(June 30, 2007) -- Representatives of several government agencies assembled at the Boeing facility on Lakewood Blvd. at Conant St. on June 29 to conduct sampling for depleted uranium...their actions observed by 5th district Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske and her chief of staff, Josh Butler.
LBReport.com showed up and asked to observe. Boeing spokesman Glen Golightly said that no members of the press had been invited...but did allow us to snap a few pictures before we left.
Within hours of the sampling, Councilwoman Schipske had posted her description of the day's events on her internet journal (weblog or "blog"). To view it,
On March 13, 2007, following reports in the Beachcomber and elsewhere, Councilwoman Schipske agendized and the City Council passed (5-1, Yes: S. Lowenthal, O'Donnell, Schipske, Gabelich, Lerch; No: DeLong; Absent: B. Lowenthal, Reyes Uranga) an item asking the City Manager for a report within thirty days on whether or not the Douglas Park Environmental Impact Report (EIR) "included testing the soil and groundwater for uranium and cadmium (which was coated on the trim weights to prevent corrosion) and the results of these tests ; and...[c]onfirmation from Boeing that this radioactive material and other heavy metals were completely remediated from the soil, sufficient to safely allow residential development on top of the soil."
We asked Boeing spokesman Golightly what would be going on. "We're here with government officials with the city of Long Beach, Lakewood, Dept. of Health Services from L.A, the state, California Water Board and we're going to be doing some sampling for depleted uranium in a couple of buildings here," meaning buildings on the east side of Lakewood Blvd.
So what about sampling on the west side of Lakewood Blvd. where Douglas Park is slated to be built? "We plan to do some sampling on the west side [of Lakewood Blvd.] also, but you can only do so much in one day."
What does the sampling involve? "Primarily it involves what's called 'wipe tests' which is taking a piece of cloth and then taking a sample, wiping it, and then it goes into a container and it's sent to a lab for analysis. And we're doing what's called split testing. We have Boeing technicians taking sampling and we have representatives from the government taking samples too, so we have two independent samples being taken."
When do you expect the results? "Three to five weeks."
Among those present were Stephen Cain from the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board and Kathleen Kaufman, L.A. County Radiation Management Director. LB's Dept. of Health and Human Services sent Hazardous Material Specialist Cheryl Sandel.
A few months earlier, LBReport.com contacted government agencies to find out what they'd done on the matter on taxpayers' behalf.
Over a year ago in a March 7, 2006 letter, Jonathan Bishop, Executive Officer of the CA Regional Water Quality Control Board, informed L.A. County Radiation Manager Kathleen Kaufman that his agency had received a January 2006 complaint from an individual [apparently from the person who authored the Beachcomber stories] regarding the potential of depleted uranium at the former Boeing C-1 facility. Executive Officer Bishop wrote in pertinent part:
On January 17, 2006, we met with representatives from Boeing and discussed this issue with
them. Based on the information presented to us at the meeting, Boeing indicated that depleted uranium
was used at the Boeing facility until 1992 in balanced weights for aircraft manufacturing. The weights
were manufactured by a supplier pff-site, and were not chemically, physically, or metallurgically treated
or manufactured at the site. Once received at the site, the weights were moved to a designed secure
storage area, where they were inspected prior to installation on aircraft. The weights were stored,
handled, and installed in accordance with strict facility requirements. Depleted uranium is no longer
used or stored at the subject site. This information was provided to the public through response to
comments during the environment impact report public review process completed in 2004.
Since your agency is the lead in this matter, we are deferring the depleted uranium issues to your agency
for further review...
Executive Officer Bishop cc'd his letter to (among others) two LB city sfaffers in LB's Dept. of Health and Human Services and to Boeing.
In a reply dated March 23, 2006, L.A. County Radiation Management Director Kaufman told the state agency:
We are in receipt of your March 7, 2006 letter regarding concerns expressed to the Water Board
relating to depleted uranium use at the Boeing C-1 facility located at 3855 Lakewood Ave, Long
Beach, CA. This is to advise you that depleted uranium is commonly used as counterweights in
aircrafts. The possession and use of depleted uranium counterweights is exempt from our
regulatory control when installed in, or stored or handled in connection with installation in or
removal from, aircraft, rockets, projectiles, or missiles, if each counterweight has been
manufactured by an appropriately licensed manufacturer.
Your letter states that the depleted uranium was not chemically, physically, or metallurgically
treated or manufactured at the sight. This information indicates that the depleted uranium
counterweights were handled within regulatory restrictions. Therefore, unless you have
additional information that would indicate a violation of our regulations, we do not intend to
investigate any further.
In early April 2007, Boeing Realty issued the statement below following March 2007 LB City Council passage of Councilwoman Schipske's agenda item:
The Boeing Company (Boeing) is committed to safe development of the Douglas
Park project. Boeing is in the process of developing a sampling plan
with State agency involvement to address the recent concerns raised related
to the use of depleted uranium counterweights in aircraft assembled at the former
This sampling plan will be based on a review of historical processes
at the facility. A meeting has been scheduled with the California Regional Water
Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region and the Los Angeles County
Department of Health Services, Radiation Management unit on April 4, 2007.
A status update will be provided to the City Council after this meeting.
Boeing is dedicated to completing the appropriate action in a timely manner with agency
involvement and oversight.
It is currently anticipated that several weeks will be required to outline the sampling plan elements and obtain conceptual agreement from the involved agencies. At that time, an implementation plan and schedule will be communicated to the City Council.
Councilwoman Schipske is a Registered Nurse Practioniner and was recently appointed to the CA's Medical Board (the state agency that licenses medical doctors). She trained at Harbor-UCLA Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner Program, holds a Bachelor's Degree (History) from UCI and a Masters Degree (Legislative Affairs) from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She's a lawyer, currently Teachers Ass'n of LB General Counsel, following positions with health care organizations including Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California and LB's St. Mary Medical Center...and also served on LB's Board of Health for nine years.
Further as it develops.