The 2,850-acre Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) is located in California’s Simi Hills in Ventura County, roughly 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The facility opened in 1948 and is divided into four administrative areas and two areas of undeveloped land. Area II and a 41.7-acre portion of Area I are owned by the U.S. government and administered by NASA. The rest of Area I and all of Areas III, IV and the undeveloped lands, are owned and operated by the Boeing Company. DOE leased a portion of Area IV for energy research.
Area II was used for research, development and testing of rocket engines associated with the Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs through the 1980s. Some of the historic operations resulted in the release of chemicals into the environment. NASA continues to make progress preparing for a final, comprehensive cleanup of Area II and its Area I parcel. NASA also is working cooperatively with the Boeing Company and the Department of Energy (DOE) as they conduct cleanup in areas they own, as well as the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the regulatory agency overseeing the cleanup.
In August 2007, NASA, Boeing, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and DTSC signed a Consent Order for Corrective Action that addressed the cleanup of soils and groundwater at SSFL. Subsequently, in December 2010, NASA entered into an agreement with DTSC known as an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC), prescribing NASA activities and deadlines for the environmental remediation of the property. The AOC requires NASA to clean up soils to Look-up Table values established by DTSC in 2013.
NASA has completed its soil investigation to understand the nature and extent of soil contamination in NASA areas at SSFL. In 2020, NASA issued a Record of Decision for soil cleanup. NASA is working with DTSC technical team to resolve the technical challenges associated with the AOC so that a final, comprehensive cleanup can begin as soon as the State finalizes the Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) and issues a decision document.
In the meantime, NASA is analyzing results from treatability studies to assess treatment in place (also known as in situ treatment) technologies, and other methods to achieve cleanup. NASA looks forward to moving ahead with final cleanup activities as soon as the state issues its decision document.