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Readers React: America’s worst nuclear disaster happened right in L.A.'s backyard

A view of part of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory near Simi Valley in 2002.
(Anacleto Rapping / MCT)

To the editor: This article rightly adds the 1949-51 Mayak incident in Russia to the list of “worst nuclear accidents,” which includes Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima. (“Radiation levels near this Siberian village were 1,000 times above normal last fall. But no one worried much,” Feb. 16)

The article fails to mention another nuclear disaster that struck closer to home. This near-meltdown and massive radiation leak, which occurred near Simi Valley in 1959, not only reportedly released more than 400 times the radiation of the Three Mile Island incident, but it was also covered up by the government until an investigation brought it to light 50 years later.

Sadly, judging from this article, this catastrophe, which still has not been fully cleaned up, continues to suffer from neglect — on the ground and in the public discourse.

Vincent Brook, Los Angeles

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