What We Must Do On the Shipyard
It has become too common for residents of Bayview Hunters Point (both near and on the Shipyard) to learn additional reasons why they cannot trust or rely on assurances that the land they live on is safe. The SF Chronicle’s article regarding radioactive material recently found on Parcel A – where many residents and families currently live – should be concerning for anyone who cares about this City, and particularly for anyone who knows and loves this community.
When I was a child we always knew something wasn’t quite right. I lost both of my grandparents to cancer before I was 16 years old (my grandmother when I was 9 and my grandfather when I was 15), so this is personal and not about political points for me and my family. The sad thing is that my family’s story is common. Every historic Bayview family has been somehow affected by the travesty at the Hunters Point Shipyard similarly to how mine has.
Even though the southeastern part of San Francisco has always been disproportionately affected by environmental injustice, the Shipyard is one of the most undeniable cases of environmental racism that has ever come to light. The reality is that the situation here, the subsequent fraud, and the ongoing health problems our community has faced are civil rights issues. It is time to adequately address a complete re-testing and thorough, vetted and accountable clean-up of the Shipyard.
Tetra Tech and the Navy will be held responsible and the community certainly deserves to be compensated for pain and suffering and the cost of related medical expenses, but we also deserve to stop being the subject of false promises. That is precisely why I have been in ongoing talks with the San Francisco City Attorney to investigate litigation against Tetra Tech, explore the appropriate criminal punishment, and develop the kinds of longer term, lasting-impact legal strategy that will hold the Navy and other parties accountable. We simply must ensure that this kind of environmental racism never occurs in our community again.
As for the short term, there is little that anyone disagrees on:
- The development on the Shipyard, including on Parcel A, must be halted until the entire area has been thoroughly re-tested by a new third party.
- Tetra Tech cannot be allowed near the re-testing process, must be held accountable, and should have to pay for every dime of retesting and remaining cleanup.
- Since we have been repeatedly let down by the Navy, multiple government agencies, and the contractors they brought in, and there is no entity currently involved that has any credibility left. It is therefore imperative that we, as a community, collectively move towards bringing in new parties that do not have a conflict. I have previously suggested that the City should bring in academia (UC Berkeley, etc.) to participate in the actual testing of radioactive toxins on the Shipyard, have explored this idea with the City Attorney, and I still believe this is the best step. Academia does not have the same conflict of interests we have seen from the government entities who have lost community trust. These institutions of higher education have the resources and teams to do the job well. Most importantly, however, they have the best chance at regaining community trust.
- The re-testing process should not occur behind closed doors whenever the anticipation of litigation does not require discretion. That is why, as Supervisor, I plan to convene a task force that would monitor and oversee the re-testing of the entire Shipyard, including Parcel A, and ensure that all testing goes further than only surface-level soil. This task force should include members of the community living in the area, the Supervisor, members of the health and environmental departments, the EPA, and be open to the public.
We must treat this as we would any other civil rights and social justice issue and no longer allow the forces of division, political posturing, or quick profit keep us separated while there are people afraid the land they live on is poisoning their families, friends, and community. If there is any issue on which Bayview residents should be absolutely and unequivocally united, it is that our voices should be heard, considered, and involved in every step of the cleanup process until testing and the clean up is complete.
As Supervisor, I am absolutely committed to ensuring this transparency and accountability, and guarantee that I will stand up to anyone or any corporation that threatens the health and vibrancy of our community in District 10. It is only by working together that we can not only ensure the pollution at the Shipyard is responsibly cleaned up, but also that our community never has to face this kind of environmental catastrophe again.
Trained over 150 District 10 residents in environmental remediation careers and provided them certifications in lead and asbestos abatement, hazardous waste removal, mold awareness, confined space, OSHA 10 Safety and CPR – which made them Certified Environmental Technicians.
Placed over one hundred District 10 residents in jobs and careers that remove hazardous waste materials and provided them opportunities to conduct clean-up and remediation in their own communities.