Throughout 2023, NASA continued to make headway toward cleanup of its portion of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). The 2023 Year in Review describes activities in the areas of groundwater and soil cleanup, demolition, and cultural resources management. NASA looks forward to a new year of significant progress as we move closer toward our goal of achieving a cleanup that is protective of the community and the natural environment.
The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), in coordination with NASA, Boeing, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), has invited the public to participate in an online listening session to prepare for the upcoming Groundwater U (Groundwater University) workshop series focused on groundwater at SSFL. The Listening Session will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 23. Interested stakeholders will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide input about the upcoming Groundwater U Workshops.
NASA is committed to protecting human health and the environment in all activities and is implementing an agency-wide initiative to identify past uses and possible source locations of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) at NASA centers and associated facilities, including the SSFL. Currently, PFAS are classified as unregulated or “emerging” contaminants, which have no federal or state of California regulatory standards or routine water quality testing requirements. PFAS have been used in hundreds of industrial and commercial products since the 1950s, including nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, consumer packaging, and some firefighting foams. Due to their widespread use in everyday products, PFAS chemicals are prevalent in the environment.
As part of the agency’s forward-leaning approach, NASA conducted a Preliminary Assessment (PA) at SSFL in 2021, which identified areas where potential PFAS releases may have occurred. In 2022, NASA began a Site Investigation (SI) to determine the presence or absence of PFAS in soil and groundwater in or near the areas of potential concern that were identified in the PA. None of the surface or subsurface soil samples exceeded EPA screening levels for residential soil exposure scenario. Some groundwater samples within six historically active operational locations areas exceeded EPA screening levels for a residential tap (drinking) water exposure scenario. Most of the screening level exceedances are minor, localized, and consistent with limited historical use of PFAS in some NASA areas. The groundwater beneath SSFL is not used for drinking water and there is no indication that PFAS are migrating in groundwater beyond the NASA property lines. Consistent with the agency-wide approach, NASA will conduct additional groundwater sampling to further understand the nature and extent of PFAS in NASA areas. NASA has shared the results of SI with DTSC and will continue to monitor the federal and State of California PFAS regulatory status and will implement regulatory requirements and protective measures as necessary.
The latest edition of NASA's FieldNOTE Newsletter is now available for review. This edition provides an update on NASA’s progress with Coca demolition, and update on the status of development of NASA’s groundwater cleanup plans, NASA’s onsite Bedrock Vapor Extraction (BVE) treatability study, NASA’s planned evaluation of soil backfill options and lab capabilities, and brush-clearing preparations for wildfire season.
These photos show the progress of the Phase 5 demolition activities between 2021 and 2022.
As part of the Agency's continuing effort to address cleanup of groundwater under the 2007 Order for Corrective Action, NASA has kicked off its pilot study to test the effectiveness of bedrock vapor extraction (BVE) to clean up contamination in the underlying bedrock matrix beneath the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. Please view the BVE fact sheet to learn more about the pilot study, including how BVE works, and how the SSFL BVE system's design utilizes the Agency's green engineering and sustainability practices.
NASA continues to make progress with its demolition program at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), a critical part of the Agency’s preparations for final cleanup. This month, the Agency is moving into the first of three phases planned for the dismantling and removal the Coca Test Stands and Control House over the next three years.
The Coca Test Stands are the last of the four remaining test stands currently slated for demolition. In 2020, NASA announced it would preserve and retain the two Alfa Test Stands and Control house and proceed with the demolition of structures in the Bravo and Coca Test Areas in accordance with the 2014 Programmatic Agreement , ending a 2015 deferral of the demolition of test stands. NASA completed demolition of the Bravo Test Area in 2022.
Pre-demolition is now underway, and field crews have mobilized to complete biological surveys, conduct abatement activities, and make other preparations to ensure demolition activities are protective of workers, the public, and the site’s important cultural and biological resources.
NASA’s top priority at SSFL, including for demolition, is the health and safety of the community and our field teams. All demolition activities are conducted in accordance with NASA’s Demolition Standard Operating Procedures, approved by DTSC in 2011, the 2014 NASA Record of Decision for Demolition , and all applicable state and federal regulations and requirements.
The Coca Test Stands supported historic space exploration programs such as the 1960s Apollo Program that sent astronauts to the moon, as well as the Space Shuttle Program in the 1980s. NASA recognizes the role the Coca Test Stands played in these historic achievements and the Agency has identified several artifacts from within the test stands and control house that will be retained for historic preservation. You can sign up to receive notifications about demolition and other NASA SSFL updates by subscribing to our NASA SSFL Communications E-List.
NASA has published its latest edition of the FieldNOTE Newsletter for NASA’s cleanup activities at Santa Susana. This Spring/Summer 2022 newsletter provides an update on NASA’s progress with demolition, ongoing work on two groundwater pilot studies, and NASA’s agency-wide effort to investigate Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) at NASA centers and facilities.
NASA is making progress toward the cleanup of groundwater in NASA areas at SSFL in line with the 2007 Consent Order. For an update on NASA’s efforts, including next steps, please view our infographic on Cleaning up Groundwater at the Santa Susana Field Lab.
NASA is committed to protecting human health and the environment in all of its activities and has initiated an agency-wide investigation to identify potential Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) at NASA centers and associated facilities. As part of that effort, NASA conducted a Preliminary Assessment (PA) for PFAS at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (PFAS) . Consistent with its agency-wide approach, the PA documents NASA's evaluation of areas of potential concern for historical use, storage, and disposal of PFAS within NASA-administered areas at SSFL. Later this month, NASA will begin fieldwork to collect soil and groundwater samples as part of a Site Inspection (SI) to determine the presence or absence of PFAS in the areas of potential concern identified in the PA.