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‘No Radiation’ at Nuclear Testing Site Where Fire Started, Two Health Agencies Say

A view of the entrance to the Rocketdyne site/Via Google Maps.

[dropcap size=big]N[/dropcap]o dangerous levels of radiation were found in initial tests done around the Santa Susana former nuclear testing facility in the Simi Hills, state and local health officials said on Tuesday.

The word came after residents and physicians raised alarm over the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and its role in the Woolsey Fire, which started on Nov. 8. Activists who’ve long warned about potential illnesses associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals from Santa Susana raised concerns on social-media almost hours after the fire started. They claimed if fire overtook the potentially dangerous contaminated zone at the site, toxic ash could be carried by the fire's smoke

Today, the Department of Toxic Substance Control followed-up on an earlier statement and reiterated that there are “no radiation levels above background levels” at the facility. The DTSC said it would conduct more tests “out of an abundance of caution.”

The department added that while some terrain at the Santa Susana facility burned, the area that formerly held hazardous nuclear waste did not.

In a separate statement, the L.A. County Department of Public Health said it also sent teams to test the air around the site. “Public Health officials traveled to the facility and performed nuclide identification, collected air samples, and operated multiple radiation detection units,” the county said. “There was no discernible level of radiation in the tested area.”

RELATED: Photos from the Fire's Devastation in Malibu

The Woolsey fire as of 5 pm, Nov. 13.
The Woolsey fire as of 5 pm, Nov. 13.

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he Woolsey Fire is one of three active fires in the state, which have so far claimed dozens of lives in Northern California. Two people have died in the fire in Ventura and L.A. counties. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated.

The blaze ignited in the vicinity of a SoCal Edison substation on the Santa Susana testing site’s grounds, initial reports say. The substation is now the focus of the fire investigation because it reported a problem two minutes before the first call came in about a fire that would become the Woolsey Fire.

An internal incident report that was filed with the utility made the connection as the fire began spreading. “The Woolsey Fire was reported at approximately 2:24 p.m. Our information reflects the Big Rock 16 kV circuit out of Chatsworth Substation relayed at 2:22 p.m.,” the report states. “Our personnel have not accessed the area to assess our facilities in the vicinity of where the fire reportedly began.”

Concerned residents with long-help suspicions on the DTSC rejected its claims, saying they’d like to see data sets on the testing done this week, and a breakdown of the type of testing that was conducted. “My response is show us the data,” said Denise Duffield, of the Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles.

RELATED: Woolsey Fire Tore Through a Nuclear Testing Site ~ Doctors Sound Alarm on Possible Air Contamination

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