(WORK IN PROGRESS) The Santa Susana Field Lab Timeline

the Early Years

  • 1947 North American Aviation (NAA) selects the site for the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) in the hills of Simi Valley.

  • 1950 The first American designed and built rocket engine was tested at the lab.

  • 1953 NAA establishes Area IV at SSFL for nuclear research

  • 1955 Rocketdyne, a new division of NAA, is assigned responsibility for Areas I-III and Atomics International, a division of NAA, was responsible for area IV’s nuclear activities.

  • July 12, 1957 The Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE), the nation’s first civilian nuclear power plant, goes online under the supervision of the Atomic Energy Commission.

radioactive and chemical accidents

  • March 25, 1959 Accidental release of radiation from the AE-6 nuclear reactor inside the reactor room contaminates the room and several employees.

  • July 12,1959 The SRE experiences a partial meltdown, releasing radioactive contamination into the environment.

  • Aug 25, 1959 The Atomic Energy Commission issues a press release about the SRE accident, claiming that no release of radioactive material occurred.

  • Sept. 1, 1960 The SRE nuclear reactor is brought back online after the meltdown with a new reactor core.

  • Feb. 1, 1964 The SRE nuclear reactor is shut down for good.

  • Nov. 1, 1964 The SNAP8ER experimental nuclear reactor experiences damage to 80% of its radioactive fuel.

  • 1967 NAA merges with Rockwell Standard to become North American Rockwell

  • July 16, 1969 Apollo 11 heads to the moon with an engine constructed and tested at the Field Lab.

  • Dec. 1, 1969 The SNAP8DR experimental nuclear reactor experiences damage to a third of its radioactive fuel.

  • May 19, 1971 A fire in a decontamination room leads to radioactive contamination being released.

  • 1973 North American Rockwell changes its name to Rockwell International (Atomics International and Rocketdyne continue to exist as separate divisions.)

  • 1973 NASA begins operations at the SSFL after acquiring land from the Air Force.

  • Nov. 1979 KNBC-TV reveals the partial meltdown at the Field Lab.

  • 1988 Most nuclear research programs and operations end at SSFL

  • 1989 Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition (RCC) founded

    • Renewal of Hot Lab license stopped due to the RCC’s advocacy

  • May 1, 1989 A Dept. of Energy study finds radioactive and chemical contamination at SSFL.

  • Jan 1, 1990 Research and testing stopped at SSFL. (Really? I thought it went to 2006)

  • July 26,1994 Rocket fuel explosion kills 2 scientists at the lab.

  • 1995 Brandies-Bardien, where the popular Jewish Summer camp resides, sued Boeing for contaminating their water and land with contamination and settled for $3,000,000. However, the camp did not relocate and now claims it is totally safe for children, though no cleanup has occured on the camp or on the lab site.

  • Dec 1, 1996 Rockwell International sells aerospace division to Boeing including SSFL.

  • 2006 Rocketdyne is sold to Pratt-Whitney, Boeing retains ownership of SSFL

the cleanup

The Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition protesting the illegal removal of soil from the SSFL to Button Willow

The Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition protesting the illegal removal of soil from the SSFL to Button Willow


items to research and add

  • Other nuclear and chemical accidents

    • t re washing vege

    • Chandler tarp reassignment

    • Worker studies

    • Health studies

    • Advisory panel

    • 2007 consent order 

    • Brandeis

    • Ahmanson

    • Dayton

    • Runkle

    • 2004 LA, NRDC, City lawsuit

    • Superfund listing

    • Retinoblastomas

    • Linda Adams

    • SB 990 stip

    • Debbie Raphael

    • Brausch removed

    • Greenwashing campaign revealed

    • WG cancelled, CAG established

    • NASA EIS - public scoping, draft eis, final, recent GI report

    • Barbara Lee roadmap to confirmation, people’s senate stuff

    • DOE EIS - public scoping, draft eis, final - letters opposing final from DTSC, NGOs, electeds

    • DTSC EIR - public scoping, draft

    • Boeing reassurances to residential 

    • Boeing open space

    • Parents v SSFL

    • City Los Angeles Motion for $600K for legal council of DOE breaks AOC
      Von Braun

    • Boeing’s cleanup & lawsuit- 1000s of tons of low-rad waste sent for recycling instead of proper disposal.


  • Von Braun