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Driving the environmental health movement in southeast San Francisco is a clear sense of urgency and duty to protect current and future generations from an avalanche of toxic chemicals linked to cardiopulmonary diseases, cancers, neurological and immune diseases, behavioral disorders, birth defects and infant mortality rates. The investigative team included myself and pioneering community scientist Raymond Tompkins. Offering academic leadership were San Francisco State University chemistry professor Dr. Peter Palmer and UCSF School of Medicine Clinical Professor of Pediatrics Carol Miller, MD. Dr. Kim Hooper of the State of California Toxic Laboratories assisted in submission of the proposal.
The United States Navy is not a public health organization. It is a military organization complicit in an exploding public health crisis at the Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco, California. Yet, with no evidence-based human health risk data to support its pronouncement, the Navy is the lead voice in a deafening echo chamber of government officials, health department representatives and mainstream media outlets who absurdly claim no risk to public health or harm to residents, workers or the environment has occurred due to dangerous redevelopment activities on a federal Superfund site!
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.”
After 18 years subjecting San Franciscans who were homeless, poor and mostly of color to massive toxic hazards and environmental racism on radiation and chemically contaminated Treasure Island, the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA)’s redevelopment consortium – Five Point, Stockbridge Capital Group, Lennar, Wilson-Meany, John Stewart Co. and other financial interests – seem to be attempting to induce tenants to leave the island while forestalling possible legal roadblocks.
The air has gotten worse, not better. So these are some of the things that are caused by the dust, the construction and the latent chemicals they have not cleaned up since World War II – plus the current concentration of light industry just outside our neighborhood that all blows into our neighborhood. Yet currently less than 1 percent of African Americans who live in Bayview work in that area and reap the economic benefits. All we get is the pollution and death.
To: Lily Lee, Cleanup Project Manager, Superfund Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 - I wish to submit the following comments regarding human health and safety concerns stemming from the proposed transfer of HPNS (Hunters Point Naval Shipyard) Parcels D2, UC1, UC2 and associated buildings 813, 819, 823 and IR 50 storm drains and sanitary sewer lines.
Behind a chain link fence on Site 6’s northern border across Avenue M from the island’s Wastewater Treatment plant, the Navy stores, moves out and continually replaces a trail of thousands of large boxcar shaped containers full of radiologically toxic materials to be shipped off-island. “There have been several (high-radiation) shipments and about a thousand intermodal (containers) of radium waste shipped from Treasure Island.”
Think of Treasure Island as an iridescent green glowing ghost ship whose prow divides the blue waves as it navigates San Francisco Bay waters gliding northwest under the Golden Gate Bridge. On the tidy front lawn of your market rate or low income Site 12 rental brought to you courtesy of The John Stewart Co., it is as if you are standing at the bow of the radioactive vessel as it carries its toxic contents ever forward into a stunning red-gold sunset.
A survey sent in April of 2008 by the Union of Concerned Scientists to 5,419 EPA scientists reports that 900 scientists say the White House watered down documents regarding climate change and inserted industry language into EPA power plant regulations and that scientific advisory panel conclusions about toxic chemicals went unheeded.