Nuclear fallout - Page 2

Community concerned about the Navy's plan for radiation cleanup at Hunters Point Shipyard
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"There was no end in sight for the Navy," Forman said. "It didn't look as if we were doing what we were meant to do: namely, find Navy-caused spills."

Forman also criticized the Navy's old groundwater remedy as being "very passive." He proposed a remedy that includes more monitoring along the shoreline and using contaminant-eating bacteria to cleanup groundwater contaminants.

"The old remedy did not consider risks to wildlife and aquatic organisms at the shoreline, whereas the amended remedy will," Forman noted. "It was silent on this issue, yet we know the area has a shoreline."

Ultimately, amending the Navy's cleanup plan is "about protecting human health and the environment," Forman said.

Green Action's Marie Harrison was critical of the Navy's failure to explain the risks in simple terms. "You talked about risk assessment, but you never told us what the risks were," Harrison said. "What is the risk to human life? How is capping going to stop it going into the bay? I'm not a scientist. I don't have a PhD. I was hoping you were going to give me some kind of knowledge."

Harrison also worried that the Navy was not factoring in the cumulative risks for people living and working in the surrounding community who visit the shoreline to relax. Told that manganese, nickel, and arsenic are present in risky quantities, Harrison was referred to online information at www.bracpmo.navy.mil and to documents housed at the San Francisco's Main and Third Street libraries.

Other community members criticized the Navy for not doing enough outreach to the Samoans, Latinos, and Asians in the community, and for having taken too long to acknowledge radiological impacts.

"Do you really want us to believe that no one was aware of nuclear waste and spills, given this was a Superfund site?" said Espanola Jackson, a BVHP resident since 1948.

"What I expect you to believe," Forman replied, "is that until 2002, no one who had technical and scientific expertise had looked at the evidence, sifted through history, and done an analysis to put together a radiological assessment."

Jackson also accused the Navy of "fast-tracking the cleanup in order for Lennar to build houses," referring to the efforts of Mayor Gavin Newsom, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and others to hasten the shipyard's cleanup and early turnover to the city so the area can be turned into a massive development project pursuant to the voter-approved Prop. G.

"We are not going to accept anything less than total cleanup," Jackson said. "If you have to move that dirty dirt, do it. We need $10 billion. You said $60 million. You can't even scrape the surface with that amount."

Melanie Kito, the Navy's lead remedial project manager, replied that the Navy is "chartered to clean up releases of spills from Navy activities. Whatever remedy we put forth, we have to demonstrate that we are protecting human health and the environment."

Kristine Enea, a member of the community-based Restoration Advisory Board, told the Guardian that she felt that the Navy did not do a great job of explaining the risks of contaminants in, say, a major earthquake.

"If there's an earthquake, would the risk be like getting 10 x-rays at once, or having a three-headed baby?" Enea said.

Pamela Calvert, deputy director of Literacy for Environmental Justice, told the Guardian she's worried about shipping the contamination elsewhere.

"I'm really concerned that we don't solve problems in Bayview by creating ones for another community," Calvert said. "It's best to deal with it here.