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Will Navy’s radiological survey of homes on Treasure Island mean evicting 2,600 residents?

March 26, 2014

Everyone in the Bay Area concerned about radiological cleanup is urged to attend the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) meeting on Wednesday, April 9, 6 p.m., at the Casa de la Vista building just inside the entrance gate on Avenue of the Palms

by Carol Harvey

Treasure Island sign 'Caution Hazardous Waste Area' 0314 by Carol HarveyOn Monday, March 24, following years of monthly Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meetings, including presentations of its years of ongoing remediation – or toxic cleanup – findings to a skeptical Treasure Island community, the Navy announced by press release “a radiological finding beneath a non-leased housing unit.” On that same day, at 2:30 p.m., work crews were observed massed inside a remediation zone near the island’s southwest corner, an area filled with uninhabited residences and surrounded by a gate bearing hazardous waste signs.

Based on this current unearthed radiological “hot commodity,” following years of presentations of similar findings, which the press release insists do not pose a health hazard, “the Navy has decided to conduct radiological surveys of all the units under lease within Site 12 at the former Naval Station Treasure Island.”

As recently as the Feb. 18, 2014, RAB meeting, community members repeated their serious concerns about dangers to themselves and their neighbors – 2,100 adults and 500 children – many of whom are showing signs health damage that some attribute to radioactive material, chemical contaminants, asbestos, mold and lead in island soil, air, water and structures.

Following vocalization of these worries, residents requested that the Navy test for toxic materials inside and under their dwellings. The Navy’s press release claims its decision to do this testing comes in response to these appeals.

The release goes on to say, “In the event a radiological survey of a housing unit reveals a health concern, the Navy will take immediate action to protect the residents.”

The release does not indicate the form the Navy’s survey will take or the exact nature of its “immediate action.” If the survey and field work involve digging under homes, this decision may involve displacement of residents.

Treasure Island resident Viet Nam Marine veteran Hakim believes island radioactive 031614 by Carol Harvey
“There’s still supposed to be radiation on this island,” said Viet Nam Marine veteran Hakim, a Treasure Island resident, when interviewed by Carol Harvey. – Video frame: Carol Harvey
The Navy announces it is planning a community meeting for Treasure Island residents to discuss the plan. For the concerned community, the question remains, if they are forced to move, where will they go and how will these mostly low-income people finance their “removal.” Perhaps these questions will be addressed in the upcoming meeting for which the date remains still to be announced.

The Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) will hold a meeting on Wednesday, April 9, at 6 p.m. at the Casa de la Vista building just inside the entrance gate on Avenue of the Palms. It is expected that TIDA, the San Francisco city government authority officiating over the island, will discuss, in whole or in part, the Navy’s recent decision to do this survey.

We encourage anyone in the Bay Area whose health, livelihood, home, family or wellbeing has been impacted by the Navy’s radioactive remediation projects anywhere or who is disturbed by the Navy’s long drawn out, costly partial clean-up efforts to attend this Treasure Island meeting and any future meetings for information and to provide valuable citizen input.

The office of District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district includes Treasure Island, followed the Navy’s press release with one of its own. Both releases are printed in full below.

Navy’s March 24 press release: Navy to survey homes on Treasure Island

The Navy continues to complete the environmental cleanup program on Treasure Island which includes finding and removing low-level radiological materials. Public health and safety remains the Navy’s highest priority.

There are currently no known public health hazards, but due to a recent radiological finding beneath a non-leased housing unit, and requests from residents during the Feb. 18, 2014, Restoration Advisory Board meeting, the Navy has decided to conduct radiological surveys of all the units under lease within Site 12 at the former Naval Station Treasure Island.

Treasure Island satellite image
Man-made Treasure Island as seen from space
“The Navy cares about the people who live and work on Treasure Island and is committed to protecting human health and the environment,” said Keith Forman, base realignment and foreclosure environmental coordinator. In the event the radiological survey of a housing unit reveals a health concern, the Navy will take immediate action to protect the residents.

Residents are being notified of the Navy’s decision to conduct these surveys. The Navy is working closely with the state of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, California Department of Public Health and the City of San Francisco on the scope of this work. As the field work is being planned, the Navy will host a community meeting for Treasure Island residents to discuss the details of the plan, receive input and hear concerns.

To learn more, contact Lee Saunders at 619-532-3100 or Lee.Saunders@navy.mil and visit www.bracpmo.navy.mil.

Supervisor Jane Kim’s March 25 press release: Supervisor Kim joins residents in their demand for answers from US Navy for latest Treasure Island radiological survey

San Francisco – In response to the U.S. Navy’s surprise announcement yesterday that they will be conducting radiological surveys of all the residential units within Site 12 at the former Naval Station Treasure Island, Supervisor Jane Kim is asking for details about the reasons underlying this decision and for specifics regarding the survey itself.

“The Navy has stated that it ‘cares about the people who live and work on Treasure Island’ and will ‘take immediate action to protect the residents,’” said Supervisor Kim. “So if I’m a resident and the Navy finds something that puts me or my family at risk, what is the Navy’s commitment and contribution to working with the City to ensure that I have a safe place to live? Moreover, are there any health concerns living here on the island while the survey is being conducted?”

“So if I’m a resident and the Navy finds something that puts me or my family at risk, what is the Navy’s commitment and contribution to working with the City to ensure that I have a safe place to live? Moreover, are there any health concerns living here on the island while the survey is being conducted?”

Supervisor Kim emphasized her willingness to work with the Navy and Treasure Island Development Authority to make sure that residents’ lives are as minimally impacted as possible during the survey. She further stated, “I am committed to working collaboratively with the Navy on this situation and my priority will always be the best interests of my constituents.

“Right now, Treasure Island residents want answers about when and how the survey will be performed as well as the reasons that the Navy is doing this now. In 2012, I held a hearing for details on the radiological situation on Treasure Island, specifically asking about how the City was going to hold the Navy accountable for the cleanup work for which they are responsible. I will continue calling for full transparency and solutions, whether it’s in regards to the power outages or the fears about radiation on the island.”

To learn more, contact Ivy Lee or 415-554-7970 or ivy.lee@sfgov.org.

Carol Harvey is a San Francisco political journalist specializing in human rights and civil rights. She can be reached at carolharveysf@yahoo.com.

Treasure Island resident Kathryn Lundgren responds to Navy’s announcement of its survey of island homes searching for toxic radiological material.

Treasure Island resident Kathryn Lundgren continues her response to the Navy’s announcement of its survey of island homes searching for toxic radiological material.

Treasure Island resident Kathryn Lundgren displays samples of toxic material she has collected from around island homes.

This interview with Treasure Island resident and Viet Nam Marine veteran Hakim was recorded about a week prior to the Navy’s survey announcement.

 

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