donate or subscribe
Follow Us Twitter Facebook

Shipyard workers demand environmental justice

February 1, 2015

by Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D.

“Parcel A never underwent a full cleanup as required by the federal Superfund Act and was transferred with a litany of residual contaminants from lead and asbestos in buildings to arsenic, metals, motor oil and breakdown products of diesel in soil and groundwater.” This is documented in the Parcel A Record of Decision, a copy of which is included in my private archives of Navy cleanup documents. – Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D. “The Liars Club,” SF Bay View, Sept. 26, 2007

In its first year of earthmoving, 2006-2007, Lennar excavated 1.2 million cubic yards of earth. Many dangerous toxins are present in the soil and the dust. – Photo: Paul Chinn, SF Chronicle

In its first year of earthmoving, 2006-2007, Lennar excavated 1.2 million cubic yards of earth. Many dangerous toxins are present in the soil and the dust. – Photo: Paul Chinn, SF Chronicle

A cleanup worker at the decommissioned Hunters Point Naval Shipyard (HPS) in southeast San Francisco is facing a rare life threatening cancer he believes is caused by his exposure to known toxins at the federal Superfund site.

Diagnosed with a Peripheral T Cell Lymphoma (PTCL), an aggressive high grade lymphoid malignancy arising from cells of the lymphatic system with a five year survival rate of 32 percent, the worker has retained the high powered New York law firm Weitz & Luxenberg. Representatives of W&L’s Environmental Protection, Toxic Tort, Consumer Protection Team will be in Bayview Hunters Point this week conducting meetings and investigations.

On Dec. 17, 2014, Weitz & Luxenberg announced a New York jury took less than two hours to award a $20 million verdict to the family of a Navy shipfitter who died last year of mesothelioma, against defendant corporation Burnham, LLC. In issuing the verdict the jury opined, “The defendant corporation acted with reckless disregard for the plaintiff’s safety when it caused him to be exposed to asbestos insulating their boilers.”

T lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that plays a central role in cell mediated immunity. Many people are familiar with T lymphocytes because they are attacked by the AIDS virus and we measure their levels in people with HIV disease. In an aggressive lymphoma like PTCL, up to 70 percent of the circulating T cells can be in a cancerous blast form.

Research conducted in the 1990s linked solid cancers arising from cells of the lymphatic system to environmental exposures to PCBs, benzene, ionizing radiation, UV light and pesticides – all toxins that are widespread at HPS. In 2010 the Navy conducted a massive PCB cleanup action at HPS involving over 300 trucks.

The volatile organic compound benzene is listed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Elevated benzene levels have been documented in numerous air monitoring studies conducted in Bayview Hunters Point.

Radium 226 is the most ubiquitous radioactive material found at HPS. Present in “Black Beauty sandblast,” radium dials buried in landfills and poured down the drains of the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) on Parcel A, inhaled or ingested radium heightens the risk of developing diseases like lymphoma, bone cancers, leukemia and aplastic anemia.

Radium 226 is found at HPS in ambient levels so high that in October 2012, the U.S. Navy detected discrepancies in post remediation soil samples submitted by Tetra Tech field workers because the concentrations of radioactive potassium and Radium 226 were suspiciously low!

Lennar’s construction of it first 88 condos at the Hunters Point Shipyard, renamed The Shipyard by Lennar, was underway in June 2014. If potential buyers knew the dangers of the chemical and radiological toxins in the soil, would they pay a half million dollars to live there? – Photo: SF Curbed

Lennar’s construction of it first 88 condos at the Hunters Point Shipyard, renamed The Shipyard by Lennar, was underway in June 2014. If potential buyers knew the dangers of the chemical and radiological toxins in the soil, would they pay a half million dollars to live there? – Photo: SF Curbed

Tetra Tech is the Navy contractor overseeing the cleanup at HPS. A laboratory computer data base search identified 2,500 fraudulent samples collected from 20 survey sites involving Tetra Tech workers from 2008 to 2012.

Radiation Control Technician Ray Roberson was one of several field employees and supervisors listed on the chain of custody for the suspicious soil samples. Two of the field workers were terminated and Ray Roberson conveniently died at the conclusion of the damaging investigation.

“The investigation revealed that Ray Roberson was listed on chains of custody for four sets of systematic samples … These chains of custody are in conflict with statements made by these individuals … Shortly after this investigation, Ray Roberson passed away,” according to a report titled “Investigation Conclusion Anomalous Soil Samples at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard” by Tetra Tech Inc., dated April 2014.

