Southeast Disposal Area – Completed Exposure Pathways

Radioactive Waste Disposal Site at George AFB SEDA
SEDA Radioactive Waste Disposal Site

Supply Wells

Domestic Water Supply Wells
Supply Wells

The SEDA is physically located about ¼ mile upstream of the Drinking Water Supply Wells for George AFB, Adelanto, CA, several homes, and the former Victor Valley Country Club.  Unfortunately, the groundwater flows northeast from the SEDA, directly toward these drinking water supply wells.  This created a potential exposure to tens of thousands of civilians, and military personnel and their family members over the years.  Furthermore, a training area, small arms range and base sanctioned motocross track were located in the SEDA providing another exposure pathway to environmental contaminants for thousands.

Southeast Disposal Area (SEDA) Unpermitted Disposal Sites

The Southeast Disposal Area (SEDA) had 11 Installation Restoration Program (IRP) sites (unpermitted dump-sites and unpermitted burn pits) containing: Avgas, VOCs and weapons’ residue; industrial, chemicals, heavy metals, and/or radioactive wastes.

  1. SS-52 (SEDA) – “Creosote Spill Area” – Creosote
  2. DP-15 (SEDA) – “Munitions/Oil” – Perchlorates
  3. DP-33 (SEDA) – “Munitions Burial” – Perchlorates
  4. DP-34 (SEDA) – “Munitions Burial” – Perchlorates
  5. WP-40 (SEDA) – “Chemical Toilet Sludge”
  6. LF-07 (SEDA) – “Base Landfill”
  7. LF-08 (SEDA) – “Tetraethyl Lead Disposal” – Avgas,  Tetraethyl Lead – Benzene – Ethylene dibromide (EDB)
  8. DP-10 (SEDA) – “Landfill Cartridges”
  9. RW-09 (SEDA) – “Radioactive Disposal” – Radioactive Isotopes
  10. SR-401 (SEDA) – “Small Arms Range” – Lead – Perchlorates
  11. XU-400 (SEDA) – “Old Borrow Area (OB/OD)”

The “Off The Books” Environmental Assessment And Cleanup Of Radioactive Material

The Air Force claims that the only search and cleanup for radioactive material in the SEDA was conducted in the mid-1990 where a small sealed radioactive source used for calibrating instruments was located.  See: Fact Sheet 10 (RW-09) Radioactive Waste – AF – October 1996

USGS Quad Victorville Section 36 T6N, R5W
Section 36 T6N, R5W – A.K.A. Southeast Disposal Area (SEDA)

However, John R. Sabol, J.D., P.E., the Base Environmental Coordinator (BEC) for George Air Force Base from June 1976 to February 1981, stated:

“Sometime in 1979, I did drilling work in a remote desert wash south of the large base bomb dump south of Air Base Road. Within the S.W. portion of Section 36 T6N, R5W, there was located a radioactive site clearly marked and fenced. Subsequent drilling with a 91/2 auger showed x-ray film, glass, wood, A-C gauges and other material stored in 55 gal drums.

John told me that he found 18 to 20 barrels of radioactive material.
Source: Dr. John R. Sabol Letter # 1 – 28 June 1996 – PDF
For more information about John R. Sabol, J.D., P.E., click here.

There is no record in the George Air Force Base Administrative Record of this 1979 environmental assessment for radioactive material that was conducted by Dr. Sabol.  Aerial photographs show that extensive work was done prior to the start of the Air Force Installation Restoration Program (IRP).
See: AF Administrative Record
To search the AR for George AFB

  1. Click on the BRAC
  2. Select George AFB from the list
  3. Enter search term and click “Search” button

My 1973 Radiation Exposure In Southeast Disposal Area (SEDA)

This newspaper article discusses my accidental radiation exposure in the SEDA with inhalation and ingestion of the hot particles, which occurred in 1973 while I was stationed at the former George Air Force Base.

Newspaper article – GAFB Airman [Frank Vera] Exposed to Radiation – 1 July 1994

Timeline and Supporting Documents pertaining to my radiation exposure

Weapons Storage Areas (WSA) / Buried Radioactive Weapons Maintenance Waste

Weapons Storage Areas (WSA) - Victorville Federal Correctional Complex (FCC)
Weapons Storage Area

The Air Force acknowledges that it routinely withheld records from regulators, contractors, and the public about radioactive waste from weapons maintenance.

“All activities supporting the nuclear defense program are highly classified to protect national security. Since this included weapons maintenance waste materials during the period involved, information on the amounts and locations of this waste was not found in the historical records searches originally performed as a basis for cleanup. The recent availability of the documents from the Cold War era has led to the discovery of locations where low-level radioactive waste from weapons maintenance activities may have been buried in the [Weapons Storage Areas] WSAs.”

Page 1, column 2
Source: Buried Radioactive Weapons Maintenance Waste – Air Force Real Property Agency (AFRPA) – 8 May 2003

George Air Force Base Federal Facility Agreement

In the Federal Facility Agreement for George Air Force Base, the Department of Defense (DOD) and Air Force gave themselves permission to withhold records pertaining to environmental contamination, from regulators, contractors, and the public.

23.1  The Parties may request of one another access to or a copy of any record or document relating to this Agreement or the IRP [Installation Restoration Program].   If the Party that is the subject of the request (the originating Party [the Department of Defense and the Air Force]) has the record or document, that Party shall provide access to or a copy of the record or document; provided, however, that no access to or copies of records or documents need be provided if they are subject to claims of attorney-client privilege, attorney work product, deliberative process, enforcement confidentiality, or properly classified for national security under law or executive order.“

Source: Page 43
George Air Force Base (George AFB) Federal Facility Agreement – DOD,  Air Force – 21 September 1990

Classified for National Security Under Law or Executive Order

The Atomic Energy Act [42 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.] and Executive orders concerning the handling of “restricted data” and national security information prohibits the disclosure of information about the nuclear defense program. This includes information about any environmental contamination or accidental exposure to radioactive material from nuclear weapons development, testing, accidents, incidents, or maintenance.

“Restricted Data” (RD)

The Atomic Energy Act defines “Restricted Data” as all data concerning

  • Design, Manufacture, or Utilization of Atomic Weapons
  • Production of Special Nuclear Material
  • Use of Special Nuclear Material in the Production of Energy

“Formerly Restricted Data” (FRD)

Classified information that has been removed from the Restricted Data category after DOE and DoD jointly determine that it

  • relates primarily to the military utilization of atomic weapons and
  • can be adequately safeguarded in a manner similar to NSI
  • Examples of Formerly Restricted Data
  • Stockpile quantities
  • Weapons safety & storage
  • Yields
  • Locations

Source: Classification of Nuclear Weapons-Related Information …



I am not a doctor or attorney, and cannot give medical advice or legal advice.

If you, a friend, or loved one has been injured or died as a result of the contamination at a DOD Superfund Site please follow the steps that are outlined at Get Help.

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do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency of the U.S. government

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