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Twenty years ago, the city of San Francisco moved thousands of its homeless and low-income residents into former military housing on Treasure Island, a small artificial land mass whose 55 years as a Navy base left it covered in toxic radiation. Today, construction on the island has it on track to becoming a bustling, upscale extension of the city. The problem is, some of those residents from 20 years ago are still there. So are thousands of others who have moved in since. So is the radiation.
I was born on July 11, 1954. My brother Charles was born on July 17. We’re cancers. We’re tough. He’s older than I am. He’s an Irish twin. We’re the same age for six days. I was born in a Kansas City hospital – County Hospital Number Two – a segregated hospital. Hospital Number One was for white people. Hospital Two was for Black people. Kansas was a border state. They didn’t have slaves, but they didn’t like Black people.
At 11:00 a.m. Monday, April 16, 2018, community organizer Steve Zeltzer introduced former Treasure Island residents Andre Patterson and Felita Sample, who had been invited to speak at this press conference where whistle-blowers exposed the malfeasance of remediation contractor Tetra Tech on Hunters Point and Treasure Island. “I want to introduce two people today who’ve been personally affected by the corruption and the coverup at Treasure Island."
My name is Felita Sample. My mysterious illnesses and my daughter LaKrista’s strange afflictions developed after we moved from San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood to Treasure Island. Imagine never-ending nausea and daily dizziness. You can’t tolerate the thought of food. You override this loathing and force yourself to eat. You soon find that anything edible, including water, triggers dry heaves that wrack your chest and abdomen.
After LaKrista and I were manipulated into moving onto Treasure Island, we discovered it was toxic and was making us sick. So we decided to tell the world. I experienced no ill health and had never been hospitalized until, in 2004, I moved to Treasure Island. Soon, my young daughter LaKrista and I manifested similar strange symptoms. Years later, I put two and two together. I learned that neighbors on my block suffered the same illnesses as LaKrista and I.
Four brave Treasure Islanders who've spoken out about the radiation and other toxins sickening residents have learned they face swift retaliation engineered by the powers-that-be. Mitchell Herrington lived on Treasure Island from 1999 to 2013, when he was harassed off the island by eviction. During his tenancy, Mitchell lived with a roommate who worked for Shaw Environmental. The fact that this Shaw employee had to be protected by a hooded hazmat suit suggested the serious danger of contamination present in his cleanup zone work.
The truth about the radiation and chemicals that poison Treasure Island has been deliberately hidden from view since 1941, when the Navy began using the island as a trash dump. To conceal the extent of the toxicity and the poisoning of many sailors and civilians, recent plans to redevelop the island have required powerful players to shroud activities there in an even thicker fog than the mist that daily crawls under the Golden Gate Bridge.
A “space mountain,” “a behemoth,” “a colossus,” “a palace for Jabba The Hut” and “a half-baked baked Alaska” – that’s how columnists have described George Lucas’ $400 million 300,000-square-foot Museum of Narrative Art, a collection of Americana and Hollywood memorabilia. On May 16, 2016, San Francisco Supervisor, Aaron Peskin, appeared on CBS Bay Area talk show “Matier in the Morning,” where he reintroduced Treasure Island as a site for the project.