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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

State EPA to Open Probe Into Rocketdyne Health Studies

April 29, 1999|COLL METCALFE

SIMI VALLEY — The state's Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday it will launch an investigation into whether officials at Rocketdyne and the Department of Health Services conspired to suppress health studies and dissolve a citizens advisory panel.

It is the third investigation opened in as many days after internal department memorandums were released that some contend show the department buried a 1997 cancer survey and worked with Rocketdyne to dissolve a committee overseeing health studies and cleanup of the company's Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

Both the department and Rocketdyne have steadfastly denied the allegations.

Earlier this week, department officials said they will appoint an outside auditing agency to investigate the department's involvement with the aerospace facility.

Assemblyman Scott Wildman (D-Glendale), chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, announced he will look into the allegations as part of a broader probe into the department.

The state EPA's decision came after the release of several internal department documents by Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica).

She says the documents show the department suppressed the survey, which showed a 15% higher lung cancer rate, and conspired with Rocketdyne to dissolve the citizens' committee.

The assemblywoman has urged Gov. Gray Davis and state Secretary of Health and Human Services Grantland Johnson to fire department officials in charge of the Rocketdyne case.

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