Sweetheart Deal Negotiated Behind Closed Doors Violates CEQA Mandates
Thursday, October 6, 2022
Jeff Ruch, PEER, [email protected] (510) 213-7028
Melissa Bumstead, Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab [email protected] (818) 233-0642
Denise Duffield, Physicians for Social Responsibility, [email protected] (310) 339-9766
Lawrence Yee [email protected]
Oakland — The Newsom administration’s backroom deal with the Boeing Co. to dramatically weaken cleanup standards at the profoundly polluted Santa Susana Field Laboratory violates the public involvement and transparency requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), charges a lawsuit filed today by community and public health groups. The suit would open the cleanup agreement to public scrutiny and force the state agencies and the Boeing Co. to justify a cleanup methodology that leaves 90% of the contamination onsite.
Filed today in Ventura County Superior Court by Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab, Physicians for Social Responsibility (LA Chapter), and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the suit would, if successful, vacate both the cleanup agreement and an accompanying promise to free Boeing from toxic stormwater discharge requirements.
“This suit does not prevent cleanup from beginning immediately but instead aims to ensure it continues until it is fully completed,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, noting that under a prior Consent Order, the cleanup was supposed to have been completed back in 2017. “This lawsuit is about having this cleanup done right and well beyond the outrageous ‘rip and skip’ deal that Boeing wrangled behind closed doors.”
After repeatedly promising to enforce a 2007 legally binding cleanup agreement with Boeing, the Newsom administration secretly negotiated an 800-page agreement that “supersedes” the prior order by substantially relaxing key cleanup requirements, allowing hundreds of times higher levels of toxic chemicals than previously permitted, and leaving much of the contamination onsite.
“Because my daughter has fought cancer twice, I know firsthand why a complete cleanup is needed to protect our children,” said Melissa Bumstead, President of Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab, representing families afflicted with diseases associated with contaminants at that site. “Our kids deserve to grow up safe from the daily threat of exposure to toxic and carcinogenic contamination. Their health and quality of life matter more than Boeing’s profit.”
The deal is so bad that Lawrence Yee, who had been Chair of the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board, testified against it as a private citizen. He is joining with the groups advocating for a full cleanup at Santa Susana.
“The Boeing agreement will put surrounding communities at a perpetual risk of exposure to harmful contamination. We owe it to current and future generations to ensure that all of the contamination is cleaned up as promised,” added Dr. Robert Dodge, President of PSR-LA. “It is a shocking betrayal by the Newsom Administration and yet another example of why there is such little public confidence in California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control.”
The groups are represented in this litigation by the Oakland-based law firm LozeauDrury LLP.