SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- Residents spoke during a Simi Valley City Council meeting Monday night, voicing their disbelief after learning the council is considering using groundwater for drinking water.
"I'm embarrassed to live in this town right now because I can't even believe with all of the facts that have already come out, you can even consider it," one woman said. "I thought it was April Fools or something."
At the root of their fear is the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, which was the site of a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959. The cleanup of toxins was supposed to be completed in 2017.
Many residents believe the site is to blame for multiple cases of cancer. Melissa Bumstead said she learned her little girl is one of dozens of children in her community battling the disease.
"While she was in treatment at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, we just kept meeting more and more families that also had cancer and they were our neighbors," she said.
She has gathered more than 268,000 signatures on change.org to demand the location be cleaned up.
"To feel the emotions that they brought to us tonight, I mean it's really powerful and something that every council member should be taking very seriously," Councilman Glen Becerra said.
The city depends on water from Northern California, and service leaders said it could be interrupted for months or years during a natural disaster. They believe using the groundwater is one of the options to consider as a local solution.
City officials said it is only in the beginning stages and will take public opinion into consideration, but many community members who spoke publicly said the option should be off the table.
"We're very early in this whole process, doing the feasibility study, doing the environmental review. I mean we're years away from making a decision on this," Becerra said.