LA’s Deadly Nuclear Nightmare Film
LA’s Deadly Nuclear Nightmare: Santa Susana Field Labs
New documentary tells story of how Melissa Bumstead (above with daughter Grace Bumstead) came to spearhead the drive to clean up the radioactive, toxic site
located just 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

This Week’s Featured Interview:

  • LA’s Deadly Nuclear Nightmare – Simi Valley mother Melissa Bumstead only found out about the toxic, radioactively contaminated Santa Susan Field Lab – located less than three miles from her home – while her daughter was being treated for neuroblastoma – a rare cancer.  Her story, the history of the site, the litany of official lies that has tried to cover it up, and the decades of fightback to force a full clean-up is the subject of a new documentary, In the Dark of the Valley.  We interviewed Melissa and the film’s producer, Derek Smith on April 9, 2021.

LINKS mentioned in the interview:

LA’s Deadly Nuclear Nightmare – Melssa Bumstead testifying before
CA State Water Board, illustrating her daughter’s cancer treatments.
Each bead in the yards-long “necklace” equals one medical treatment.

Numnutz of the Week (for Outstanding Nuclear Boneheadedness):

Gigayacht floating science lab!  All Green Technology!  Except… you guessed it…


Libbe HaLevy 

00:00:01

Childhood cancer. It’s a terrible diagnosis, a terrible trauma for the child and for their entire families. And one that leads parents from around the world to bring their children to children’s hospital in Los Angeles for treatment. But imagine if, as you sit in the waiting room with other parents whose kids are also in for similar treatment, you begin to notice that a lot of them too many for coincidence are from your exact same neighborhood. And then you realize

Melissa Bumstead

00:00:35

Pediatric cancer is incredibly rare. There should be no way that another child lives on our street. And he did. I could just almost point to exactly where all the kids in our community live with cancer nearby. So as we started learning about that, we’ve mapped ourselves out on Google maps, all of the parents who met each other and started wonder, and in the middle of a big 10 mile ring, it was the first time I saw something called the Santa Susana field lab.

Libbe HaLevy 

00:01:01

Well, there is nothing on earth, more powerful than a parent, especially a mother defending her child against whatever threatens their safety and what it means, protecting them and everyone else from a radiological dumping ground and nuclear meltdown site virtually in your own backyard that you didn’t know about. And it’s less than 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles. You can’t avoid the fact that your home, your neighborhood, your subdivision town and city are smack in the middle of that dangerous seat that we all share.

Libbe HaLevy 

00:02:12

Welcome to nuclear hot seat, the weekly international news magazine, keeping you up to date on all things nuclear from a different perspective. My name is Leiby Halevi. I am the producer and host as well as a survivor of the nuclear accident at three mile island from just one mile away. So I know what can happen when those nuclear so-called experts get it wrong. This week, we talk about an exciting new documentary film about the Sadducees Ana field lab, the toxic radioactive former rocket dine site, only 30 miles Northwest of downtown Los Angeles. We talk with Derek Smith, one of the producers of that film and Melissa Bumstead, the Simi valley mother who put together the picture of childhood cancer cases in proximity to that site and has been a towering force in fighting for a full cleanup to background levels. Ever since we will also have nuclear news from around the world numnuts of the week for outstanding nuclear bone headedness, and more honest nuclear information, then we will ever hear from math gates, all of it coming up in just a few moments today is Tuesday, April 13th, 2021.

Libbe HaLevy 

00:03:30

And here is this week’s nuclear news from a different perspective, starting off in Japan, where after months of hints and semi statements that conditioned us to what’s happening now, Japan has finally announced to nobody’s surprised that it will release more than 1 million tons of radioactively contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific ocean. A decision that has angered neighboring countries, including China and Korea, as well as those in the local fishing industry, Japanese prime minister, Yosha HiTA Suga previously said that the government had put off figuring out what to do with all of the radioactively contaminated water building up at the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for long enough. And it was time to start dumping it into the ocean soup. His hand was forced given that the facility will soon run out of space to store contaminated groundwater that has been seeping into it.

Libbe HaLevy 

00:04:30

This according to the Japan times, SOGA is also framing the controversial plan to release the water into the Pacific ocean as unavoidable, a few lies or misrepresentations to be aware of in the stories that are coming out, Tokyo electric power company TEPCO as well as Japanese government officials say that tritium the radioactive material most prominent, but not the only radioactive material in the water is quote, not harmful in small amounts. That completely ignores the problem of bioaccumulation where a small amount of radiation gets eaten by plankton gets eaten by larger critters, get eaten by small fish, large fish, larger fish. And then by us also, according to the beer seven report, biological effects of ionizing radiation, there is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation. It all counts it all bioaccumulates and it’s all bad to other misrepresentations. They like to say releasing the water into the sea.

Libbe HaLevy 

00:05:33

Every time you hear that you need to replace it with Pacific ocean. And also the claim that they will be diluting the Trinity aided water that is in the water tanks so that it is safe. But the problem is with the concept of diluting radiation, because the smallest possible unit that releases radiation is a single Adam. What they are talking about is not diluting like with the poison, where it gets less and less and less powerful and potent and dangerous. But what they’re doing is dispersing it, meaning spreading it out further. It may be just a single atom, but all the single atoms are going farther and farther away to more and more places. And every one of them can create danger. And if that’s not enough, according to the, my Nietzsche, which is a major Japanese new source of the 85,000 containers, holding radioactive waste placed in radiation controlled areas of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the contents of about 4,000 have not been identified.

