by Luke Warner
Categories: Film/TV.

Picture 4

Alright, this is a little off of the radar but the LA Times just published a pretty in-depth article about a strange respiratory sickness, dubbed the “Downey flu”, that is affecting crew members who have been working at the California studio. I’ll be the first to say that it is still unclear whether the conditions at Downey Studios are causing the illnesses but it’s an interesting story especially since the studio was built in a former NASA aerospace construction site where work was done for the Apollo crafts.

Most recently the site has been the host to such productions as Spider-Man, Catch Me If You Can and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and many many more. It’s one of the most popular studios in the business.

According to the Times, “Gerald Caton, Downey city manager, vigorously defended the cleanup of the former NASA plant: “There’s probably not a site in America that has been more thoroughly evaluated from an environmental point of view.” But at least 34 workers have filed worker’s comp claims and some have refused to work there which, as the paper notes, is rare in the hardcore community of set crews.

While trying to deflect the blame from any Downey-specific or NASA-related causes, one of the lawyers noted that “a lot of these guys work with fairly toxic materials in their line of work.” Sounds like a broader call to clean up behind-the-scenes to me. I hope all of these guys get their dues, inspire and get well soon.

  • Charles Phillips, MD

    The real story is that Kaiser has a big, new hospital on the same site.

  • Steve Basile

    Thanks for the attention We need all the help we can get getting the word out in these extreme unhealthy work conditions. richard just scratched the surface.
    Again thanks.

  • Sandi Trend

    AND SO DO THOUSANDS OF OTHER US CITIZENS!!!. From the Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2007 “Amid Suits Over Mold Experts Wear Two Hats, Authors of Science Papers Often Help With Defense”… From the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, “American College Of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, A Professional Organization In Service To Industry”… “A Critique of the ACOEM Mold Statement, Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest” by James Craner, IJOEH… Congressional and Senate hearings into the conflicts of interest – among those entities that establish US health policy over environmental exposures with the express purpose of limiting financial liability for insurers and employers – are OWED to the American public by our elected officials. DOWNEY TOXIC INJURED WORKERS AND THEIR ADVOCATES CALL FOR US FEDERAL HEARINGS. 8/2/2009 The exposure of serious illnesses caused by the privatized former military industrial complex in Downey, California is unfortunately not a unique situation. Film workers from IATSE, Laborers and SAG as well as hospital workers who are members of the SEIU at the Downey Kaiser Hospital complex have been seriously injured as a result of the lack of proper clean-up and in what we believe is a cover-up by the developer Stuart Lichter. The national privatization of US Federal toxic and radioactive dump sites and former military industrial sites including military bases has become a hidden national scandal. Workers and people living in communities on and around these bases and former toxic dump sites have become contaminated and sickened by the failure of the Federal government government to enforce the clean-up and properly supervise it. Instead under the “Brownfield” scheme, these sites have been turned over to private developers like Stuart Lichter with the promise that these sites will be “cleaned up” properly. The main goal of these developers is to put these sites into use as soon as possible to make a large profit. As we all know, cities and communities around the country who face very difficult economic conditions want to develop these sites for business and taxes. This however must not be done over the dead bodies of children, workers and members of the community. Although Senators Boxer, Feinstein and Los Angeles area Congressman Henry Waxman have been contacted many times and provided with extensive information about the danger of the Downey toxic/radioactive dump site they have refused not only to meet with the affected workers but to call any hearings and investigations about the failure of this national privatization program of toxic/radioactive dump sites. We, the following publicly call for Congressman Waxman to meet with the injured workers and to prepare and carry out US Congressional hearings in the Los Angeles area not only on the Downey toxic site but also how this living nightmare at these sites has been allowed to fester for many years around the country We also call for Senator Boxer and Senator Feinstein to call hearings in the Senate as well. Finally we call on Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey who is subcommittee chair on the Workplace safety and Congressman George Miller who is chair of the Congressional committee on Education and Labor to also call hearings with testimony from injured workers around the country about the failure of the Federal and State government to properly supervise the health and safety protection of workers and veterans on these sites and other contaminated buildings such as our nations schools. Workers have contacted OSHA but OSHA has refused to do it’s job in protecting the health and safety of these workers. Leonard Martin, Injured Downey Studio Worker former Executive Board IATSE 4 Gail Shephard, Injured Kaiser Downey SEIU UHW Member Dr. Ahimsa Sumchai Porter, San Francisco Dina Padilla, Injured Kaiser Worker and CA Director Of VOICES/BEST, Citrus Heights, California Sharon Kramer, Advocate, Escondido, California Carol Long, Injured Worker Poway, California Joe Bennett Steve Basile, Injured Worker Downey Studio Mary Trent, Cuyahoga Falls Ohio Steve Zeltzer, CCWMD San Francisco, California For information contact Steve Zeltzer Chair California Coalition For Workers Memorial Day (415)867-0628 This soapbox alert was posted by Sharon Kramer, Escondido, CA

  • http://downey.kaiserpapers.info Gail Shepahrd

    For Immediate Release Contact: Steve Zeltzer
    August 8, 2009 (415) 867-0628

    Downey Studios and Kaiser Permanente Injured Workers Demand Answers and Adequate Health Care Following Life Altering Injuries from Toxic Dump Site

    Los Angeles, CA – Injured and ill-treated workers come together to speak out against the injustices they faced as employees of Downey Studios and Kaiser Permanente Downey. Unknown to a Senior Orthopedic technician and movie studio prop workers, they made their daily living working on a highly contaminated Brownfield site that contained TCE, PCE, and arsenic amongst 250 other chemicals. The irreparably injured workers are union members from IATSE Local 44, LIUNA 724 and SEIU UHW as well as other unions.

    The injured workers are now disabled and need medical care which is unavailable to them. Recent Los Angeles Times reports have brought their tragic story to the forefront of the public discussion. The injured and now disabled workers are coming together for the first time publicly to state their case before the court of public opinion. Government documents show that this work site was once a former NASA base/aerospace facility which had been used to develop neutron bombs, rocket fuel, missiles, delta rockets, and was the site of the first nuclear reactor in the State of California. Now, it is the worksite for movie industry workers and hospital employees and their patients.

    The injured and disabled workers have reached out to their elected officials and their elected officials have not reached back to them. Meanwhile, the imminent plans for the toxic site include the construction of future apartments.

    The injured workers will be available to speak to the media.

    WHAT: Downey Studios and Kaiser Permanente Injured Workers Speak to the Media

    WHEN: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 – 4:00 p.m.

    WHERE: Los Angeles Press Club
    4773 Hollywood Blvd.
    Hollywood, CA 90027

    WHO: Leonard Martin, Gail Shephard and 5-8 other injured and disabled workers
    Steve Zeltzer and the California Coalition for Workers Memorial Day

  • SallyEgg

    Maybe it’s the air conditioning? There are so many poor work places. I hope they figure it out soon. That’s disgusting!

  • Skye Basile

    My husband worked at Downey Studio’s and has had bloody noses, diarrhea, nasal problems, and his hands go through cycles peeling like a snake. It all started out when he was working there with flu like symptoms. And the dusty molds he brought home to me on his clothes, coat and boots to expose me. No one wants to take resposibility for the in jured workers. They need medical attention. But aren’t getting it. All the info about this property and it’s past and future are documented online and it’s not going to go away. Check out the sources given by other people making comments. And watch for future news.


    ive lived within a few miles of this building most of my life. There is also a childrens park directly across the street from the buildings. The ground has asphalt in spme of the oldest parts of the property is crumbling and turning to dust and blowing allbover town. I hope this issue is dealt with. Good Luck.