“It’s playing Russian Roulette with the people that handle it and the environment … Someone from the general public could walk in, get contaminants on their clothes, their person, eat the food. They could have an intake of radioactive contaminants and it would never have been caught or avoided,” commented Bert Bowers, former radiation safety officer for Tetra Tech at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

Bert Bowers was hired by Tetra Tech to maintain compliance with federal mandates governing radiation protection and the handling of radioactive materials. He was just doing his job when he notified superiors he witnessed violations of protocols for the proper storage of contaminated radiation detection devices and inadequate signage and barriers to keep the public out of radioactive areas that had not been cleared.

Bowers told the NBC Investigative News Team on May 19, 2014, his experience at HPS was “the most egregious violation of standard protocol” he had encountered in his 35-year career.

In 2010 Bowers took photos of trucks and tanks hauling dirt and contaminated water from the shipyard that had not been tested for radiation or cleared for disposal.

Susan Andrews, a radiation safety technician who worked for Tetra Tech at HPS under Bowers, claims the sensitivity of portal monitors used to screen trucks for radiation leaving the job site was deliberately decreased below standards. The NBC News team confirmed her allegations that by lowering radiation sensitivity of the portal monitors, Navy contractors were able to “get dirt out that’s contaminated that should never have left Hunters Point. It’s not right. They can’t be shipping contaminated soil as clean landfill into the city of San Francisco!”

Bowers told the NBC Investigative News Team on May 19, 2014, his experience at HPS was “the most egregious violation of standard protocol” he had encountered in his 35-year career.

Bowers and Andrews submitted 30 formal complaints to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which investigated the claims as late as 2012 but was unable to substantiate the allegations. Bowers and Andrews lost their jobs with Tetra Tech after contacting federal regulators. They call it retaliation and have filed civil lawsuits.

There was no response to a sternly worded email I sent to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Oct. 1, 2014:

Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai used her mayoral campaign in 2007 to call attention to the urgent need for environmental justice. – Photo: Luke Thomas

Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai used her mayoral campaign in 2007 to call attention to the urgent need for environmental justice. – Photo: Luke Thomas

“As the 2001 founding chair of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board’s Radiological Subcommittee and contributor to the 2005 Draft Historical Radiological Assessment, I am submitting the Tetra Tech Investigation of Anomalous Soil Samples for your review. Please direct this serious matter to the Land Use Committee.

“This investigation documents from January 2008 to October 2012 2,500 anomalous soil samples were collected from 20 survey sites on Parcels C and E at HPS. These samples were thoroughly investigated and found to be fraudulent at 16 sites.

“At one site, soil was found to contain elevated levels of Radium 226, a gamma emitter capable of stripping electrons from human tissue. Please note the radiation control technician most closely implicated in the collection of the fraudulent samples via chain of custody determinations died at the conclusion of the investigation.

“I am demanding the San Francisco Board of Supervisors investigate the health and human safety consequences of four years of documented negligence and fraud in the handling of radiation contaminated soils at HPS and demand that Cal OSHA investigate the cause of death of a worker linked to handling of radioactive soils.

“The Board of Supervisors must demand that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the California Department of Health and the Navy Radiological Affairs Office respond to public and worker health and safety risks posed by the damaging findings of this investigation.” – Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D.

Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D., founding chair of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board’s Radiological Subcommittee and contributor to the 2005 Draft Historical Radiological Assessment, can be reached at asumchai@gmail.com.

Tags

Filed Under: SF Bay Area
Tags:

40 thoughts on “Shipyard workers demand environmental justice

  1. adminpool

    Careers change over time often by events totally beyond our control. Your company and industry may be dying and budget cuts restrict your ability to do your job and you are now expected to do more with less. Or your boss is beyond demanding, <a href="http://www.cheapssoftware.net” target=”_blank”>www.cheapssoftware.net

    Reply
  2. adminpool

    It is really sad because if a lay off comes these are the same people who will find it difficult to launch their job search quickly. It doesn't have to be that way! Here are three "must do" career success activities. <a href="http://www.vetwebdesign.net” target=”_blank”>www.vetwebdesign.net

    Reply
  3. adminpool

    Business networking is also important for career success. Keeping your network active can be fun as well as beneficial. Everyone has had colleagues and managers that have left the company to move on to other companies. To stay connected simply pick up the phone to say hello. <a href="http://www.software-uptodate.net” target=”_blank”>www.software-uptodate.net

    Reply
  4. Muhammad Talha Yasin

    In case you are within trend, you will likely can notice this the whole planet enjoys Trend Week think it’s great is Christmas. You're planning to comprehend why they are going to holiday over their particular base hoping to get some front-row Harley couch and ogling in the extremely alternatives.laindiefashion

