MacArthur Field... is often packed with hundreds of young soccer players. Errant balls often fly off the field and into a ravine that borders both the field and the dog park, and which is surrounded by a chain-link fence. And down in that ravine is evidence that this idyllic playland may have a poisonous heart.
Players and curious kids access the ravine through an unsecured gate on the VA field, ignoring the faded paper warning signs. The ones that say: “THIS IS A CLOSED SITE.” What those signs don’t say is that this ravine is the barely covered core of a radioactive waste dump, which stretches underneath parts of the dog park and borders the athletic field. From 1952 to 1968, UCLA and the West L.A. Veterans Administration, now called the Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Healthcare Center, used the land adjacent to and under the park to bury radioactive biomedical research waste.