Robin Estrin is in her sophomore year at Oak Park High School in Oak Park, California and a founding member of Teens Against Toxins
Dearest Boeing Officials:
I am writing this letter to urge you to clean up the nuclear contamination that was left after the Rocketdyne meltdown that occurred in 1959. The Santa Susana Field Lab where the accident occurred is not too far from my neighborhood. I understand that you have begun pursuing a lawsuit to rid yourself of the legal responsibility you have to clean up your mess.
First of all, let me just say, I get it. I realize that you’re in it for the money; a big company like the one you run has a lot of pressure from shareholders to turn a profit. That $68 billion in revenue you took in last year doesn’t go as far as it used to.
Now, please, try and look at it from my point of view. I have to live here, only miles from the contamination site. When my teammates practice lacrosse three times a week at our park, we have to worry about the safety of the air we breathe and the soil we play on.
The nuclear accident took place more than 50 years ago, but its effects are only now starting to come to light. A scientific study showed that a group of Field Lab workers who were more exposed to chemicals and radiation had a much higher death rate from cancer than those with less exposure. One horrible kind of cancer called retinoblastoma that attacks the eyes of young children, has been cropping up around here at an abnormally high rate.
I wish I could say the 1959 spill was the only problem that needs addressing, but the damage done at the Rocketdyne facility extends much further. Throughout the 1950s up until the 1980s and possibly beyond, workers used a toxic chemical called Trichloroethylene (TCE) to clean the rockets that were built there. The solvent, a known carcinogen, has harmed the air, water, and soil, some of which can and should be cleaned up. Also, toxic waste has been burned in open air pits and dumped into the ground, causing unforgivable environmental damage.
Some people say not enough testing has been done to prove that our cancer clusters are a result of the reactor meltdown and toxic spills that came after it. Is that really a question you feel comfortable living with? All legality aside, you must have some sense of moral obligation to your fellow citizens and neighbors, not to mention your very own workers. Crazy little thing, that human conscience is.
Earlier in the month, my friends and I, the “Teens Against Toxins,” held a bake sale on your behalf. Our intention was to raise money for your poor, struggling company to aid you in the “clean up Rocketdyne fund” that you may or may not have already started. We raised a whopping $99.31, collecting pocket money and spare change from the children of our neighborhood. It seems silly doesn’t it? Children raising money for a company as big as Boeing?
We then proceeded to deliver a check to the Boeing headquarters located near the contamination site, only to be rejected and turned away. We made a YouTube video of the whole thing and posted it here. Fear not, the money will be donated to a local children’s hospital, specializing in cancer treatment.
I hope you will reconsider your decision to blow off the clean-up process and leave the dangerous environment for my generation to deal with. Please shed some light on whether you’re on board with this; after all we’re just a bunch of kids trying to take care of some old folks mess.
Have a good one, Boeing, you’ll be hearing from us again.
Oak Park, California
Teens Against Toxins
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