[Photo Credit: EnviroReporter.com]
Even though house prices are in a free fall, there is still a housing shortage in the L.A. area. Developers continue to build and build some more. Developers KB Homes and Lennar plan to build hundreds of homes in the Runkle Canyon area of Simi Valley. This is just hop, skip, and a jump from the site of the worst nuclear disaster in American history. The L.A. City Beat has a interesting story about the development and the efforts that the normally pro-development Republicans of Simi Valley are making to halt or curtail the construction of the homes.
You may wonder what the concern is. In short, that’s some nastiness up in there, and residents aren't so convinced that the land is safe:
The partnership began purchasing Runkle in parcels in mid-2005 and plans to start construction by the end of the year on 140 acres of the 1,595-acre former ranch, building 461 homes, single-family estates, and apartments.
With construction imminent, concern is growing over Runkle Canyon’s proximity to the nuclear test area of SSFL, part of which empties into an 11-acre drainage that flows into the broad picturesque gorge. Runkle Canyon has repeatedly tested high for the leukemia-causing radionuclide strontium-90 (Sr-90), which residents contend came from Rocketdyne. In 1999, a lab hired by a former developer sampled Runkle dirt and found that it averaged six times the Environmental Protection Agency’s “preliminary remediation goal” for Sr-90, a level that is presumed safe for residential development, and nearly 46 times above the typical EPA background level for strontium-90 in the area. The highest Sr-90 reading of the 58 samples taken was over 411 times higher than normal background.
In the grading and construction process, over 100 tons of potentially Sr-90-impacted dust would be launched into the atmosphere and fall out over the Simi and San Fernando valleys, as reported previously by CityBeat and ValleyBeat (“Neighborhood Threat,” March 10, 2005). The California Department of Health Services re-tested five soil samples from Runkle Canyon on June 7, 2005, and once again found that, despite testing irregularities, the land was still reading high for Sr-90 (see our story “Hot Property,” January 19, 2006).We give the opposition some credit for ingenuity. They’ve hired a blimp to fly over the area and take photographs. Whatever happens, we know where we won’t be looking for our next home.
· The Hills Have Eyes [L.A. City Beat]