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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.
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.
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.