Santa Susana Field Laboratory and Chatsworth Nature Preserve … by Alice B. Clagett

Published on 24 March 2018 

  • Image of Santa Susana Field Laboratory
  • Santa Susana Field Laboratory: Background Information
  • Which Way Was the Contaminated Wind Blowing During the July 1959 Santa Susana Field Laboratory Meltdown?
  • Metal Box in Chatsworth Nature Preserve: For Measuring Rain Water?
  • Rumors about LA Department of Water and Power Planning to Sell the Chatsworth Nature Preserve, East of the Meltdown Site
  • Back Road to Santa Susana Field Laboratory
  • News Reports

Dear Ones,

Here’s some information on the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) in the Los Angeles area. This laboratory was the site of a number of nuclear contamination accidents … to do with contamination of the air, the Earth, and ground water at the western edge of Los Angeles County, bordering the eastern edge of Ventura County. It has been spoken of as America’s worst nuclear meltdown.

The meltdown occurred in 1959, and was covered up. It looks like the nuclear disaster may have come to light in 1979, 20 years later, and that community involvement has been spurring environmental cleanup since then.

Image of Santa Susana Field Laboratory

This image is a view of Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) from Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve … trail access is from El Escorpion Park entrance on Vanowen St just west of Valley Circle Blvd in West Hills, in Los Angeles …

View of Santa Susana Field Lab from Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve, by Alice B. Clagett, 15 March 2018, CC BY-SA 4.0

Santa Susana Field Laboratory: Background Information

“Throughout the years, approximately ten low-power nuclear reactors operated at SSFL, in addition to several “critical facilities”: a sodium burn pit in which sodium-coated objects were burned in an open pit; a plutonium fuel fabrication facility; a uranium carbide fuel fabrication facility; and the purportedly largest “Hot Lab” facility in the United States at the time.[19] (A Hot Lab is a facility used for remotely cutting up irradiated nuclear fuel.) Irradiated nuclear fuel from other Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and Department of Energy (DOE) facilities from around the country were shipped to SSFL to be decladded and examined.

“The Hot Lab suffered a number of fires involving radioactive materials. For example, in 1957, a fire in the Hot Cell “got out of control and … massive contamination” resulted. (see: NAA-SR-1941, Sodium Graphite Reactor, Quarterly Progress Report, January–March 1957).

“At least four of the ten nuclear reactors suffered accidents: 1) The AE6 reactor experienced a release of fission gases in March 1959.[20] 2) In July 1959, the site suffered a partial nuclear meltdown that released 28 Curies of radio active Nobel gasses. The release resulted on the maximum off site exposure of 0.099 millirem and an exposure of 0.018 millirem for the nearest residential building which is well within current limits today. [21] Another radioactive fire occurred in 1971, involving combustible primary reactor coolant (NaK) contaminated with mixed fission products.[22][23] The SRE experienced a power excursion and partial meltdown in July 1959; the SNAP8ER in 1964 experienced damage to 80% of its fuel; and the SNAP8DR in 1969 experienced similar damage to one-third of its fuel.[24]

“The reactors located on the grounds of SSFL were considered experimental, and therefore had no containment structures. Reactors and highly radioactive components were housed without the large concrete domes that surround modern power reactors.”

— from “Santa Susana Field Laboratory,” in Wikipedia, … CC BY-SA 3.0 unported

Which Way Was the Contaminated Wind Blowing During the July 1959 Santa Susana Field Laboratory Meltdown?

Apparently, from what I’ve read, one of the owners of the property on which the laboratory is located has been unable to, or else unwilling to, release data on prevailing winds during the July 1959 meltdown. (See “Wrinkles in Runkle Canyon” article below). This would be important information, as the direction of the winds would give a clue to possible contamination of land and water and people in neighboring communities.

I’ve read here, that the prevailing winds tend to blow over the Simi Hills (where the Santa Susana Field Laboratory is located) from NW to SE, into the western part of the San Fernando Valley. The wind speed is about 8 mph. Then under special Santa Ana conditions, because the wind blows the other way, possibly into the well populated Simi Valley …

Link: “Which Way the Wind Blows,” by Michael Collins, Ventura County Reporter, 17 March 2005, ..

And I’ve read here, that John Pace, the last surviving worker who was on site during the meltdown, remembers the wind was blowing toward the very populous San Fernando Valley during that time …

Link: “Wrinkles in Runkle Canyon: 50 Years After a Santa Susana Nuclear Acdident Holds Up Land Development,” by Michael Collins, ..