Libbe HaLevy 

00:06:45

And this again is according to TEPCO, the company says it will formulate a survey plan and proceed to determine what they hold G. So soon, last month, TEPCO confirmed that the contents of a container in the waste storage area at the nuclear facility were leaking due to corrosion at the bottom of it. When the Fukushima prefectural government inspected the site, it also found four containers. The tech code didn’t know about the maximum radiation level on the surface of the containers was 1.5 millisievert per hour. Meanwhile, the government of Japan is offering lucrative grants to keep aging nuclear reactors running. The central government of Japan is offering billions of yen in new grants to Fukui prefecture to allow a nuclear plant operator to run its aging reactors beyond their planned operational life span of 40 years. Up to 2.5 billion yen or 22.6 million us dollars will be provided per nuclear reactor to a prefecture preparing to respond to the extension of the 40 year life of the reactors.

Libbe HaLevy 

00:07:58

So it’s not a grant. It’s a bribe Osaka based consign electric power company is pushing to reactivate three reactors and Fukui prefecture to at the Takayama nuclear plant in Taka Hama. And one in Mahama putting them in line for 7.5 billion yen or something over 67 million us dollars, but, but Fukushima radioactive waste the citizen’s data radiation map of Japan, which shows that the radiation from Fukushima went through out the country over to the U S where more than three years after he and six other nuclear activists entered Kings bay Naval base home to six Trident nuclear submarines in order to peacefully protest nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war. A federal judge sentenced mark Coalville to 21 months in prison. Mark is the last of the Kings bay plow shares seven to be sentenced prior to the trial, mark had already served about 15 months of his sentence, which will count towards his 21 months.

Libbe HaLevy 

00:09:13

Mark told the court that it’s refusal to recognize the right of his family and community quote to live without a nuclear gun on hair trigger alert, held perpetually to our heads has placed it firmly in a posture of criminality. He went on to say, this government in its lawlessness has hidden first strike weapons with enough firepower to kill 6 billion people. The court has a responsibility to allow the law to be applied beyond the fence at Kings bay offense that I, and my loved ones with much fear and trembling freely answered the call of faith, the call of conscience and the call of generations yet unborn to breach as with all six of his co-defendants. Mark was also ordered to share a payment of restitution of 33,500, $3 and 51 cents suppose the damages incurred, but that’s calculated at government rates. So if you take out the pork and the fluff, it’s probably $142.

Libbe HaLevy 

01:10:15

Mark was also sentenced to three years of supervised provision as to his co-defendants four remain in jail. But another father, Steve Kelly was freed from prison today after three years and eight days imprisoned in various county jails and federal facilities in court today, he admitted to the probation violations and was given time served and set free. Having served the maximum six months. In addition to his Ploughshares sentence, Steve exited the courthouse to be greeted by 40 supporters who had been visualing outside. Now he’s required to report to the probation department in Georgia within three days to begin three years of supervised release as part of the King’s bay plow share sentence, he has already announced that he does not intend to comply with that and is expecting a visit from us marshals. For those of you planning, hiking, backpacking and sightseeing trips to the grand canyon, you need to know that just 10 miles south of the entrance to the south rim of the grand canyon, the canyon mine hopes to strike it big mining.

Libbe HaLevy 

01:11:20

One of Earth’s deadliest elements, uranium, the mine extends over 1400 feet down into the earth surface and critics, AKA sane people worry. It could scar the grand canyon itself and pollute a nearby tribe’s water. Since 2016 canyon, mine has been taking on water. And as of the end of 2020, over 40 million gallons of water contaminated with constituents, including, but not limited to uranium and arsenic have been pumped out the mind shaft almost 10 million gallons in 2020 alone. Also in 2020 uranium levels in the mineshaft water we’re on average four times the environmental protection agency’s safe, drinking water standard already. Certain areas of the grand canyon have marked off water sites as being inappropriate for hikers and backpackers to use because of uranium contamination and eternal perpetual risk is the aquifer underlying the area and the entire system of seeps and Springs of the grand canyon that feed the homelands of the harvest Supai tribe and a footnote to history.

Libbe HaLevy 

01:12:34

Every time I try and post about this on the Facebook grand canyon hikers and backpackers page, it gets deleted in Florida. The nuclear regulatory commission has proposed a $150,000, fine to Florida power and light company for falsifying plant records and recording inaccurate data in their maintenance records at the Turkey point nuclear power plant south of Miami, after two investigations completed in 2020, the NRC determined that Florida power and light employees in 2019 falsified information in a work order associated with the inspection and maintenance of a safety related check valve. The second investigation confirmed that two technicians deliberately provided inaccurate information in maintenance records related to a mispositioned plant component. The NRC also found a supervisor and a department head influenced others within the department to conceal this maintenance error citing the grave threat scientific American magazine announced that it would stop using the term climate change in its articles about man-made global warming and substitute climate emergency.

