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DOE SAYS RADIATION AT FIELD LAB NO THREAT.

Byline: Ryan Oliver Staff Writer

The Department of Energy assured Simi Valley residents Thursday night that newly discovered levels of high radiation in groundwater at the Santa Susana Field Lab where nuclear reactors were tested beginning in the late 1940s do not appear to be a threat.

The contaminated groundwater was found by scientists last month.

Roger Gee of the Department of Energy said that despite extensive testing over the years, a new testing well detected high levels of tritium - a nuclear waste byproduct. But he said the water is not used for any drinking or irrigation supplies and appears to be contained to a small area.

``There's no health risk where we found it,'' Gee said.

Groundwater samples taken in March show tritium at 80,000 picocuries per liter, or four times the national drinking water limit. The contamination was caused by nuclear research conducted at the lab.

Several hundred residents showed up for the public hearing, with many concerned that the pollution could eventually shift and create a public health hazard.

``There's all sort of pollution out there,'' said Chatsworth resident Gwen Heomoda. ``But it seems to be the DOE is making steady progress. They're not here to try and hide what they're finding.''

Simi Valley resident Marc Blocksage, 19, who lives near several of the polluted sites and developed an unexplained tumor in his neck when he was 16, along with one of this neighbors, said he came to the meeting to see what the DOE had to say. He said the department's upfront information and use of maps and charts putting out well sites was a big improvement over recent years.

``They've been up front, but there's still a lot of stuff up there,'' Blocksage said.

Ryan Oliver, (818) 713-3669

ryan.oliver(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 4, 2004
Words:299
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