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Showdown! Radiological data fraud at Hunters Point Shipyard 2018

January 29, 2018

Pack the Navy’s Open House on Radiological Cleanup on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at 451 Galvez Ave. Be there and be heard!

by Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D.

Greenaction has held repeated protests and press conferences to expose the fraud that endangers workers and residents in and near the Hunters Point Shipyard. They’ve filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to revoke Tetra Tech’s license. – Photo: NBC Bay Area

Breaking news reports in the mainstream media this week supplant the humble role the SF Bay View has played for over two decades in alerting the San Francisco community to the ongoing threats to health, safety and the environment stemming from the botched radiological remediation that continues at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard – a federal Superfund Site.

The NBC Investigative Team continues its unrelenting reporting on the most recent investigations by the U.S. Navy Base Realignment and Closure Program documenting new evidence of fraud in nearly half of soil samples in two parcels of land on the base. According to the SF Chronicle, “The draft ‘radiological data evaluation findings report,’ completed in September but not released publicly because it isn’t finished, found that out of 853 ‘units’ tested at the shipyard, 414 were either ‘suspect’ or showed ‘potential data manipulation or falsification.’”

Despite ample evidence that radioactive and toxic contamination at the Hunters Point Shipyard has not only been covered up but threatens human health and life daily, Lennar’s condo construction proceeds. Considering the name Hunters Point “too Black,” Lennar renamed their development the San Francisco Shipyard to attract upscale buyers. – Photo: Business Insider

Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice has taken heroic steps in sponsoring a monthly community led forum to identify pollution violations affecting the BVHP community and beyond. The Bayview Hunters Point Environmental Justice Response Task Force, www.bvhp-ivan.org, addresses the toxic and radioactive pollution and climate change that threaten the health and environment of Bayview residents.

Designated a federal Superfund Site in 1989, the shipyard is heavily contaminated with radioactive and toxic waste from decades of military and industrial use. The shipyard was used by the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory for over two decades. Ships exposed to atomic bomb tests were decontaminated here and research on the effects of radiation was conducted on the site.

Radioactive fuel from Operation Crossroads ships exposed to atomic blasts in the Pacific was burned in power plants on the shipyard and explains why products of nuclear fission including plutonium and strontium are present in shipyard soils. Researchers at the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratories located along Crisp Avenue, just south of where residential development is sited, poured effluents of radioactive waste freely into the storm drains and sewer system connecting the shipyard with the wider community and the San Francisco Bay.

Tens of thousands of Black workers were recruited from the South to work in Bay Area shipyards. Here, in a photo taken around 1943, workers at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard have finished the day’s shift and are headed home. Some 10,000 of them lived adjacent to the shipyard in Hunters Point. Many of their descendants still do, and they recall their relatives dying of diseases from exposure to the radioactivity and multiple toxins that were and are ubiquitous there.

As the founding chair of the shipyard’s Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) and Health and Environmental Science Editor of the SF Bay View newspaper, I have remained committed to the Principles of Environmental Justice:

“Environmental Justice calls for universal protection from nuclear testing, extraction, production and disposal of toxic/hazardous wastes and poisons and nuclear testing the threaten he fundamental right to clean air, land, water and food.”

In May of 2009 the Navy issued a letter of intent to dissolve the RAB based on conflicts with the community protection mandate the elected body chose to advocate for. Central to the decision was a unanimous vote of no confidence in the San Francisco Department of Public Health representative to the body. Amy Brownell continues in her negligent, irresponsible and corrupt role as a soil mitigation engineer, documented by a 2010 Civil Grand Jury report as being on the payroll of Lennar developers.

Greenaction struck a “Goliath” blow to the developers this week as petitioners for attorneys of the Golden Gate University School of Law Environmental Justice Clinic’s Steve Castleman and David Anton presented to the executive director of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission supplemental evidence of fraud perpetrated by Navy contractor Tetra Tech EC, Inc., in demanding the revocation of its license. That documentation is included as an exhibit in the Draft Radiological Data Evaluation Findings Report for Parcels B and G soil, dated September 2017.