Libbe HaLevy 

01:13:51

Instead scientific American senior editor mark for Shetty said journalism should reflect what science says. The climate emergency is here in Greenland that country’s left-wing environmentalist party has won the election after it promised to halt a mining project that could have made Greenland a major source of rare earth and uranium, but at a potentially steep environmental price. This issue was the topic of a film by Liza auto Gina Connor suit Kayvon field, which was featured at the 2019 international uranium film festival held in window rock New Mexico on Navajo nation land. If you want to learn more of the background on this mine, we interviewed Liza for nuclear hot seat, number 3 85, which aired on November 7th, 2018, the executive director of the international uranium film festival Norbert Sukenick pointed out the parallels between what happened in Greenland and what happened in Portugal, where farmers in the town of Nisa voted against a uranium, mine being located next to their lands in the film cheese, instead of uranium by Sukenick. One of the farmer says no one will buy meat from a lamb that has lived next to a uranium mine. And now

Libbe HaLevy 

01:15:30

A mammoth 984 foot Giggy yacht is planned to sail the open seas while housing 160 scientists working on board 22 laboratories and in a giant space sphere. This vessel is guaranteed to be packed with green technology and the capacity to hold more than 400 people and introduce features found on cruise expedition, research and luxury yachts and more Naval architect. Yvonne solace Jefferson said we wanted to create a design that would inspire them to protect the earth, to become an elk, a mist of global solutions, and what powers this giga yacht nuclear, a molten salt reactor. So forget about clean green and saving the planet. And all those scientists are going to be on board. The brainiacs behind this giga yacht, which is not supposed to launch until 20, 25 and may not get there. All of you are this weeks. No

Libbe HaLevy 

01:16:43

Nuclear problems are going to continue to be with us forever. It’s just the nature of the beast from uranium mining to weapons, production, to radiation, leaking reactors, to still not having a way to safely store the deadly radioactive waste produced by all these endeavors. Nuclear is industry and government run riot, not caring how they contaminate the world as long as they keep making obscene profits and fool themselves into thinking that they are not affected by the consequences of their actions when they most definitely are. Meanwhile, we all have to deal with the dangers of radioactive contamination that will not go away on its own ever. That’s why you need nuclear hot seat to get into nuclear stories with facts, continuity and context, as well as the healthy dose of skepticism and with a much deeper and nuanced telling than you would ever expect on mainstream media.

Libbe HaLevy 

01:17:40

We get behind the scenes under the skin and into the heart of nuclear matters every week with fresh information and unrelenting perspective and even one possible humor. That is why now would be the right time to support us with a donation. It’s easy. Just go to nuclear hotseat.com and click on the big red donate button. That’s where you can help us with a donation of any size. And that same red button is where you can now set up a monthly recurring donation. If you make it $5, that’s the same as a cup of coffee and a nice tip here in the U S so treat nuclear hot seat to a metaphoric cup of coffee. Please do what you can now so that we can keep bringing you stories and episodes like this one, and know that however much you can help us out. I am deeply grateful that you’re listening and that you care.

Libbe HaLevy 

01:18:38

Now here’s this week’s featured interview. Films can change the world, especially when they pulled the curtain back on previously underreported, nuclear accidents, problems, and dangers. We saw this happen for north St. Louis with the film atomic Homefront, which influenced the federal government to get off its Duff and Institute a cleanup of the toxic radioactive waste dump. That is the Westlake landfill. That was a result of years of constant consistent pushing and community organizing by just moms STL, a group founded and led by local moms, Dawn Chapman, and Karen nickel. Now another group headed by another mom who is fighting for her children and by extension all the rest of us. And that pits her against the site of the worst nuclear meltdown in American history thought to have released as much as 200 times, the radiation as three mile island. And now there’s a film about that woman and that battle, Melissa Bumstead and her daughter, grace are the focus of in the dark of the valley, a new documentary that brilliantly recounts the history of the saddest Susana field lab, just north of Los Angeles and the struggle to get it cleaned up. We talk with Melissa and one of the producers of the film, Derek Smith, when it’s over, we’ll let you know how you can view in the dark of the valley digitally. For a limited period of time, I spoke with Melissa Bumstead and Derek Smith on Friday, April 9th, 2021, Melissa Bumstead and Derek Smith. Thank you so much for joining me today on nuclear hot seat.

Melissa Bumstead

02:20:24

Thank you so much for having us. Thanks for having us. And again, really thank you for watching and having a platform that speaks to this. It’s an honor to be on here. So thank you.

Libbe HaLevy 

02:20:35

Let’s get started with a little bit of background from you, Melissa. You have been spearheading the fight for the cleanup of satis Susanna field lamp for many years. Now, the audience may not be familiar with your story probably of them are not. So please explain how and why you got involved in this fight.

Melissa Bumstead

02:20:53

The cleanup fight has actually been going much longer than I have been involved with it, committed to bridge the gap physicians for social responsibility, three incredible ladies over in Simi valley, I am an accidental activist and I didn’t get involved until about five or six years ago. After my daughter was diagnosed with an incredibly rare form of leukemia and through treatment at children’s hospital, Los Angeles, we just kept meeting more and more families that live nearby. Pediatric cancer is incredibly rare. It should, there should be no way that another child lives on our street. And he did. I could just almost point to exactly where all the kids in our community live with cancer nearby. So as we started learning about that, we’ve mapped ourselves out on Google maps, all of the parents who met each other and started wonder, and in the middle of a big 10 mile ring, it was the first time I saw something called the Santa Susana field lab.

Melissa Bumstead

02:21:48

And through a lot of research, talking with epidemiologist experts came to find out that it’s the site of one of America’s worst nuclear accidents, potentially releasing over 200 times the amount of radiation with one of their reactor meltdowns 200 times more than the three mile island. And so I’ve kind of dedicated my life these last few years, sharing my daughter’s story. I think that’s, what’s really move some mountains for us is people see now that the children that their choices are affecting and impacting and doing all we can. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone. I feel like every morning I wake up at zero and try to figure out, learn what I need to do today. You know, it’s so important. And it wasn’t until recently we realized how widespread this problem was. We’re hoping that with a really comprehensive cleanup that we’re fighting for here might even help it set a new standard across the nation of what a cleanup should look like.

