Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), California


At Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), located 40 miles outside of Los Angeles, HGL conducted a CERCLA radiological RI of a DOE-operated nuclear research facility. HGL opened an on-site office/warehouse facility and employed green practices during construction, such as installing a high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, and instituting a recycling program for paper products, batteries, and aerosol cans. During fieldwork, HGL used low-sulfur diesel in field trucks and custom-fabricated gamma scanning devices to minimize impacts to threatened and endangered (T&E) species and to allow scanning in rugged terrain. To fully characterize the site while minimizing potential disruptions to the habitats of the T&E species, HGL fabricated a mule-mounted gamma scanner and hired a professional handler to lead the animal across the terrain to collect the required data. Any wastes generated by the mule were collected to prevent the introduction of nonnative species to the area.

All fieldwork was monitored by biological monitors, and any cleared vegetation was mulched and spread on site to provide habitat. For one of the T&E species, the Gnatcatcher, HGL conducted annual habitat surveys to ensure that investigation activities were not affecting the birds’ habitat. For another, the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, HGL hired professional snake handlers to train staff in methods to remove any snakes encountered and to relocate them to a safer area. HGL was able to complete a full characterization of the site while ensuring the safety of the T&E species as well as its own staff.

HGL employee handles a mule and the custom-designed gamma scanner through some rocky terrain.