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Report Suggests More Widespread Radiation Contamination On SF’s Treasure Island

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Treasure Island as seen from Yerba Buena (Wikipedia)

Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. (Wikimedia)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – A recently-obtained survey by the United States Navy indicates that radioactive contamination on San Francisco’s Treasure Island may be more widespread than previously thought, creating a potential snag for redevelopment plans.

In a report obtained by The Bay Citizen, the Navy has admitted that radioactive contamination was more widespread than previously disclosed. Officials disclosed 7 additional sites on Treasure Island that may be contaminated by work done on ships in the 1940s.

Some of those ships could have absorbed radiation from nuclear testing in the Pacific.

The report raises questions about the effectiveness of prior cleanup efforts based on previously identified contamination areas. Cleanup on the island has been ongoing, with plans for a 20,000 resident high rise redevelopment on the former military base.

Former Supervisor Aaron Peskin said he and other activists have raised the issue about possible radioactive contamination in a lawsuit filed against the city earlier this year.

Michael Tymoff, Treasure Island Project Director, responded to the findings with the following statement:

San Francisco, its city policies, laws and regulations regarding environmental protection lead the state, nation and world.

Treasure Island, remains a priority for San Francisco’s commitment to environmental sustainability and the health and safety of the public. That’s why, as part of San Francisco’s pledge to reuse and revitalize our former military bases, providing critically needed housing where land is sparse, we will continue to apply the highest standards for the environment.

San Francisco will hold the Navy to their statutory obligations for all environmental clean-up on the island. That negotiated obligation, between the City and the Navy requires that the Navy complete its remediation responsibilities, including any and all radiological cleanup, before the City will accept title to the property. 

The City has been working closely with the State’s lead regulatory agency, the California Department of Toxics Substance Control (DTSC), to ensure that human health and safety is protected not just today, but when the property transfers through the development process. Furthermore, the City has engaged its own independent environmental engineering experts, for more than a decade, to provide additional oversight and review of the Navy’s cleanup, which is in addition to the DTSC’s oversight to ensure the safety for workers, residents and tenants currently on the island and its future residents. 

While the Navy’s draft report concludes additional investigations for radiological contamination will be required, the City and DTSC will continue to be aggressive and uncompromising in examining and addressing any and all human health issues. 

The City will continue to demand the highest standards of testing and independent analysis in order to safeguard the health and safety of the public and our residents. The safe, clean transfer of the property has always been, and will continue to be, the uppermost priority in developing Treasure Island. 

Charlotte Fadipe of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control issued the following statement:

We, at the Ca Department of Toxic Substances Control, have not seen anything in the Navy’s approach to the investigation and cleanup that represents a public health danger. Concerns were raised by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), work was stopped to allow the Navy to respond to those concerns, and both agencies are now evaluating the Navy’s response. We are working with CDPH and the Navy to ensure that before Treasure Island is developed it is safe for public use.

U.S. Navy Environmental Coordinator Jim Sullivan responded with the following:

The Navy has been working aggressively with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Regional Water Quality Control Board, Department of Public Health, US. EPA, and the City of San Francisco to investigate, and where necessary, clean up contaminated areas on Treasure Island to protect human health and the environment.

Treasure Island is a safe place to live and work. All cleanup work on the island is conducted under plans approved by the State, with the highest priority given to safety to ensure the public is protected through measures that include dust control, fencing, signage and measurement of airborne particles. The California Department of Public Health has been onsite at Treasure Island to verify that the public is being protected.

The Navy has a long standing history, and is committed, to protecting human health and the environment. The Navy will continue to move forward with the State to complete all needed investigations and cleanup.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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