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Michael Collins' "Russians, Rockets and the Santa Ana River" (May 19) was biased and full of inaccuracies and unfounded speculation. Such sensationalism serves to fuel fear, misunderstanding and mistrust in communities and, unfortunately, incites all-too-popular litigative actions that impede environmental cleanup projects.
We would like to provide an accurate account of the Aerojet Chino Hills site, based on historical, scientific and technical facts. These facts are available in public repositories located at the Chino Hills public library and at the office of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in Cypress.
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A subsidiary of GenCorp, Aerojet owned and operated facilities in Chino Hills from 1954 to 1995. Aerojet owns 400 acres and leased another 400 acres of adjacent land as a buffer zone between the site and the city of Chino Hills. The facility was used to load, assemble and test munitions for the U.S. government. There are no secrets surrounding the facility or the operations conducted there. Aerojet's efforts helped to protect the men and women in uniform who serve this country in times of war and adversity.
Munitions handled at the site primarily involved 25- and 30-millimeter explosive field artillery. Penetrators capable of piercing armor and containing depleted uranium were also assembled and tested, as well as canisters containing tear gas. Other small quantities of chemical agents were tested, but only in contained laboratory settings. Collins takes unfair liberty in describing this as "producing a galaxy of bombs and munitions." His reference to claims that these operations resulted in "chemicals and radioactive poisons oozing from the site" is entirely false and contradicts scientific findings by regulatory agencies and Aerojet after thorough investigation of the site.
Most important, all investigations and risk assessments conducted at the site under DTSC and Department of Health oversight have concluded that:
1) No harmful levels of chemicals are present in surface waters.
2) No harmful levels of chemicals are outside, or migrating from, facility boundaries.
3) Chemicals found do not pose a risk to humans or to the ecological habitat.
We understand concerns by citizens regarding the need for our company and all companies to protect health and safety in every operation. We intend to clean up Chino Hills. We have responded and will continue to respond responsibly. And we are making excellent progress.
senior vice president, communications
GenCorp Michael Collins responds:The claim that toxic chemicals threaten the Santa Ana River came from Christine Brown, an official at DTSC, the agency Younts says has declared the site clean. As to Younts' assertion that chemicals found at the site-including dioxin-"do not pose a risk to humans": I wouldn't want them in my water. You?RED-LETTER DAY
To Todd Mathews: My letter never suggested you were "pro-Communist," thus your defensive attack that I'm "redbaiting" doesn't work. "Clinton-baiting," maybe (Letters, June 2). The point being it's not hip to attack liberal/Left politicians, thus many journalists only attack conservatives or Republicans. If the shoe fits, it's yours.
As far as standards, it's hard to take seriously journalists who use the phrase "Rohrabacher recorded on a voice vote." Just so you and the guys at the OC Weekly will understand how it works and not embarrass yourself again: on a voice vote, a member's position is not recorded.
For President Bill Clinton's first two years, few in Congress had an idea of how worthless a commitment from Clinton would be. Thus, when he promised security guarantees that would permit business deals with China that meant tens of thousands of jobs for Southern California, I went along. If you can honestly say you would have done differently, then your insight into Clinton has been truly remarkable.
By the way, your answer still did not justify, as my letter suggested, using the phrase that I "proposed giving the Chinese government U.S. missile technology." Just a recommendation from a former journalist:_when you've stepped on your appendage, just admit it and step off. I trusted Clinton's word that there would be no tech transfers. When I discovered that my faith in those assurances was misplaced, I admitted the error and moved on. But never did I propose "giving the Chinese government U.S. missile technology." As a journalist, you do no credit to yourself by not admitting that error and moving on.
Representative Dana Rohrabacher
Huntington Beach Todd Mathews responds: Where to start with a letter so redolent of Clintonesque wordplay? First, I never said Rohrabacher called me "pro-Communist." I said he called me a "Leftist"; that's redbaiting. Second, he did indeed record a vote in favor of technology transfers to China-though I suppose he'll say that no actual tape recorders were involved. Third, if Rohrabacher didn't know that Clinton was untrustworthy before November 1992, that would make him uniquely naive among the members of his party, who, during the general election, made Clinton's lying a major campaign issue. There are other reasons to doubt Rohrabacher's latest version of that period in American history: one month after Clinton's November 1992 election, Rohrabacher said Clinton's victory meant "the inmates are going to take over the asylum." Who would cut a high-stakes foreign-policy and trade deal with a nut? Dana Rohrabacher, apparently. Finally, he "admits" that his only mistake in the whole missiles-to-China fiasco was that he trusted Clinton too much but has now moved on. "Faith" was your biggest failing, Dana? How very big of you to admit that.