Woolsey Fire Fallout – 60 Year-Old Meltdown Rides Again

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Prevailing wind patterns carried smoke from recent CA fires across the country.  Fallout from a nuclear reactor or radioactive waste storage accident at San Onofre or Diablo Canyon in CA could follow a similar path. – Image adapted from a NOAA animation.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

The recent disastrous Woolsey Fire just north of L.A. started near a Southern California Edison electrical substation adjacent to the site of America’s first  – and possibly worst – nuclear reactor meltdown at Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) in 1959.  Ironically, the company that operated that faulty experimental reactor whose secret  meltdown spread deadly radioactive fallout across the surrounding population, was…Southern California Edison.

The radioactivity from that 1959 event, together with toxic chemical pollution from extensive rocket testing at the site was absorbed into the local soil, vegetation and structures.  Radioactive and toxic contaminants were then re-released by the Woolsey fire into smoke that NOAA maps show traveled around the region, up and down the coast and then across the nation as far away as New York. 

It was a graphic illustration of how a nuclear disaster on the West Coast can impact the whole country.

For 30 years thousands of nearby residents have demanded cleanup of the 2,849-acre Santa Susana site currently owned by Boeing to prevent ongoing disasters like the recent fire.  Boeing refuses to cleanup saying there’s no problem.

In the following videos journalist Harvey Wasserman and Denise Duffield, Associate Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility- L.A. discuss the implications of the Woolsey Fire with regional residents in these excerpts from the December 2018 meeting of Americans for Democratic Action – Southern California, in Culver City.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 – Q&A

Fairewinds Energy Education is collecting dust and air filter samples from local citizens to be analyzed for radioactive contamination.  Citizens are invited to learn how to submit samples for analysis.

For more information:

After The Dust Settles:  A Woolsey Fire Sampling Update
By Arnie Gundersen – Fairewinds Energy Education

Critique of DTSC “Interim Summary” of Woolsey Fire 12 – 18 – 18 PDF
Prepared by Daniel Hirsch, the retired Director of the Program on Environmental and Nuclear Policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and President of the Committee to Bridge the Gap.




Denise Duffield  PSR-LA Associate Director dduffield@psr-la.org

Legacy of a Meltdown  – By James Heddle & Mary Beth Brangan – EON

Watch Smoke From CA Fires Disperse Over U.S.  NOAA Animation