Court denies Boeing request to dispose of radioactive debris without agency oversight

On January 5, 2015 the Sacramento Superior Court of California denied Boeing’s motion to summarily grant judgment for them and allow them to dispose of radioactive waste from dismantlement of contaminated SSFL buildings wherever they chose, and without getting approval from state agencies.Click here to read the court’s ruling.

The lawsuit was brought by Strumwasser and Woocher in July 2013 on behalf of and Consumer Watchdog, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Committee to Bridge the Gap, and the Southern California Federation of Scientists. It charged that the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) failed to perform required environmental review for the demolition of Boeing-owned structures at Area IV prior to authorizing their demolition and disposal. Some debris from these structures was found to be radioactively contaminated and had already been disposed in municipal landfills, hazardous waste landfills like Buttonwillow in Kern County, and at metal, concrete, and asphalt recycling facilities.

In December 2013, the court granted a preliminary injunction against DTSC pending final outcome of the lawsuit. Boeing subsequently moved for a summary judgment, arguing that it had send a letter to DTSC in March 2014 which rescinded all its prior requests for approval to demolish its contaminated buildings, and would not in the future ask for agency permission, purportedly making the case moot.

The court disagreed, stating that Boeing failed to demonstrate that it did not need DTSC’s approval to demolish it’s buildings, and that the matter was of great public interest. The ruling continued that, “Boeing concludes it has rendered the question of DTSC’s approval moot. But this is not Boeing’s decision to make, much less by unilateral action. This issue will be decided when the court rules on the merits of Petitioners’ claims.”

For more information, click here to view a PowerPoint presentation from the February 5, 2014 Work Group meeting on the demolition and disposal issue, click here for a video of the presentation, and click here for a full report that accompanied the lawsuit.