A call for justice for the real victims in the Tetra Tech scandal: taxpayers and sick Treasure Island and Hunters Point residents

by Carol Harvey

Hunters Point and Treasure Island are historical Siamese twins, inextricably linked by Navy nuclear activity and toxic dumping. As Tetra Tech’s fakery and malfeasance is exposed, Hunters Point is receiving massive attention, but Treasure Island victims continue to be poisoned and evicted, attracting scant notice and no help.

Signs warning of radioactive soil contamination are ubiquitous on Treasure Island, some only a few feet from occupied homes. Severe illnesses, tumors and even death appear to be the consequences, as will be detailed in a soon-to-be-published series. – Photo: Carol Harvey

Taxpayers are footing the bill to the tune of billions for massive Navy remediation, botched cleanups and two redeveloped, but toxic, Naval bases, where, in the end, no one can safely live.

Experts agree that Treasure Island is as polluted as Hunters Point with a wide variety of toxins – not just radiation, but a heavy load of chemicals, asbestos, toxic mold, and the heavy metals arsenic and lead.

The public is unaware that since before 2004, Tetra Tech was involved in, and hugely botched, Treasure Island’s cleanup as well as the Hunters Point cleanup. Both Treasure Island and Hunters Point are EPA-designated Superfund sites.

As Tetra Tech’s fakery and malfeasance is exposed, Hunters Point is receiving massive attention, but Treasure Island victims continue to be poisoned and evicted, attracting scant notice and no help.

By keeping Treasure Island off the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites and creating a media blackout, federal, state and city politicians and developers who want Treasure Island’s buildout to go forward, have, for years, concealed the island’s massive toxicity and the presence of the sick people living there. To reveal the truth, these five stories will soon be published:

Part One: Poisoned

Without being informed the Navy had contaminated the place, sailors and their families and, later, poor and people of color were brought to Treasure Island, poisoned and made ill. Eight of these victims tell their stories in Part One.

Part Two: Why we are sick

Past and present Treasure Island tenants describe their diseases and the toxic soup of radiation, chemicals, asbestos, arsenic, lead and black mold that continue to sicken them.

Part Three: Bait and switch

Now that the rent money of poor and residents of color has been used to maintain and redevelop Treasure Island, and they and their kids’ lives are changed forever by the poisons, those who remain are being driven out to make way for wealthy tenants.

Experts and authorities believe this amounts to a pattern of environmental racism in which poor and people of color are preyed upon and used in a white supremacist land grab for money and profit. It is both classist and racist, but primarily racist because most of the victims are people of color, and white targets generally are getting a better deal.

Treasure Island tenants who largely rely on rental subsidies will be evicted if they protest or speak up. John Stewart’s recent series of “no cause” evictions amount to a reign of terror. To avoid the horror of being thrown off the island and ending up homeless on San Francisco’s streets like some of their neighbors, Treasure Islanders must maintain silence.

Part Four: Seduced and abandoned

The strange silence of Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Feinstein over the $1 billion US fraud scandal with Tetra Tech at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard” suggests powerful politicians Pelosi and Feinstein and San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim have turned a blind eye to these atrocities in their districts.

They have made no response to reports of the toxins that the Navy cannot clean, Tetra Tech’s faked data or the plight of the many people made sick by the contamination, then evicted. Their silence about serious problems in their districts, shared by a wide variety of power players, among them the Navy, HUD, Lennar, FivePoint Holdings partners and John Stewart, amounts to obstruction of justice and collusion.

Part Five: Justice

We name names. We list the entities involved in collusion and obstruction of justice on Treasure Island and Hunters Point. We question them about their role in this injustice and how they plan to redress it.

Carol Harvey is a San Francisco political journalist specializing in human rights and civil rights. She can be reached at carolharvey1111@gmail.com.