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SIMI VALLEY | East Ventura County Focus

Rocketdyne Health Study Is Extended

November 15, 1996|MACK REED

A controversial report on the health of Rocketdyne workers due out next month has been postponed until April so UCLA scientists can do more research, an environmental activist group said Thursday.

The Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition has been pressing for UCLA to release the final draft of the long-awaited report by the original Dec. 6 deadline, said Daniel Hirsch, the group's chief spokesman.

But the California Department of Health Services, which is overseeing the report, last week granted the researchers permission to spend more time studying the effects of radiation research on the rate of cancer cases of 5,000 past and present Rocketdyne employees, Hirsch said.

Rocketdyne operated 16 small nuclear reactors and a "hot lab" for handling radioactive fuel between the 1950s and 1980s before shutting them down at its 2,668-acre Santa Susana Field Laboratory between Simi Valley and Canoga Park.

The company is working to clean up cesium, tritium and other radioactive elements that leaked into the water and ground beneath the research site.

UCLA and Health Department officials could not be reached Thursday for comment on their reasons for the delay.

And Hirsch and other coalition members, who sit on a citizens advisory panel overseeing the study, declined to say exactly what the extra research entails because they have signed promises not to discuss the current draft of the report until it is finalized and released to the public.

Barbara Johnson, a coalition member who sits on the advisory panel and lives just downhill from the field lab, said: "This was not the decision of the advisory panel. . . . We did not want it delayed until April. This needs to get out now."

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