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Kuehl Opposes Panel Seat for Rocketdyne

May 28, 1999|COLL METCALFE

SIMI VALLEY — In a strongly worded letter, Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) is objecting to Rocketdyne's inclusion on a committee looking into contamination at the defense contractor's Santa Susana Field Laboratory near Simi Valley.

Kuehl said in a letter to Felicia Marcus, regional director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that because Rocketdyne is the subject of the committee's inquiry it should not be included on the panel, known as the inter-agency working group.

"The company that created the contamination and whose remediation efforts are being overseen should not be involved in its own oversight," wrote Kuehl, who has recently emerged as one of the most vocal critics of Rocketdyne. She recently released documents that she says indicate Rocketdyne may have tried to influence the direction of a worker health study at the facility.

"[Including them] would be extraordinarily inappropriate and would only result in the further loss of confidence by the public in the independence of the regulatory oversight," according to the letter.

Rocketdyne officials say they should be included on the panel. "It makes good sense for us to be on this working group," said Rocketdyne spokesman Dan Beck. "It's our site, these are our neighbors, and to exclude us in this process is taking a passive role which won't accomplish much and doesn't make sense."

EPA officials were unavailable for comment Thursday.

Last month, Gov. Gray Davis removed the state Department of Health Services from overseeing the panel and put it under the state EPA.

The working group is expected to begin studying the health of neighbors of the sprawling Rocketdyne complex, which was for decades a site of nuclear and chemical testing.

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