ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE PLAGUES HUNTERS POINT SHIPYARD
Hunters Point Shipyard was deactivated in 1974 and over 10,000 personnel who were working were laid off. During World War II much of what took place is known to the world. Hunters Point Shipyard was famous for the ships it built. When Second World War broke out many ships were built as part of the war effort to help the Allies defeat Germany and Japan.
The Bay Area had just experienced the attack at Pearl Harbor and many had died at Pearl Harbor much like we witnessed the deaths on the mainland with the attack on the Twin Towers in New York. The war effort was on and thousands came from all over to work and build ships at Hunters Point. Foremost among the shipbuilding places in California was Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. But there is more to the story.
Hunters Point Shipyard was also the Nation's leading operator on the West Coast linked to radiological operations. Much of the work involved using radioactive materials in all sorts of ammunition, submarines, various projects involved testing radioactive material and there are credible reports of testing on animals. Hopefully, the Navy did not test radioactive material on humans but given the times and history of what happened during the war years – nothing can be ruled out.
The old timers remember the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) and some of them were associated with indiscriminate dumping of radiological materials not knowing that a time would come when their deeds would have to be accounted for. Now the Navy wants to track down anyone who worked and knew about what was going on. Of course most of those who worked at Hunters Point are now Senior Citizens and with time they cannot recall most of what happened. But, I still meet a couple who can recall burying animals who were tested and dumping toxic material because they were ordered to do so.
Mrs Laurie Lowman who works for the Navy and is from the Radiological Affairs Support Office (RASO) Yorktown, Virginia informed the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) members and others about the current Radiological Issues as of January 23, 2003. A final report was due some months ago but in view of what she has uncovered recently she promised that a report would be due by the end of this year – 2003. Much of her recent findings have led her and her new team to revisit many of the past findings, which were faulty.
Based of her findings many other State and Federal Regulatory Agencies will learn a lot. As and when cleanup has been certified by the Navy and a lot depends on Mrs. Lowman's report then the City and County of San Francisco may take over parcel by parcel. This is called a Conveyance Agreement.
There are expert environmentalists, others monitoring the gimmicks of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency who think they can just go into the Shipyard and start building. At this time it would be wise for the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency NOT to waste money on consultants, events and meetings which are more like dog and pony shows. This is a time for fiscal constraints and financially speaking the City is in the hole - over $350 million deep.
A former scientist who worked at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and was working on writing a book about his work and Radiological Findings died before completing his book not long ago. Now, Mrs Laurie Lowman has this added information and boxes of extra material to shift through and fine-tune her Radiological Report on Hunters Point Shipyard. She wants to be through with her work and as honest as possible. At least this is what she stated to the RAB and the public. We wish her well, as she will have to work very hard to produce a document that most every one is anxious to read. It is our sincere intention to move on and bring about some defined progress on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Radioactive materials and hot toxic sites can hamper progress but we hope not.
Added to the equation methane gas, which is being capped, and other contaminated sites and we are dealing with a task that is not easy.
Mrs. Laurie Lowman was very informative and forthright in her presentation before the RAB and will be conducting many person-to-person interviews to shed better light on what happened at Hunters Point. She should point out the adverse impacts left on Hunters Point Shipyard by the Radiological Operations. Hopefully, when we read the report we will learn for the first time and get a comprehensive picture of most of the Radiological Operations – their adverse impact on the land, the water, the air, the plants, fish, the buildings but most of all human beings. Short term and long term solutions to the problem.
Environmental Injustice plagues Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. The Navy has tried to attain some goals but in the past they have not gone about the business at hand with a Blueprint that is worthy of sound Accountability and Transparency. Millions was wasted and the little money that is available now should be spent wisely. The local community has not had a share of the pie but they have had to endure endless suffering. Time to change that around.
Now with the present BRAC Environmental Coordinator Mr. Keith Forman and his partner in crime Mr. Dave DeMars who is the Lead Remedial Project Manager for the first time they are open to working with the community. We are witnessing some sincere openness and can have a sincere dialog. There is much to be done and time is running out. After all the Shipyard was shut in 1974.
We have a lame duck Mayor who wants to make deals before he is booted out. Nothing he has touched so far has been worth talking about – the crooks who are vying for a piece of the pie should not be allowed to fleece the community and further add insult to what has already happened to the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
The worst things ever to happen to the Shipyard were the desecration of the two Shellmounds, which were destroyed by the Navy. Today, the Navy admits it but only after I brought it to their attention. If the Navy knew about the Shellmounds in 1909 why did they destroy them? Shellmounds are Sacred Burial Site, which belonged to the Ohlone. Now, the Navy have to make amends and may be they can offer some concrete mitigation money to help the children who are suffering from respiratory diseases. As I said time is running out and some one has to take the lead and make good stuff happen.
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