Libbe HaLevy 

02:22:44

Here’s hoping what has been the hardest thing, the hardest block you have faced during your time in the struggle

Melissa Bumstead

02:22:52

For me, I think the PTSD for a while, we were still adding kids that we met to the little map that we had made. And I found myself grieving for one to two days every time, because it just made me remember the day my daughter was diagnosed and the day she relapsed and got the bone marrow transplant, mental health days, I take them frequently because very personal, you know, this isn’t a story or someone else’s home. This is my home and my community and my children do.

Libbe HaLevy 

02:23:20

What is your background as a filmmaker? When did you first become aware of the saddest Susana field lab and what led you to consider it as the subject of a film?

Melissa Bumstead

02:23:31

Nicholas Mim and I went to school together, we went to Arizona state, my brother who’s the third producer and he was the cinematographer on the job. Well, he’s my brother. So we all came together after graduation and sort of formed a company. And what we’re doing from time to time was we were working on client projects, like little two to four to five minute videos here and there. Some of them were in style magazine, outside magazine, so on and so forth. And then, and February of 2018 change.org reached out and Melissa called herself an accidental activists. We were accidentally interested, I guess you could say in a sense, because we had no idea about Santa Susanna and we were living, I want to say 25 miles away from the site. I’d lived in LA for eight years. Same for Nick, same for Brandon and change that org came to us with a petition video for four to seven minutes.

Melissa Bumstead

02:24:27

They wanted a video, which was the change.org existing video now for the petition. And what we realized through that project was holy smokes. Four to seven minutes is not enough time to tell this story. We also know now that a hundred minutes, isn’t enough time to tell this story, but we’re getting there. We’re getting closer. So we spent from essentially February, 2018 until a couple of weeks ago, trying to download every bit of knowledge that we could and to try and tell this story through, you know, the lens that is the amazing Melissa Bumstead. And we are so grateful for the opportunity because, you know, not only do you learn a lot and become aware of your surroundings and the community that you raised in and that you live in, but you meet these amazing folks, Melissa, Denise, Stan, all these people in the film. And it’s just like you wake up in the morning and you think about what they’re doing every day. And you’re like, okay, you know what? I should put my socks on and go drink coffee and get things going because they’re inspiring. So long story short change.org introduced us originally to the project. And we independently wanted to tell the objective story. And that led us to you. What

Libbe HaLevy 

02:25:39

I’m shocked you most about the information that you learned in the course of your research?

Melissa Bumstead

02:25:45

I think initially just because the visual in itself, in the film, you see Melissa standing at a podium, this is early on in her activist days, I believe. And she’s talking about how she started to recognize different cases in her neighborhood and in the film, there’s this visual where we sort of pull out of a map and you see the little dots that Melissa originally drew up for us of where these cancer cases were, where these different individuals, primarily children were and what cancers they had. And once you see the visual of that, it’s much different than hearing it or reading it. And you’re like, oh my gosh, they’re all extremely close together. And then you start the domino effect, which is okay, it’s a 60% increase of cancer rates in the area. I think by definition, even though it can’t be proved, seems to be a cancer cluster. From that point on, it was an avalanche of information that we still stumble on. We’ll email Melissa and Denise and Dan, and be like, are we getting this right? And they’ll be like, no, you’re not, but here’s the right answer. And so it’s, there’s a lot, but I think at the end of the day, it’s you recognize one thing that happened, there was an issue, there was negligence, there was an action and it led to a valley that is struggling with the effects of it.

Libbe HaLevy 

02:27:05

Alyssa, what was it like for you to be approached, to be part of, and certainly a focus of this film? Or did you approach them as the potential focus? How did that come about?

Melissa Bumstead

02:27:17

They approached me. And like you said, through the change.org video, pretty much anyone who’s going to play around with my kids and be friendly is someone I’m going to trust, you know, someone who gets kids to me, that’s a easy way to know who’s a good person. And only the day maybe two that they shot at my house. So I think it was one day for probably even less than an hour or so. My kids were practically hanging off of them, begging them not to leave. So when they came back awhile later and said, we were thinking about doing this film, they were, I’d actually gotten a couple other offers and then it just didn’t feel right. And I knew if this story was going to be told, it would be very difficult to not put a political slant on it, not to put a core me slant on it, not to put a like super woman slammed on it. You know, there’s just so many nuances of what’s happening here. And I felt these are the only guys who I would trust to tell this story. And then, and I was just blown away by not only the beautiful work they did and catching the intimacy and the nuances of the problem, you know, they’re just really nice guys. My family loves having them over when they came over. I think we’ll be a little bit sad now, the films over,

Melissa Bumstead

02:28:27

Thank you. And to keep going, Melissa, tell us more about great way, but doesn’t mean a lot,

Libbe HaLevy 

02:28:35

Derek, you explained that this is kind of an old school family based friend based project, at least in terms of your company, how did the project come together as a project, as opposed to just a really good idea,

Melissa Bumstead

02:28:50

A lot of support, a lot of help from those that are around us, even people that are directly related to the film like Melissa and her family. I mean, anytime we needed something, people were always making themselves available to us. And at the end of the day, these things don’t get done without community, a team effort and help they’re little things that you don’t really think about, like the menu details of animation and the scheduling of animation and things like that, that are part of the film. And so being able to have someone like Lisa Kelly, who is our animation director on the film, come in and just put endless hours with her team, taking unnecessary pay cuts in order to do it because they believed the story and they were affected emotionally by Melissa and the other mothers. It was something like that where people, they started to see the trailer and the sizzle, and they became attached to it and they wanted to help.

