TPH include hexane, jet fuels, mineral oils, benzene and toluene, as well as other petroleum products and gasoline components.
Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)
Organic (containing carbon) compounds that evaporate readily into the air. They often have a sharp smell and can be found in many products such as office equipment, adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, paints, solvents and cleaning products.

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