MSNBC to air “In the Dark of the Valley” featuring PSR-LA October 22, 2021

SSFL community member Jeni Knack collect samples for the. SSFL Woolsey Fire study. Credit: Janet Murphy

Congratulations PSR-Los Angeles! Associate Director Denise Duffield and PSR-LA President Dr. Bob Dodge are featured in an award-winning documentary about the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) near Los Angeles. MSNBC will air the film, “In the Dark of the Valley,” nationwide on Sunday, November 14 at 10:00 pm Eastern. PSR-LA also recently helped expose that counter to CalEPA claims, radioactivity migrated from SSFL during the 2018 Woolsey Fire.

A peer-reviewed study published by the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity found that radioactive contamination from SSFL migrated offsite during the 2018 Woolsey Fire. The study was conducted by Marco Kaltofen of the Dept. of Physics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Maggie and Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education. PSR-LA coordinated community volunteers to participate in the study, “who received training in sampling and safety protocol and collected samples of household dust, soil, and ash from areas near SSFL.” The study concluded that “the data show that Woolsey Fire ash did, in fact, spread SSFL-related radioactive microparticles” including “radioactive outliers found in Thousand Oaks, CA, and Simi Valley, CA, about 15 and 5 km distant from SSFL, respectively.” The findings contradict a widely criticized study from the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) which claimed no contamination was released.

PSR-LA Policy Researcher Mikey Rincon and community member Jeni Knack collect samples for SSFL Woolsey Fire study. Credit: Janet Murphy

Soon after the study was announced, Congressmembers Sherman, Brownley, Correa, and Napolitano and Senator Padilla sent a letter to the California EPA urging the agency to enforce  cleanup agreements that require SSFL to be fully cleaned up. They noted the importance of doing this swiftly due to the “the potential significant health and safety risks for people who will continue to live nearby and those who will be using the site in future years.” A second letter was also sent to the CalEPA by local officials, expressing “strong concerns about ongoing delays in the clean-up of this highly contaminated toxic waste site,” and urging a prompt cleanup.

Map of Approximate Sampling Sites - Click to Enlarge
Map of Approximate Sampling Sites - Click to Enlarge

PSR-LA’s work on the SSFL cleanup has attracted local and national media attention. Dr. Dodge was featured in an NBC LA segment, “Radioactive Waste Fell On Some LA-Area Neighborhoods During 2018 Woolsey Fire, New Study Shows.” PSR-LA Associate Director Denise Duffield and Dr. Dodge are prominently featured in MSNBC’s newly acquired documentary “In the Dark of the Valley”. The film tells the story of families whose children were diagnosed with rare cancers that they believe are related to SSFL and their fight to get the site fully cleaned up.

We commend PSR-LA for their decades-long efforts on the SSFL cleanup and hope that the documentary will bring much needed awareness to the public health impacts of nuclear contamination at SSFL and other nuclear sites throughout the country.

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