Firefighter testing urged

December 28, 2019

first_imgSIMI VALLEY – The Ventura County firefighters union is recommending that members who fought last year’s Topanga brush fire near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory get medical tests because of possible exposure to toxins. Although a preliminary investigation hasn’t turned up health problems connected to last year’s firefighting at the old Rocketdyne site now operated by Boeing Co., the area is a concern because of its history, union officials said. The field lab has been operating since the 1950s, when it contracted with the U.S. Department of Defense to conduct nuclear research. The company also contracted with NASA and the Department of Defense for research and rocket-engine testing. The site is now under a federally ordered environmental cleanup, and contaminants found in the lab soil and in wastewater ponds on the property have included dioxins, heavy metals and mercury. “As firefighters, we take a lot of unknown exposures over the years,” he said. ” … We’re constantly on guard to protect ourselves.” Boeing spokeswoman Inger Hodgson said her company has been cooperating with Fire Department efforts to evaluate the situation and was grateful for the work of all the firefighters. “Our personnel worked closely with them and supported their efforts,” she said. “We worked closely during and after the fire to provide the Fire Department with information about the site and contents of the buildings involved.” She said 10 buildings on the field lab property were damaged in the fire, including seven that were destroyed. But buildings containing hazardous or radioactive materials remained safe and secure. Earlier this year, Boeing settled a lawsuit filed by residents of the San Fernando and Simi valleys who say they were sickened by toxins released at the lab for $30 million, though the company denied any responsibility. Eric Leach, (805) 583-7602 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card “We are recommending that our members (who fought flames near the lab) have the general medical tests that they would get in their annual physical exams,” said Capt. Chris Mahon, president of the Ventura County Professional Firefighters Association. “If we become aware that they may have been exposed to a particular hazardous substance, we would ask that they be tested specifically for that.” So far, there have been no reports from members of any specific symptoms, he said. “The problem with these things is these types of exposures can show up 10 or more years later,” Mahon said. The fire burned more than about 24,000 acres around the field lab and across the Simi Hills after it broke out Sept. 28 near the Santa Susana Pass and the Ronald Reagan Freeway. Mahon said an investigation to determine possible hazards was conducted by firefighters and other officials from agencies in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. last_img

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