Sunday, April 1, 2007

Its not just known for the Spahn Ranch.

Chernobyl in the Ukraine, Windscale in the UK, and... the Santa Susana Field Lab in California. Those incidents are the top three releasers of radioactive iodine in nuclear power history. But number three slipped largely under the radar.
The Boeing-Rocketdyne Nuclear Facility, also referred to as the Santa Susana Field Lab, is located about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, near the Simi Valley area. And in 1959, a clogged coolant channel in a 20-megawatt nuclear reactor lead to the melting of 30 percent of the fuel elements in the reactor core.

Iodine-131 – that is, radioactive iodine – was released in doses estimated up to 100 times that of Three Mile Island, enough to cause various types of cancers and thyroid abnormalities, particularly in children under the age of 15. And while radioactive iodine only has an eight day half life, that's more than enough time to get into the local dairy cows and contaminate the milk supply.

The facility also released many other radioactive materials, as well as other toxic chemicals, over a period of years. After an eight-year-long court battle, more than 100 local residents reached a settlement with Boeing-Rocketdyne.The Former Sodium Reactor Experiment Containment Building where the 1959 meltdown occurred. (Courtesy of DOE)


Luke said...

My personal connection to this stuff:

1) My dad was an engineer at Rocketdyne, but he started working "on the hill" well after this accident (before that, he worked on the Canoga Park facility). I've been to the facility on field trips and on family days. I liked Rocketdyne Park (at the end of Fallbrook) more.

2) In 1998, my aunt and uncle were in a car accident in Chatsworth. It was during a heavy rainstorm, and they couldn't see that the earth bridge ahead of them had washed out. They were in there sixties at the time, and managed to escape from the car, climb up the embankment, and hours later signal for help. Their friend Frank Retz, who had constructed the bridge without city permits, was killed in the accident.

What does all that have to do with your post? Frank Retz owned part of the Spahn Ranch in 1969 (he eventually owned all of it), and had face-to-face contact with Good ol' Charlie Manson- mainly to tell Manson and his followers to leave.

Therefore, my Six Degrees of Manson are:
my aunt & uncle-
frank retz-


The weird thing about this is I didn't know most of this story until a week ago, when I Googled my aunt's name after her memorial service (she died a couple of weeks ago of cancer).

Gavin Elster said...

holy cow!