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San Francisco is home to the former Hunters Point Shipyard. Once called “the world’s greatest shipping yard,” it was declared a federal Superfund site in 1989, defined by USEPA as “one of the nation’s most contaminated lands.” Contaminated by radioactive and toxic waste from decades of military and industrial use, including toxic metals, PCBs, radionuclides, pesticides and volatile organic compounds. Numerous studies document Southeast SF is burdened by adverse health impacts due to cumulative exposures to toxic air pollution, carcinogens and industrial waste.
Our story begins on any weekday morning in the mid 1940s, when thousands of men, migrants from the American South to “Frisco,” converged upon the gates of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard on their way to work. To do their jobs building and repairing ships for the biggest employer in the San Francisco Bay Area during the war time economic boom. By 1908, the San Francisco Drydock, operating at the shipyard, had become “the world’s greatest shipping yard.”