CBS SAN FRAN – KATIE NIELSON
The “biggest case of eco-fraud in U.S. history” is what an environmental advocacy group is calling the massive cleanup at the old Hunters Point Naval Base in San Francisco. Newly released documents show that almost all of the radiation data is unreliable. Homeowners worry they are living on dangerous ground.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Navy held a public meeting to discuss the future cleanup efforts at the old naval base, but people in San Francisco said they don’t trust the information and worry about the safety of future developments.
Hunters Point Resident Jonathan Lee said, “I’m a science teacher, so I definitely know about radiation.” Lee bought one of the newly-developed condos two years ago. Now he has an 8-month-old daughter and worries the ground under his house could be contaminated. “Apparently there’s this big scandal and, you know, we kind of want to make sure it doesn’t happen again and make sure they take care of it,” Lee said.
The old naval base was once a dumping ground for radioactive material. The U.S. Navy spent more than $1 billion to clean up the soil so the area could be redeveloped into 12,000 apartments and condos plus retail and office space.
Brian Butler, a community organizer with Greenaction said, “This whole development is constantly trying to be presented as the city’s solution to the housing crisis. That’s a lie. It’s fool’s gold.”
Most development is now on hold because of a recently released letter from the Environmental Protection Agency to the U.S. Navy saying the soil samples used to test for radioactive contamination are unreliable and could be fake, meaning areas deemed safe for development might still contain radioactive waste.
“Maybe after decades of promising to clean this up, maybe you actually will,” Butler said. “But it won’t be for us. It will be for this new, more affluent, lighter complexioned demographic that seems to be moving in.” He says it’s time the U.S. Navy is held accountable for years of botched cleanup efforts.
“What we need is independent community oversight on all the testing moving forward and transparency with the community,” Butler said.