As a former physician specialist with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and former attending physician for the Palo Alto VAH Environmental Registry, I have spoken to attorneys representing a shipyard worker who contracted a cancer rarely seen in African Americans after working on the residential development of shipyard Parcel A. I referred to the VAH registry a former Navy firefighter who resided on Treasure Island and developed a rare cancer linked to radiation and toxic exposure.

The Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory at the Hunters Point Shipyard performed experiments on how to survive a nuclear attack. This experiment involved keeping prisoners and civilians in a bomb shelter. – Photo courtesy TimePix

I am championing the determination of cause of death of Tetra Tech Radiation Control Technician Ray Roberson, who was incriminated in collection of the original fraudulent samples documented by Tetra Tech in its 2012 internal investigation. Roberson was identified by chain of custody for the fraudulent samples as being one of a number of Tetra Tech workers engaged in a well orchestrated effort to fraudulently clear the shipyard for hasty development. The Tetra Tech investigation documents his suspiciously timed death during the course of its internal investigation.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors failed to respond on Feb. 15, 2015, to a formal complaint sent to Gov. Jerry Brown, with copies directed to President Barack Obama and the FBI, titled “CCSF Board of Supervisors Abdication of Duty, Legal Abandonment and Gross Negligence in Oversight of Documented Hazards to Human Health & Safety at the Decommissioned Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, A Federal Superfund Site.” On Jan. 28, 2018, I called for a formal response to my initial complaint based in verified evidence of ongoing fraud in the remediation of the shipyard.

Additionally, On Nov. 16, 2017, I offered a formal presentation to the Bayview Hunters Point Environmental Response Task Force on the Navy’s anticipated final actions on the Parcel E industrial landfill, which is itself a federal Superfund site. Air monitoring studies conducted in October of 2017 identify pockets of methane gas in explosive concentrations greater than 50 percent volume in air are present near the landfill surface.

Even more disturbing than the Navy’s announcement that it will begin issuing a Finding of Suitability to Transfer for a toxic landfill as early as 2019 is the fact that in 2010 a change was made to the Shipyard development plan that creates a shipyard south multi-use district. This MUD will allow Lennar developers to site residential development adjacent to a toxic, radiation contaminated landfill that in 2000 caught fire and smoldered for 30 days.

One widespread source today of radioactive contamination at the Hunters Point Shipyard comes from sandblasting the ships deliberately exposed to nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific in a futile effort to clean them of radioactivity. Tons of radioactive sand were used to pave roads and pathways throughout the shipyard. – Photo courtesy TimePix

Showdown Hunters Point Shipyard 2018!

On Jan. 31, 2018, the US Navy has scheduled an Open House on Radiological Cleanup from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 451 Galvez Ave. Be there and be heard. It is time to take a stand against the final straw of criminal negligence, coverup and dangerous corruption that is driving the shipyard development like a diesel powered train on a track to nowhere!

Demand the Health Department immediately terminate Amy Brownell, the soil mitigation engineer paid by Lennar!

Demand the California Attorney General’s Office investigate the criminal fraud documented by Tetra Tech and the U.S. Navy!

Demand federal investigations to identify potential city government complicit actions!

Demand the Board of Supervisors identify who changed the Shipyard Development Plan in 2010 to site housing adjacent to a toxic, radiation contaminated landfill that harbors explosive concentrations of methane gas!

Demand the Nuclear Regulatory Commission immediately revoke the license of Tetra Tech!

Demand the San Francisco Department of Public Health institute a toxic registry for the Bayview Hunters Point community!

Ahimsa Porter Sunchai, M.D. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

Demand CalOSHA and the California Attorney General’s Office investigate the suspiciously timed death of Ray Roberson, the Tetra Tech RCT most incriminated in the collection of fraudulent samples in Tetra Tech’s 2012 internal investigation!

Demand the Navy abandon efforts to transfer a toxic radiation contaminated landfill on Parcel E2 to the City and County of San Francisco for residential development!

SF Bay View Health and Environmental Science Editor 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.

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