2009 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 2009 09:22:17 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] RADIATION, HEALTH: Rocketdyne (CA) meltdown 50 years later
Marking the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. nuclear meltdown
A reactor in Chatsworth began leaking radioactive gas on July 14, 1959. Some area residents blame the facility for their health issues and say the site remains contaminated.

By Louis Sahagun
Los Angeles Times
July 13, 2009

On the morning of July 14, 1959, Sodium Reactor Experiment trainee John Pace received the bad news from a group of supervisors who had, he recalled, "terribly worried expressions on their faces."

A reactor at the Atomics International field laboratory in the Santa Susana Mountains had experienced a power surge the night before and spewed radioactive gases into the atmosphere.

"They were terrified that some of the gas had blown over their own San Fernando Valley homes," recalled Pace, who was 20 at the time. "My job was to keep radiation out of the control room."

Pace set to work sealing doors and windows with clear packing tape and scrubbing the walls with sanitary napkins soaked with special chemicals because, he said, "soap and water wouldn't do the trick."

Today, on the 50th anniversary of America's first nuclear meltdown accident, Pace will join federal regulators and former lab workers in a commemorative gathering at the Aerospace Cancer Museum of Education in Chatsworth.


For the entire article, see


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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