Environment and Health
Some stakeholders have expressed concern about how the SSFL environment and human health. They ask what DOE is doing to protect past, present, and future workers; whether and how DOE is monitoring and protecting the SSFL and surrounding environment; and what DOE has done to examine human health effects in the surrounding population. In addition, protecting the environment and history of Area IV at Santa Susana Field Laboratory is a key goal during the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) studies and cleanup of contamination there. Use the links below to learn about:
DOE protects workers through its safety programs. These programs are designed to ensure that DOE employees and contractors work in a safe environment. Former workers may claim compensation and benefits under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA).
The DOE has conducted monitoring and sampling of the soils, air, and water within and surrounding the ETEC facility since the mid 1950s. The purpose of these studies is to maintain an ongoing record of environmental conditions and, more recently, to characterize the environmental conditions at ETEC and the surrounding community for purposes of site cleanup and closure.
Several entities, including government and private parties, have studied the potential impacts to the surrounding community from past operations conducted at the ETEC facility. These studies include offsite sampling, exposure assessments, and community health studies.
Ionizing radiation, like other toxic hazards, has detrimental health effects, including cancer, at high doses and high dose rates. There is however, considerable controversy regarding the health effects of low-level radiation, at or below typical natural background levels.
Biological studies identify threatened and endangered plant and animal species that may be located at the site so that scientists and technicians can avoid damage to the environment while they study potential contamination in the area.
Cultural studies identify historical artifacts and other features at the site so that they can be protected during studies and cleanup.
The findings in these studies are taken into consideration in two crucial ways:
- As a part of work plans and actual procedures for studies of contamination at the site
- As a part of evaluations of potential environmental impacts when scientists develop options for cleanup of contamination. These potential impacts will be included in documents such as the (federally-mandated) Environmental Impact Statement.