Kim and Kourtney Kardashian are flexing their social platforms for good, and they only had to go 10 miles away from their Southern California homes to do it. This weekend, they supported and advocated for the cleanup of one of America’s largest partial nuclear meltdown sites responsible for more than a thousand cancer cases.
Kim and Kourtney, along with their kids, came to the event and joined the community in painting rocks to be used for a memorial commemorating those harmed by radiation and chemicals. The Kardashians became aware of the site following the Woolsey Fire, which allegedly began at the Santa Susana Field Lab. Since then, Kim has advocated for the cleanup of the site on social media.
The Santa Susana Field Lab Meltdown Anniversary Event was set in motion to create awareness that, despite more than 50 cases of rare pediatric cancer being reported among families living in the area since the nuclear reactor and rocket-engine test facility experienced a partial meltdown in 1959, cleanup has begun but has not yet been finished. The partial meltdown contaminated the lab, leaving behind dangerous, radioactive substances and remnants from testing the limits of nuclear power that are proven to be toxic.
In 2010, the U.S. government and NASA signed administrative orders of consent promising a complete cleanup. Boeing, the only non-governmental organization responsible for the partial meltdown, submitted a cleanup plan that would leave the majority of the contamination on the site. It is up to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to determine whether Boeing will be held responsible for a complete cleanup or if they will be allowed to leave the site contaminated.
When the lab was first created in 1947 for rocket, energy, and weapons testing, the surrounding area was largely rural. A small portion of it, known as Area IV, was secretly being used to test experimental nuclear reactors.
In 1959, an experiment was conducted that is estimated to have released 260 times more radiation than the Three Mile Island accident. A 2007 study found that people living within two miles of the Santa Susana Field Lab are 60% more likely to develop certain types of cancer. It’s believed that the partial meltdown that occurred as a result of this experiment is responsible for 1,800 cancer cases.
Today, more than half a million people live within 10 miles of the site. Over the years, different proposals have been made for what should be done with the land. In 2007, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that would have made restoration standards high enough for the space to be used safely for agricultural or residential property. It was struck down in federal court. The most recent proposal by the DTSC suggests a partial cleanup of the site.
“Today I went to an event for the 60th anniversary of the Santa Susana Field Lab Melt Down. It still hasn’t been cleaned up after 60 years! 60 kids all have rare cancers linked to this toxic site! It’s time to clean this up! This site is 10 miles from my home!” tweeted Kim.
“As we look back at the meltdown anniversary, we also have to look forward and get more people involved in fighting for the cleanup. We have seen some positive steps from our elected officials recently, but more — many more — people have to speak out if we are ever going to get the 100% cleaned up that we were promised,” said activist and event organizer Melissa Bumstead.
Kim has lent her voice and influence to a number of social justice issues recently, including gun safety, clemency for people of color incarcerated for lesser crimes, and criminal justice reform. She has met with President Donald Trump, funded legal teams, and asked her followers to not let injustice go overlooked. Now, she’s adding toxic nuclear site cleanup to her growing list of causes.