Melissa Bumstead

02:29:47

And so, because of that, I think that’s why the project got done. There was a will on Nick shoulders, the director to edit the film when we weren’t able to really combat the COVID situation. And so he sort of took it into his hands and started editing the film and Brandon and I were in separate locations. So what we were doing, what we could to help him out and assist him with his edit. But I think you get to a point where you realize, no, one’s going to finish this unless we take the initiative. And Nick did that. And then we had a crazy amount of generous help support from friends, family, community members. Yeah. It doesn’t get done without everyone. That’s what took it from an idea to a finished problem.

Libbe HaLevy 

03:30:29

Did you have the backing of any kind of major production outlet or distribution outlet, any big name behind it?

Melissa Bumstead

03:30:39

Early on, we had a friend who worked with an executive village roadshow television, and in between one of our close friends, she had helped on the film as well. And she connected us with her friend at village road show. We went in and met with them and she became a huge part of the project. And she was at the most. I’m not sure if you met her, but Shannon was at the 60th anniversary issues where, and I guess early on village road show decided that they would help in shopping the film, but financially it was independent outside of village roadshow. There wasn’t any other connection

Libbe HaLevy 

03:31:15

I have to break in here with how much in admiration I am of the finished product, because the pacing of it, the editing of it, the thoroughness of the information and the clarity with which it is presented is truly remarkable. It’s an incredibly complex story with a lot of moving parts. And my sense of it is even for somebody who knew nothing about Santa Susana field lab, it plays it out in such a way that you stick with it. And the animation is brilliant. It illustrates it without being too precious or look at me or isn’t this being cutesy. It all worked. So my hats off to the entire team that put this together, and I was in tears within the first two minutes. It’s a remarkable film. And I put my heartiest indorsement behind it for anybody who is open to being educated by it. Getting back to how the film played out. How far along were you in the shooting when in 2018, the Woolsey fire, which broke out on the Santa Susana field lab and added a whole other dimension to the story. How far along were you with it? When Woolsey broke out,

Melissa Bumstead

03:32:30

We’re having conversations with Melissa. This was November of 2018 having conversations we had just shot, I guess it was the week before with her on how the Wayne a nice afternoon evening and with us and her family, where we all went trick or treating and probably had too much candy. And we were having conversations about how to wrap the film up, what the Indian was going to be. And then out of nowhere, the Woolsey fire hits and what you started to learn. I think Denise sent the first email to us, Denise Duffield who’s KSR LA in the film. She sent the first email about where the possible location of the starting point of the fire was, and that potentially being on the site. And so we said to ourselves, okay, we need to take a step back here and see how this story develops and how it’ll play its way into Alyssa story, but also the effects of Santa Susanna. And from there things sort of just snowballed because we met more people, people were willing to speak up. I think because much like you see in the film, the Kardashians sort of brought it back to the public’s attention. And after that happened, people were willing to talk for us. That was nice to finally get some yeses per se, to interview requests.

Libbe HaLevy 

03:33:44

I wanted to get to that point because there are a few places in the film where you put up informational cards with writing on them, that speak to the fact that despite requests, the department of energy, the California department of toxic substances control DTSC bowling and others had interview requests that they turned down, they did not want to be interviewed for this film. Were you expecting that? How did you roll with that information when it came in?

Melissa Bumstead

03:34:16

Yeah, we were expecting that. And I know with those companies, agencies, organizations that they deal with plenty of media requests on a daily basis. So when something from three unknown filmmakers comes in their way, they think, eh, you know, we don’t need to worry about that. So declined to comment was to be expected and to be fair, understood. Because again, we were three on our three unknown filmmakers and, you know, in their eyes, as far as a company goes, there’s no reason to reach out unless they really have something they want to say. And I think there’s more to that maybe in the subtext, but no, we weren’t necessarily surprised by that.

Libbe HaLevy 

03:34:57

Melissa, as Derek mentioned, you received support from Kim Kardashians in regard to Santa Susana field lab. How did that happen? How did that come about? What did that look like and what might that speak to about her continuing involvement?

Melissa Bumstead

03:35:16

Well, first I want to say that Kim and Courtney Kardashian are lovely women and really fierce moms. You know, you see the Hollywood them and then them at home. And I was just really so thankful they got involved. It started with the Woolsey fire and we tweeted out, we were concerned because we had tried to reach the California air quality control actually did reach them the board. They decided not to issue a air quality warning. And we were concerned the next day that the children would be out in their schools, breathing in what has proven to be contaminated, smoke and Ash. Well, we know at least from the water. So she saw our tweet. She retweeted it. All of a sudden we have a hundred thousand new signatures on the petition. And again, like, like Derek said, that brought in other elected officials, people maybe who had kind of been on the sidelines realizing, you know, I think she’s got like 80 million followers on Twitter.

