The Santa Susana Field Laboratory is a huge US government testing site that has been used for everything from rocket engines to nuclear reactors. It is also the location of what may be the worst nuclear accident in United States history, even though not many details are available about what really happened there in 1959.
Santa Susana was a nightmare facility in many ways. Even the most elementary of safety precautions were routinely disregarded. During the accident in 1959, workers were exposed directly to the contaminated area with no protective gear on at all. The facility used to get rid of dangerous waste by burning it in a pit, or putting it in a huge metal drum and having soldiers shoot at it to blow it up.
In one crew working at the site, twenty two out of the twenty seven men died of cancer. The workers were exposed to so much contaminated waste that one of them accidentally burned his wife just by giving her a kiss when he got home. The ponds at the site would literally bubble from the toxic waste in the water.
In the 1959 accident, a partial core meltdown is believed to have happened, releasing more radiation into the atmosphere than the later and much more famous accident at Three Mile Island. However, the facts about exactly what happened have never been released. The sheer recklessness and folly of the operations at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory were so extreme they're almost impossible to believe.