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State inspection says no dangerous radiation at last Hunters Point site

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The uninhabited hillside zone presents “no radiological hazards” according to the CDPH

Docks at the closed Hunters Point Shipyard Photo by Shutterstock

Last week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released its second and final report about potential radiation hazards in developed and soon-to-be developed areas of Hunters Point Shipyard.

According to the department, there’s no public health hazard from radioactive materials at the site—or at least none in the areas covered by the surveys, which were extensive but not comprehensive.

This latest report covers the area dubbed Parcel A-2, a hillside plot that the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure deems “currently uncovered and undeveloped,” with no homes in place yet.

The results are virtually identical to those in Parcel A-1, the inhabited region of the shipyard that CDPH cleared in February. Among other conclusions in the report:

  • The inspection covered almost the entire area: “CDPH was able to survey close to 90 percent of Parcel A-2.” The previous survey of A-1 excluded most of the homes already built, but since A-2 is uninhabited CDPH ventured into “all accessible areas [...] where staff could remain safe.”
  • The survey picked up over 100 unusual readings: “In total, the radiation survey detected 113 anomalies, 1 1 from the walkover survey and 102 from the towed array system.”
  • However, all anomalies turned out to be harmless: “All anomalies were determined to be naturally occurring radiological material (NORM), namely potassium-40, [...] a naturally occurring radioisotope of potassium [...] found throughout nature , including in plants, animals, various foods and our bodies.”
  • CDPH contends there’s nothing dangerous about the site: “No radiological hazards were observed.”

CDPH inspectors note that the reason for the investigation in the first place was “data falsification elsewhere at Hunters Point Shipyard and public concern regarding Parcel A.”

In 2018, workers with the contractor retained by the Navy to clean up the shipyard confessed to faking and covering up results of radiation tests at Hunters Point. The federal government is currently suing over whether or not more parties are culpable in the coverup.

Earlier in April, the U.S. Navy responded to public concerns that the same company may have handled sensitive work on Treasure Island with a report of its own contending that nothing untoward happened on the cleanup campaign at the former island base, either.

Though the results for both Hunters Point parcels were similar, the February report on A-1 did include an irradiated object, a deck marker, the presence of which remains largely anomalous.

The city plans to build over 10,000 new homes in Hunters Point.