Melissa Bumstead

03:36:14

She’s a powerhouse. I think people don’t really quite realize that. And so when she was willing to get involved with us, she actually had Denise and I, and another friend on the show, keeping up with the Kardashians. They came to our 50th anniversary event and they just continue to tweet. They tweeted about the film coming out the other day, they’ve tweeted about, you know, when we got into really serious situations where we needed public attention to be focused on they’ll, they’ll tweet about it. So they’ve just been very generous with their privilege. And we’re incredibly thankful for them

Libbe HaLevy 

03:36:47

Now that the film has started to pop out through a film festival circuit, a digital film festival circuit, it’s still in limited accessibility, but what has been the response to it, Melissa? What has been the response within the moms and the community that you’re in contact with around Santa Susana field lab,

Melissa Bumstead

03:37:09

All the families that I know have just been sending in text messages and calls and emails saying how grateful they are, that the story was told, a lot of the families on the film have lost children. I know for my daughter, it’s, it’s empowering when you see that you’ve suffered, but now there’s something that might come good of it or might be able to stop other children from getting cancer. So there’s a lot of gratitude. And again, I think an appreciation for how tenderly they treated the subject, you know, I’m looking forward to it going to even bigger, which I know it will. It’s not that anybody wants SFL to be a household name. And yet I think that’s what we need to get our cleanup. And then again, to take that to other places across the nations,

Libbe HaLevy 

03:37:55

I think the parallel for me would be the film atomic Homefront and what that did to focus attention on the need for the Westlake landfill clean up in north St. Louis. And it was successful in really accelerating and putting undeniable attention on an issue in a way that wouldn’t happen from just a bunch of people calling a representative and being moved off. Derek, how about you? What have you been hearing back about the film?

Melissa Bumstead

03:38:24

My mom said she loved it. We’ve been hearing great things, but I think for us it’s tricky because for us, the thing that’s most important is that we want people to see it for the sake of the community, for the sake of Melissa and everyone to bring awareness to it. So being able to get it out in front of his business people as we can, even in these early stages, we’re in our second festival. And again, like I told you in the beginning, it’s only available because of COVID and the virtual situation. We’re just trying to strategize how we can get it in front of as many eyes as we can, knowing that, you know, feedback’s going to be mixed. Of course, we’re going to have negative views. That’s fine. That comes with the territory. But the goal is to get eyes on it and bring awareness to it.

Melissa Bumstead

03:39:10

So, so far so good on the heels of what Melissa said earlier, Kim and Courtney Kardashian using their platform to raise awareness and to put eyes on the film and the situation, things like that. I would call that a little thing, but it’s not, it’s a huge thing. Things like that make a big difference and make you feel like, okay, we’re doing something that might create some traction. Fingers crossed. Hopefully it picks up. And like Melissa said, Santa Susanna can be put in different areas around this country, the map and the film shows there’s quite a few of them. So there are a lot of communities that have similarities with semi valley and the surrounding area.

Libbe HaLevy 

03:39:52

What are the distribution plans for the film?

Melissa Bumstead

03:39:55

Oh gosh, we’re so green. We’re so new to this. Cross our fingers and say a couple of prayers. I guess we are going to enjoy the festival circuit for a couple of reasons. It was something that we always wanted to do for a little bit, but also because we have a little more control, might be the wrong word, but we have a little more hands-on control in the sense that we know where it’s going, as opposed to when distribution hits a situation like Netflix, Amazon, HBO, that’s the dream. That would be amazing. But we also know that there’s this stage a layer of views that come before that and being that this is a current issue. We’ll gladly speak with anyone that’s interested, but we’re going to enjoy the festival circuit while it’s available to us.

Libbe HaLevy 

04:40:46

Where is the film available right now, as we are talking on April 9th, 2021,

Melissa Bumstead

04:40:54

It is available through the Cleveland international film festival streaming platform.

Libbe HaLevy 

04:41:00

We will link to it on the website, nuclear hot seat.com under this episode number 512, because we think it’s really important that people take a look at what this story is. I’ve covered it in chunks through the years, including interviewing Dan Hirsch, Denise Duffield Melissa. I have been at some of the events that they’ve had. This is a thorough soup to nuts covering that really gets into all the details in the right way. And that brings me to the heart of the movie and the heart of the movie. Melissa, is you and your daughter, the moms, the kids, the ones that have survived, and the ones who sadly have not. There was a moment in the beginning of the film that shows you speaking in front of, I forget what group of quote unquote experts it was,

Melissa Bumstead

04:41:58

Was a meeting in front of the Los Angeles water control department that we were testifying right after the Woolsey fire. They had 57 exceedences, which is huge.

Libbe HaLevy 

04:42:09

I actually have a neighbor who works for DTSC and I saw her while the Woolsey fire was still burning. And she said, oh yeah, we’ve been out there. There’s not a problem. And she couldn’t hear it, but she also doesn’t wear a mask. So that’s just who she is. But what really struck me in that first two minutes of the film was you saying, speaking of your daughter and the picture of love that you have for your child, for your children and beyond that for the other children really touched my heart. But in this case you held up a necklace of beads and you said that for each one of the procedures she goes through, she gets, what were they called? A courage

Melissa Bumstead

04:42:52

Beads of courage is a foundation that gives these out to pediatric cancer children.

Libbe HaLevy 

04:42:57

And it was this, you know, pretty much, I mean, if it was pearls, it would be like mid-length necklace. And you said that was from her first month and here’s what else she has gone through. And you started pulling out yard after yard, after year. And it was such a visual that my mind was rioting and thinking, stop already stop. How can somebody that young be put through so much is just heartbreaking. And from that human beginning to then find out the malfeasance and the lies and the cover up and all the rest of it, and then bring it back to the mothers, the children in north St. Louis. It was the mothers who did it here again. It is the mothers who are bringing this forward was tremendously powerful because it put a human face. And I have to ask, how has your daughter doing now?

