Community rallies to support bombshell report on Hunters Point Shipyard

‘Stop poisoning and killing us for profits!’ Hunters Point community residents and advocates speak out

by Steve Zeltzer

Hunters Point residents and community members rallied at San Francisco City Hall on Friday, June 3, 2022, to support a San Francisco Civil Grand Jury report that said that there had been no real oversight of the development of the Hunters Point Shipyard Superfund site. Over $1 billion of US government funds have been spent to remediate the Hunters Point site as well as Treasure Island, but as a result of fraud by Tetra Tech and Test America and retaliation against many OSHA and health and safety whistleblowers, the site continues to be contaminated.

The Civil Grand Jury report said that rising bay waters pose the threat of dangerous toxins and radioactive material being exposed and further contaminating the community and the entire Bay Area. Speakers talked about the continuing health dangers, and Dr. Ahimsa Sumchai reported on the cover-up of the dangers by government agencies and city, state and national politicians.

Speakers also demanded that the Navy’s earthmoving stop. The City is incentivized not to object to their earthmoving, despite the fact that it raises clouds of dust containing lethal contaminants that poison residents, by an arrangement that requires payment to the San Francisco Department of Public Health for its oversight. Demonstrators demand real oversight of their health and safety.

Dr. Sumchai also reported that UCSF managers had covered up the contamination of workers at an animal center in the Shipyard. Workers at the site, which is not far from the SF Police Department training center, where cancer has been rampant, had also been contaminated with radioactive isotopes from the radioactive site. Many have been fighting for workers compensation.

Steve Zeltzer and the Labor Video Project can be reached at lvpsf@igc.org. Listen to his WorkWeek Radio show every Thursday at 12 noon on KPOO, 89.5 FM and kpoo.com..

Bayview Hunters Point community and environmental justice groups respond to bombshell report from San Francisco Civil Grand Jury on Hunters Point Shipyard Superfund site contamination and threat from rising groundwater and sea level rise

Residents call on Board of Supervisors and Mayor Breed to implement Grand Jury recommendations and support full cleanup of all contamination

by the Bayview Hunters Point Mothers and Fathers Committee, Marie Harrison Community Foundation, Inc., and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice 

San Francisco – On Friday, June 3, Bayview Hunters Point community and environmental justice groups held a press conference on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to respond to the bombshell report from the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury, “Buried Problems and a Buried Process: The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in a Time of Climate Change”

Residents, including community leaders from the Bayview Hunters Point Mothers and Fathers Committee, the Marie Harrison Community Foundation, Inc., and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, called on Mayor Breed and the Board of Supervisors to immediately implement all the Civil Grand Jury’s recommendations. Residents also called on the mayor and Board of Supervisors to reject the transfer of any land to the City that is not completely cleaned up and to support the community demand for a complete cleanup of the Shipyard Superfund site that does not include capping waste at the shoreline.

Roman-Harrison-speaks-at-HP-Shipyard-rally-060322-by-Steve-Zeltzer-Labor-Video-Project, Community rallies to support bombshell report on Hunters Point Shipyard, Featured Local News & Views
In pictures taken 20 years ago of Mother of Environmental Justice Marie Harrison leading march after march and rally after rally, you’re likely to see a little boy hand in hand up front with grandma. Roman Harrison, now 25, is, like grandma, is now a dynamic speaker and worthy successor. – Screenshot: Steve Zeltzer

The Civil Grand Jury’s well-documented and critical report examines questions that many community and environmental justice groups have been asking for years: What risk does groundwater rise pose to contaminated soil at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard? Have the Navy, regulators, or the City and County of San Francisco evaluated this risk? The report found: “The intersection of rising ground water and buried contaminants poses a credible risk to human health and well-being. Given the rapidity with which the climate is changing, the City needs to take immediate and sustained action to protect its residents.”

Even more concerning, this report concludes that, as of now, none of the agencies involved in the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard cleanup process, including the Navy, US EPA, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and the City and County of San Francisco, have evaluated the risk that groundwater rise poses to the Shipyard. The jury found that the city, state and federal agencies “have neglected to investigate how groundwater rise may lessen the effectiveness of the Navy’s cleanup at the Hunters Point Shipyard Superfund site.”

Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice Executive Director Bradley Angel and Bayview Hunters Point Mothers & Fathers Committee for Health and Environmental Justice Director Leaotis Martin can be reached via bradley@greenaction.org.

San Francisco unprepared to handle new risks at the Hunters Point Superfund site

Civil Grand Jury releases ‘Buried Problems and a Buried Process: The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in a Time of Climate Change

The 2021-2022 San Francisco Civil Grand Jury released on June 1 a troubling report about the unaddressed risk of rising groundwater at Hunters Point and what it means for the cleanup and development of the heavily polluted former Naval Shipyard.

The Shipyard is a Superfund site where the Navy, overseen by EPA and state regulators, has been cleaning up extensive radiological and chemical contamination for over 30 years. As each stage of the cleanup is approved, the Navy has agreed to transfer property to the City. 

A developer, working with the San Francisco Office of Community Infrastructure and Investment, plans to build thousands of homes at the Shipyard, along with office towers, parks, a school and millions of feet of commercial space. Hundreds of homes have already been built, and a settlement was announced last year requiring Lennar, the developer, to pay the buyers $6.3 million for their loss of property value due to the scandal surrounding cleanup fraud.

Hunters Point is part of the biggest development in San Francisco since the 1906 earthquake,” said Michael Hofman, Civil Grand Jury foreperson.Yet neither the Navy nor the City is paying attention to what’s going to happen there when sea level rise pushes the groundwater closer to the surface.”

The Jury’s research found that when sea level rises, shallow groundwater near the shore rises with it and can damage infrastructure, cause flooding from below and mobilize contaminants in the soil. In the low-lying Shipyard, where the Navy intends to leave hazardous toxins buried, experts told the Jury that rising groundwater poses special risks to health and safety – and to future development.

“There’s so much at stake in the Hunters Point Shipyard,” Hofman said. “But inside the City, only a tiny program in the Department of Public Health is engaged with the cleanup. The City isn’t prepared to respond when things go wrong. And the City isn’t devoting the right resources to anticipate problems like groundwater rise at the Shipyard, while there’s still time to do something.”

To find the full report, please visit https://civilgrandjury.sfgov.org/report.html.

About the Jury: Every year, the Superior Court selects 19 San Franciscans to serve year-long terms on the Civil Grand Jury. The purpose of the Jury is to investigate the operations of the government of the City and County of San Francisco. Civil Grand Jury reports and information are available online.

To contact Civil Grand Jury Foreperson Michael N. Hofman and Jeff Weitzel, committee researcher, email hp.sfcgj@gmail.com
Bay View staff and investigative reporter Carol Harvey contributed to this series of stories.