Metal Box in Chatsworth Nature Preserve: For Measuring Rain Water?

I have questions about this metal box located at 8565 Capistrano Avenue, on the Chatsworth Nature Preserve grounds. In years past, Hazmat suited people have visited this box. When asked, one of these men told me they were measuring rainwater. If so, I wonder, why the Hazmat suits? I can’t figure it out.

Metal Box at 8565 Capistrano Avenue, Chatsworth Nature Preserve owned by LA Department of Water and Power, by Alice B. Clagett, 24 March 2018, CC BY-SA 4.0

Rumors about LA Department of Water and Power Planning to Sell the Chatsworth Nature Preserve, East of the Meltdown Site

There are rumors about plans for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to sell the Chatsworth Nature Preserve, which, according to the recollection of John Pace, might have been directly in the path of the 1959 Santa Susana Field Laboratory meltdown wind contamination. I haven’t seen any substantiation of this online.

News Reports

Link: “Nuclear Free by 2045?: TED’s Pro-Nuclear Bias,” 24 August 2009, with updates, ..

Link: “LA’s Nuclear Secret: Years of mishandling dangerous radioactive materials and chemicals has also left a toxic legacy for generations of people living near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory,” by Joel Grovere and Matthew Glasser, ..

LInk: “Boeing Proposes Less Stringent Cleanup of Santa Susana Field Lab, Outraging Activists,” by Mike Harris, Published 5:55 p.m. PT Aug. 23, 2017, Updated 5:00 p.m. PT Aug. 24, 2017, ..

Link: “Remembering Rocketdyne – Discussing America’s Worst Nuclear Meltdown (Not Three Mile Island) With Erin Brockovich,” in Enviro News California, ..


Back Road to Santa Susana Field Laboratory

For hikers: Here’s a back road from the Bell Canyon subdivision in West Hills, Los Angeles, to the Santa Susana Field Lab, The Google Maps search parameters are: 158 Bell Canyon Rd, Bell Canyon, CA 91307 … to 152 Ctl II Rd, Brandeis, CA 93064 … via Area 1 Rd …

Link: Bell Canyon Subdivision to Santa Susana Field Lab:,+Bell+Canyon,+CA/152+Ctl+II+Rd,+Brandeis,+CA+93064/@34.2220091,-118.6973612,6792m/am=t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m19!4m18!1m10!1m1!1s0x80e8279d7dfd3f83:0x6964a075d483cd52!2m2!1d-118.687357!2d34.20163!3m4!1m2!1d-118.6912303!2d34.2215645!3s0x80e8279361f29997:0x76d7793130101b75!1m5!1m1!1s0x80e827dedffa7fb3:0xadeab2018424cfdb!2m2!1d-118.7007632!2d34.2363838!3e0  ..

My feeling is, this route is most likely blocked off at the large turnaround at J & A International, as the Boeing property (priorly owned by Rocketdyne) on which the laboratory is located, is off limits to the public …

Link: Turnaround at J & A International, in Google Maps,,+Bell+Canyon,+CA/152+Ctl+II+Rd,+Brandeis,+CA+93064/@34.2141654,-118.6898359,243m/am=t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m19!4m18!1m10!1m1!1s0x80e8279d7dfd3f83:0x6964a075d483cd52!2m2!1d-118.687357!2d34.20163!3m4!1m2!1d-118.6912303!2d34.2215645!3s0x80e8279361f29997:0x76d7793130101b75!1m5!1m1!1s0x80e827dedffa7fb3:0xadeab2018424cfdb!2m2!1d-118.7007632!2d34.2363838!3e0 ..


In love, light and joy,
I Am of the Stars


What’s a ‘Rif’? A Rif is a stream-of-consciousness series of photos, words, and links. Sometimes a Rif throws light on a course of energy present in the unconscious thought cloud of the world, or the underpinnings of an astral story floating round in the ethers.

I’ve noticed that today’s movies and television shows do that as well … only with strong subconscious umph … because the subconscious mind operates through pictorial images, rather than through abstract thought. For more on this, search ‘metaphor’ at my website.


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Gaia, nuclear cleanup, nuclear hot spots, Santa Susana Field Laboratory, SSFL, Boeing, nature, Bell Canyon, Bell Canyon subdivision, social issues, Los Angeles, cities of Earth, Chatsworth Nature Preserve, Chatsworth Reservoir, LADWP, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, LA Department of Water and Power,

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