Melissa Bumstead

04:44:00

Thank you for asking. Yeah, she’s three years cancer-free she had an anonymous donor, 10 out of 10 match saved her life with a bone marrow transplant. So we’re incredibly thankful, but I will also say that she will have lifelong health effects from the treatment she received to save her life. And 80% of all pediatric cancer survivors will have a life threatening health condition by age 40. I just want to throw that in because people, I don’t think people realize how traumatic childhood cancer is. They think it’s sad because they lost their hair, but is inhumane. And so we’re so thankful she’s a survivor. We’re so thankful that she’s doing so well.

Libbe HaLevy 

04:44:39

You’ve already put this out Derek a little bit, but if you were to put out a vision of where this film would go, what it would achieve and what it would lead to say for your career, as well as to the cleanup of Sadducees Zana, what would that be?

Melissa Bumstead

04:44:58

Well, you mentioned atomic home front, and I’ll say that that’s something that we watched early on because we were trying to download sort of information and how to, to tell a story like this. They did an amazing job to get that in front of the public’s eye. And I think looking forward that is the goal, get it in front of the public side. However that happens. That’s how we’ll take it. And we know technology is evolving and moving quickly, and there seems to be a new streaming platform every day it’s available. So whoever is interested in putting Melissa and Gracie story on their streaming platform. We’ll take that with the world. That that would be amazing. And in terms of career, I don’t know. I don’t, I’m not sure this is current and this is present and this takes priority over everything. So I haven’t really thought that far ahead. I’m not sure. I’m not sure what I’m having for dinner tonight. So that might just be me

Libbe HaLevy 

04:45:57

And Melissa, where do you see this going and how much longer, how much further, how much harder are we going to have to push and how much smarter are we going to have to push to get this cleanup?

Melissa Bumstead

04:46:12

Well, I think Derek was right saying like, it’s a community effort in this situation. It’s going to be a national effort. And I think that as more and more voices are starting to speak up saying, this is what’s happening in my community. You know, the public awareness as a whole is I think they’re going to start questioning what is happening first of all, and what is right and what is wrong and what are the policies and the laws in place that are allowing this to happen. And how can those be changed? Originally? This was not my direction for my life at a very quiet little life planned out, but it was really happy about, but now I feel like this is the path God has me on. And there’s a lot of people who need help. It’s like one of those situations, you can’t unlearn it once you’ve learned it.

Melissa Bumstead

04:46:57

And I don’t know that I could sleep at night knowing that I wasn’t still doing something to help when there’s so many, even just locally, so many families suffering from this. So probably do this till I die. And hopefully that’s not soon because it’s so stressful, so stressful, so exhausting. But you know, luckily like Derek said, the one thing that comes out of this is how many amazing people that we’ve been able to meet the support networks that have come around us. So I know, I know we’ll get through I’m, I’ve got a lot of hope and actually a huge amount of that hope comes from the documentary because it’s so hard to learn about these things and so many levels and the documentary just really breaks through to help people understand. And again, not just the facts, but the heart of the real problem.

Libbe HaLevy 

04:47:46

Derek, if people were to contact you or get on a mailing list in your database somewhere to get updates about the film and where it is available, how can they do that?

Melissa Bumstead

04:48:00

We do have a website. It is in the dark, the valley.com, very proud of getting that domain. And we’re going to keep that platform active in terms of, you know, the media and future festivals, as well as story points. So for example, if something else breaks and the papers, or Melissa has more news for us, we’re going to put it on that platform so that people are current. And that’s something that we try to do towards the end of the film with the credits, because, you know, like I said, in the beginning, you can’t tell the story in a hundred minutes. So we want to be able to give people a place to check in if they want to

Libbe HaLevy 

04:48:37

Great. We will link to that as well on nuclear, hot seat.com under this episode. Any final thoughts from either of you,

Melissa Bumstead

04:48:46

I think, to be able to do what Melissa is doing and has been doing, and to take that on knowing what Gracie went through and then what Luke went through and what Chad or husband went through. I think that takes a special person and that’s something that not all of us have characteristics that not all of us have. I certainly don’t know how it’s done. And I just want to say Melissa and the community that allowed us to come into their homes to answer question you asked before. And I didn’t mention what I should have. That’s how this project got done is is the community being open to us telling that story and Melissa being an Avenger of sorts, a superhero and allowing us to follow along tag along and loiter and various meetings that we’re extremely grateful for. And we hope the final product tells their story in a way that makes her proud, Melissa, I know you’re listening and you’re right there, but that’s what my final thought is.

Libbe HaLevy 

04:49:47

Melissa.

Melissa Bumstead

04:49:48

It’s hard to say anything after that, really, if people would like to sign our petition, it’s changed.org, backslash Santa Susanna. We also have a parents against sfl.com where we have all of our updates and links and research. The one good thing that I’ve seen come through this, I think is that I think people underestimate their own power and their own importance from girl scout, troop leaders, to mailman, to dog walkers. I mean, each of us has like a little domino that is in the bigger game. And when we set them all in place, by doing whatever we can to make the world, right, you just never know what domino you’re going to sit off what set of action that could really make a huge change without you realizing it. And so I don’t think that you have to be trying to fight a nuclear meltdown site to really make a big difference in the world. And I would just so thankful for the people who’ve given what they have to give. And I think that is what makes all the differences when we all work together.