    Reply
  5. Muhammad Talha Yasin

    Fashion lets us know a lot around any someone, just how that they decorate, that they will place their particular attire inside concert suggests someone they are really each evening. Possibly even people who claim never to ever what things to see happy just how that they will feel nonetheless show a tale concerning who they really are as properly as that which you act as.intafashionweek

    Reply
  6. Muhammad Talha Yasin

    Business networking is also important for career success. Keeping your network active can be fun as well as beneficial. Everyone has had colleagues and managers that have left the company to move on to other companies. To stay connected simply pick up the phone to say hello.softwareclip

    Reply
  7. Muhammad Talha Yasin

    It really is sad if a place off comes they are the same individuals who will find it hard to launch their own job research quickly. It doesn't need to be that method! Here tend to be three "must do" profession success actions.earthinternettechnology

    Reply
  8. Muhammad Talha Yasin

    Flights become quite typical around the globe and is probably the luxurious forms of transportationwhich a lot of people prefers to decide on. We arrive at find there are numerous incidents occurred like oxygen crashes and just about still the particular demand for this sort of travelling by no means changed. Especially in United states of america the requirement for oxygen travelling is at the top level. Here in flights the security precautions are high in comparison to road or perhaps ea transport which explains why the incidents that takes place with oxygen travels are usually veryless when comparing road or perhaps ea traveller.educationaleval

    Reply
  9. tanveer

    If you’re already on the property ladder, you might want to consider branching out. Perhaps you’re looking to get a second home? There are many reasons people might want to do this. For one thing, it could work out well as a holiday home.microfinancealliance.com

    Reply
  10. tanveer

    The selection of the Prom dress is a difficult task to do for the girls and they are really very conscious about their dress and their appearance on that special event. The “short prom dresses” are being worn by the girls nowadaysfashionmuseumweek.com

    Reply
  11. tanveer

    It takes a lot of looking around to find the right style. Getting wall decals to look the part is very important, and you simply need to look around as much as you can to find something that truly fits your own style and needs.organizinghomeoffice.com

    Reply
  12. tanveer

    Many of the human beings do not rear pets at home but a minority of them around the world is very fond of them and treats them with all the luxuries that they treat their kids. It is not that they are unaware of the health issues that these pets can cause but yet,thorhealthcareconsulting.com

    Reply
  13. tanveer

    There are over 83,000 attorneys licensed to practice in the state of Florida.Every year, an average of 7,600 disciplinary cases are opened. Through a process of investigation and review within the Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court,accidentlawmd.com

    Reply
  14. lgnetworksinc.com

    Business networking is also important for career success. Keeping your network active can be fun as well as beneficial. Everyone has had colleagues and managers that have left the company to move on to other companies. To stay connected simply pick up the phone to say hello.

    Reply
  15. essayontime

    Considerations of the skills of the soft nature are increased and magnified. It is implemented for the right and exact conception the skills are advanced and supplemented. It is done and fundamentally obscured and opposed. It is suggested and advanced with terms and conditions.

    Reply
  16. root guards

    Hello
    Really i appreciate the effort you made to share the knowledge.The topic here i found was really effective to the topic which i was researching for a long time
    Thanks

    Reply
  17. maid service dubai

    Once you place the initial contact through our customer support department, or fill in the contact form and indulge us regarding Duct washing Melbourne companies, our committed team of trained professionals offers you professional identical day program by noticing the technique outlined under:maid service dubai

    Reply
  18. packaging services

    residence removal is just packing upwards your tiny possessions inside boxes and also shifting people boxes and your entire furniture in to a van; driving in your new vacation spot and unloading the particular van nonetheless it sounds much simpler than it is actually (which explains why removals organizations charge the particular amounts they will do).professional movers in dubai

    Reply
  19. services

    Your bedbugs are inclined after anyone, so My spouse and i plan our attack all-around a core base. Much like war. Their me along with my buyer vs. your Bedbugs. They could hide to many people places to try to find all. But… could they is certain to get hungry and appear. Especially if the food origin is in close proximity to. So that is certainly where My spouse and i start here is the plan. I wipe out all readily available Bed Pesky insects and get the widespread and evident locations.pest control in dubai

    Reply
  20. Click here

    The internet has created a new type of business where skilled self-employed administrative professionals work from their homes providing administrative and organizational support to clients who can be down the street or across the globe.

    Reply
  21. پروتز سینه

    Usually I wouldn't discover posting with sites, having said that i wish to claim that this kind of write-up incredibly obligated us to undertake the idea! Your own crafting flavor has been surprised my family.

    Reply
  22. بای پس معده

    I’m very happy to discover this great site. I need to to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every part of it and I have you saved as a favorite to check out new information on your web site.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

BayView Classifieds - ads, opportunities, announcements