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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."
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. 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Sixty years ago the name Bikini became famous for the nuclear bombs detonated there. The military took ships that had been exposed to fallout during those nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands to the United States Radiological Defense Laboratory (USNRDL) located at Hunters Point in San Francisco. In addition to toxic chemicals and nuclear isotopes, the USNRDL is contaminated with asbestos, from the extensive ship building and reconstruction.
Lennar’s track record in Bayview Hunters Point and on Yerba Buena Island clearly demonstrates a pattern of offering assurances they will provide poor, Black and Brown people affordable housing, then finding ways to renege on their promises and kicking them out. Join the protest by residents of Bayview Hunters Point, the Mission and Treasure Island at Lennar’s sales office at 645 Howard St., between Second and Third in downtown San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 28, at noon, for a rally and a quick march to US EPA headquarters.
Liz Washington dedicates her story to Treasure Island mothers suffering Child Protective Services’ human rights abuses. Liz Washington’s Tenderloin apartment door rattled. Bursting in, hands on guns, San Francisco cops grabbed her nursing infant. Liz’ daughter remembers her mom’s screams. “‘Please don’t take my baby!’” Even after moving to Treasure Island, Liz never escaped CPS’ ravenous appetite for masterminding abductions of her daughter and sons.
The social worker phoned. “We’re taking custody of Chris and Michael.” The boys were transferred to foster care in Oakland. The irony of this institutional child theft was that, after four months living off-island, despite a heavy fast food diet, the boys got better. Their stomach aches and painful constipation slowly dissipated. For Liz, the common denominator was that they were not drinking polluted island water. When they returned, so did their stomach aches.
Since 2000, when the family moved to the island, everyone has been plagued by mild to severe respiratory and gastrointestinal problems that they believe are caused by island pollution. These illnesses, however, have given Child Protective Services a pretext for repeatedly taking Liz’ children and placing them in foster care, accusing this devoted mother of dereliction in her child-rearing.
Is the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) board hearing San Franciscans’ concerns about radiation and chemical contamination, earthquake liquefaction risks and displaced persons’ relocation rights? Actually, no! Employing blocking techniques that capitalize on the fear of speaking in public, the formidable TIDA board is plowing ahead with Redevelopment, insisting on – while resisting – public input.
The headline, “Biological bad luck blamed in two-thirds of cancer cases, researchers say,” has received very wide coverage. Tell that to the people living at Hunters Point! If one ignores chemistry, biology, physics and history, then one might believe it. It matters little whether exposures occur at home, workplace or neighborhood – it is not bad luck, it is exposure to carcinogens, and they are additive and cumulative.
Generations of Treasure Island residents are living with radiation from the Navy ships exposed to the atomic bomb tests at Bikini in the South Pacific, which were brought to San Francisco to see if they could be cleaned. Though the Navy has the data, it never conducted longitudinal studies of adults and children it impacted with radioactivity. Help the people of Treasure Island win justice at the RAB meeting Tuesday, Aug. 19, 7-9 p.m., Casa de la Vista, 191 Avenue of the Palms, Treasure Island.
After working vigilantly to protect her kids from asbestos by moving out of an asbestos-filled home in Bayview Hunters Point onto Treasure Island, Sandy Agee found she had literally jumped from the frying pan into the fire. At this writing, Sandy and two of her children are exhibiting worrisome physical symptoms they developed only after moving to the island. Sandy’s blood tests came back positive for “thyroid problems.”
Whistleblowers at the Hunters Point Shipyard told a reporter, “I wouldn’t feel comfortable living there having a yard where I could grow a garden. Absolutely not." “I wouldn’t go there, I wouldn’t take my grandchildren there, I wouldn’t walk my dog there.” A Treasure Island whistleblower said, “My job is to protect people and the environment, and it’s just not getting done.”
The City of San Francisco appears to be launching a discriminatory retaliatory eviction targeting its Treasure Island toxin whistleblower, Kathryn Lundgren, and her family. Lundgren, mother of three teens, has repeatedly sounded the alarm outing the City and the Navy for collusion in neglecting to warn her and her unsuspecting neighbors that Treasure Island is a radioactive dumpsite saturated with chemicals, toxic mold, asbestos and lead.
Art student Maria Johnson, searching for Treasure Island friends, wandered in “cordoned off areas” to find bus stops. She “saw many buildings with asbestos hazards laden on them, graffiti made with spray paint and shattered, old windows. It looked very desolate. I am just shocked that we’re allowed to access this ‘normal’ location even though the island is basically contaminated beyond repair.”
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.
The fight by the people of San Francisco to hold the San Francisco Department of Public Health and mega-developer Lennar accountable for clean air and the health of Hunters Point residents endured another round Thursday, June 23, at City Hall. The verdict? Jury still out.
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