Libbe HaLevy 

05:50:50

I’m certainly grateful that the two of you work together to create what is, I believe ultimately, a game changing film as it comes to the awareness of more and more people. We’ll certainly do what we can here on this show. And for now, besides my gratitude for the film that you made, I’m deeply grateful that you have been with me this week as my guests on nuclear hot seat.

Melissa Bumstead

05:51:15

Thank you so much. Thank you for having us. It was

Libbe HaLevy 

05:51:18

A pleasure that was Simi valley, mother, Melissa Bumstead and film producer, Derek Smith. We will have links up on the website to parents against satis Susana field lab. And that link will lead you to ways to get involved. Their events, calendar updates, research links, and more. There will also be a link to the petition at change.org/santa Susanna, which calls for the comprehensive cleanup of the saddest Susana field lab site and has over 730,000 signatures make certain you add yours. And in the dark of the valley is available until April 20th, 2021 at the Cleveland international film festival. We’ll have a link up to where you can buy your online ticket and we will keep you abreast of where the film will be available in the coming months.

Libbe HaLevy 

05:52:19

On a sad note, we wish to acknowledge the passing of activists, Phil Arnott, who is 96 and three quarters years old. Phil had been a world war II bomber pilot over Germany who became an environmental activist, anti-nuclear lecturer and storyteller. He worked with physicians for social responsibility and spoke with them as a volunteer, more than 50 times. He was based in Marin county, California, and he will be missed by his associates and all those who worked so steadfastly to tell the uncomfortable truths about nuclear and promote action against it. Speaking of action, there’s been a lot of it. And some important zoom in ours are coming up and some important series have been posted. This is fast, but on April 15, the native American club will be presenting on Thermi issues, dangers and alternative energy options. The Fermier reactor is on the shores of lake Erie, halfway between Detroit, Michigan, and to Lido, Ohio featured speaker will be Jessie deer in water.

Libbe HaLevy 

05:53:28

And on April 24th, there will be a zoom in our, on building political support for the nuclear ban treaty. It will take place as of 10 30 in the morning, Eastern daylight time here in the United States and is being presented by the women’s international league for peace and freedom. Fairwinds energy education has a new nuclear spring series, highly informative, highly vetted. This consists of videos and articles and beyond nuclear international has started a new series on talking points. Key message points needed to make the case against nuclear power drawn from scholarly works and peer reviewed reports and condensed into compelling arguments of fact. I wish I’d had these available almost 10 years ago when I was starting the show. In any event, we will link to all of this on the website, nuclear hot seat.com under this episode, number 512, and our thanks to both Fairwinds energy education and beyond nuclear international for highlighting to your followers, nuclear hot seat, episode number 509 3 mile island nuclear meltdown at 42, never forget nothing means more than the acknowledgement and respect of one’s peers.

Libbe HaLevy 

05:54:48

And here’s the latest nuclear hot seat ranking news. We just debuted in Norway at number 43 under business podcast. Now, if you’d like to help us accumulate more and better rankings on this new service that I’m using, just download nuclear hot seat from apple podcast, download a whole bunch of them. That can be in addition to getting it via email every week. If you’ve signed up to get the show that way it will all help to support some future moves that are being planned out for the show to expand and reach even more people. If you can help with that many things, this has been nuclear hot seat for Tuesday, April 13th, 2021 material for this week show has been researched and compiled from nuclear-news.net to own renard.wordpress.com beyond nuclear international.com the international campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons, or I can Kings bay plow share seven.org and that’s the number seven, the center square.com grand canyon trust.org.

Libbe HaLevy 

05:55:53

The daily beast.com Erika gray, Jim Torson yahoo.com. The guardian.com futurism.com fairwinds.org. My nietzsche.jp NHK dot O r.jp asahi.com. New York times.com Norbert and the international uranium film festival luxury launches.com S gvv.org and the captured and compromised by the industry. They’re supposed to be regulating nuclear regulatory commission. If you have an interest in a nuclear issue that was not covered on today’s show, you can go to the website, nuclear hot seat.com and search for the subject of your choice. We have over 500 episodes with material in it and whatever your nuclear concern, you will find it there somewhere. Now I mentioned the email before, and I’m going to do it again. You can get nuclear hot seat delivered via email to your inbox every week. And it’s real easy to do. Just go to nuclear hotseat.com, scroll down, or look around for the yellow opt in box and sign up with your first name and an email address to get the latest show.

Libbe HaLevy 

05:57:09

You will get it as soon as it is posted on the internet. If you have a story lead a hot tip or suggestion of someone who interview send an email to [email protected] And if you appreciate weekly verifiable news updates about nuclear issues around the world, take a moment and go to nuclear hot seat.com. There’s a great big red button there. And if you click on it and follow the prompts, no that anything you can do to help us out will help us out. And we really do appreciate your support. This episode of nuclear hot seat is copyright 2021 Leiby Halevi and heart history communications, all rights reserved, but fair use allowed. As long as proper attribution is provided. This is Leiby Halevi of hardest street communications. The heart of the art of communicating, reminding you that dangerously radioactive nuclear waste is for ever. So let’s stop making any more of it. Now, there you go. You have just had your nuclear wake-up call. So don’t go back to sleep because we are all in the nuclear hot seat,

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05:58:24

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