Below is a list of some key documents related to the NASA environmental cleanup at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). For a more comprehensive index of documents associated with the SSFL cleanup, visit the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) SSFL Document Library (Note: Some browsers will fail to render the DTSC library because the library of documents is not served through a secure connection, as the home page is.).
NASA published an infographic about NASA’s soil cleanup at SSFL about the Suburban Residential Cleanup Standard that includes background on the decision and a description of the Environmental Review Process. It also provides a definition of Suburban Residential Cleanup and lists the next steps in the process at SSFL.
In October 2020, NASA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for Soil Cleanup Activities at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. Following the National Environmental Policy Act Process, NASA’s decision is to proceed with a Suburban Residential Cleanup, as described in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. A Suburban Residential Cleanup would be protective of public health and the environment, follow nationwide EPA guidelines, and is consistent with the cleanup standards imposed by the Department of Toxic Substances Control across the State of California.
In July 2020, NASA issued its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for Soil Cleanup is part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process that documents NASA’s evaluation of the likely impacts that soil cleanup alternatives would have on the community and the environment. The final document reflects the agency’s careful consideration of all scientific data, regulatory requirements, and comments received from the public on the Draft SEIS.
This document provides the summary tables of soil excavation and backfill volume calculations for each cleanup sub-area. The calculations were used in NASA’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Soil Cleanup Activities at SSFL (NASA, 2018d).
The linked document will be re-released and made to meet accessiblity requirements
The Soil Ecology and Restoration Group (SERG) at San Diego State University (SDSU) conducted two studies to assist NASA in determining the suitability of available backfill material for use as replacement soil in the restoration of the clean-up areas after contaminated soils have been removed from the site. Soil microbial community deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analyses were conducted on the backfill material and reference samples from native habitats occurring at SSFL to document the taxonomic diversity of each. Additionally, greenhouse seed germination and plant development trials were conducted to determine the suitability of the backfill material for the germination and initial growth and development of native southern California plant species.
On March 19, 2019 the NASA OIG released an audit examining the status of NASA’s cleanup and assessed the extent to which the Agency is conducting their efforts in a cost-effective manner. The OIG recommended that NASA (1) Pursue all available options—administrative, legal, or political—to ensure NASA's SSFL soil cleanup is performed in an environmentally and financially responsible manner based on the intended future use of the property, and (2) Decide whether to preserve or demolish the remaining six test stands and related structures before soil remediation begins and take action on that decision.
NASA prepared a Record of Decision for NASA Groundwater Cleanup Activities at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). This groundwater ROD includes a summary of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process completed in the FEIS, public involvement in the decision-making process, the alternative considered, key environmental issues evaluated, statement of the decision made, and the basis for the decision.
NASA recognizes the historic significance of the people and customs of the region, and their connection to the land at SSFL. The 2014 Programmatic Agreement between NASA, the California State Historic Preservation Officer, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians required NASA to develop an ethnographic history, the goal of gaining a greater understanding of the Native American uses of and associations with the Burro Flats Site complex, SSFL, and the Simi Hills area.
On June 25, 2015, Administrator Bolden sent a response letter to the Tribe. In this letter, NASA agreed to contact the appropriate Federal agencies and departments with expertise in the national monument designation process to share the Chumash proposal. Additionally, NASA agreed to defer demolition of historic test stands, including those within the Coca Test Area, for as long as possible without impacting overall cleanup responsibilities, in order to allow appropriate offices within the Executive Branch to consider the proposal.
In April 2015, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, one of the signatories of the April 2014 Programmatic Agreement regarding demolition and soil and groundwater cleanup at SSFL, submitted a letter to NASA requesting support for their proposal to designate the Santa Susana Field Laboratory property a National Monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906. In addition, the letter requested that any demolition of the rocket test stands, especially Coca, be deferred for as long as possible to maximize the chances of Monument designation.
NASA prepared a Record of Decision (ROD) For the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the demolition and cleanup activities at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). This ROD included a summary of the NEPA process completed and FEIS, public involvement in the decision making process, the alternatives considered, key environmental issues evaluated, statement of the decision made, and the basis for the decision.
The Programmatic Agreement (PA), an attachment to the ROD for the FEIS, starting at page 19 of the file, identifies measures to be taken for the protection and preservation of cultural resources during implementation of NASA’s Proposed Action. The PA is the culmination of two years of consultation with more than 35 consulting parties regarding the effects to historic properties resulting from the proposed actions for demolition and cleanup. It provides for the preservation of historic test stands through documentation and the potential retention of at least one test and control house. In addition, it minimizes impacts to archaeological sites where feasible and resolves adverse effects to Traditional Cultural Property through an ethnographic history and Native American Advisory Board and other mitigation measures.
In response to public concerns and questions about cleanup levels at SSFL, NASA published a white paper to assess the differences in general cleanup requirements between a background cleanup scenario (as outlined in the 2010 AOC), versus a risk-based cleanup scenario.
The FEIS presents an overview of the affected environment and the potential environmental consequences associated with proposed action to demolish existing structures and to remediate groundwater and soil on the NASA-administered property of SSFL and the no action alternative. It also informs NASA decision makers, regulating agencies, and the public of the potential environmental consequences of implementing the proposed demolition of SSFL site structures and the proposed groundwater and soil remediation.
In April 2013, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) wrote a letter to Simi Valley Mayor Robert Huber, citing no evidence of off-site contamination from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.
In 2013, the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an audit regarding NASA’s environmental remediation efforts at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The OIG review questioned whether a cleanup to background levels would the best use of limited NASA funds, as it exceeds the generally accepted standard necessary to protect human health and could cost more than twice the cost to clean the site to “residential” levels and more than eight times the cost to clean it to a “recreational” use standard. In addition, because cleanup to background levels may require highly invasive soil removal, there is a risk that such efforts would result in significant damage to the surrounding environment as well as to archeological, historical, and natural resources at the site. In its response to the report, NASA management pledged to work with local community stakeholders and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and local community stakeholders within the requirements of the 2010 Administrative Order of Consent (AOC).
NASA developed this DEIS to evaluate potential environmental impacts from its Proposed Action to conduct demolition activity and remediation of groundwater and soil on the NASA-administered property of SSFL.
NASA signed the Administrative Order of Consent (AOC), an agreement with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in 2010 that requires remediation by 2017 of the soils on the NASA-administered property at SSFL to local background values. When background values are not available, the soils will be remediated to laboratory reporting limits called Look up Table values.
In August 2007, NASA, Boeing, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and DTSC signed a Consent Order for Corrective Action (State of California DTSC Docket No. P3-07/08-003, 2007; referred to as the “2007 Consent Order”) that addressed the cleanup of soils and groundwater at SSFL. The 2007 Consent Order identified activities for the cleanup of soil and groundwater at SSFL.