“Federal and city officials announced Monday they would investigate new allegations that government staff colluded with developer Lennar Corp. to cover up health risks associated with the redevelopment of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced their investigations after Bayview neighborhood activists on Monday released emails from 2006 to 2009 in which officials asked the developer and its consultants to help draft public statements about the safety of dust kicked up by the controversial building project.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved much of the sprawling redevelopment plan last year after receiving assurances from federal and local officials that it was safe, despite toxic compounds, radioactive contamination and naturally occurring asbestos in swaths of the shuttered shipyard’s soil. A 75-acre outlying chunk of the project area was transferred to Lennar in 2005, but the construction of homes has not yet begun.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Daly Double

    You know that the calls to the FBI are from the same people that wanted to kill any development of the site…
    I suspect that the same calls could be made to FBI regarding the Western SOMA planning task force underway (community planning that started years ago under Chris Daly), since the plan is a status quo plan and allows to remain in place tons of auto repair and body shops whose buildings and surrounding residential area have be contaminated with chemicals for years.

  2. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    Well this isn’t good …
    also, “naturally occurring asbestos”??? asbestos is a naturally occurring material? you learn something everyday.

  3. Posted by Eric in SF

    Yes, asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and was mined for its various fire-resistant properties. It was *later* we discovered that minute particles of the mineral, when lodged in the lungs, caused cancer.
    Serpentine is a complex of 20+ closely related minerals. Some of the minerals in the complex have asbestos in them. Hunter’s Point has a fair amount of naturally occurring serpentine. Ergo the development there has to mitigate the asbestos.
    I’ve not investigated this particular issue in depth, so it’s entirely possible there is also asbestos left over from previous uses of the land.
    Being a plant nerd, I have a special love for serpentine, as the most interesting and beautiful wildflowers in California are found on it.

  4. Posted by hiitsme

    Asbestos occurs throughout many of the naturally occuring Serpentine rock deposits in SF and all over the State of CA.
    It was recognized as a “miracle mineral” and as such saved many lives with its fire retardant nature. It was also used as soundproofing (popcorn ceilings in older houses) and now has been recognized as occuring in window glazing, floor and ceiling tiles, sheet rock taping, and so on. All of these have to be investigated and/or mitigated prior to a building demolition to comply with air standards. It is a very cool rock to the touch.

  5. I thought that most of the radioactive waste was underwater in bay mud.
    I’m surprised if the developer tried to skimp on the asbestos and other toxic dust mitigation because that’s pretty easy to control with water trucks and other methods.
    There could be other toxic stuff out there. A navy consumes a lot of chemicals and it wasn’t until the 1970s that society woke up to the dangers of groundwater contamination. Being a USG facility allowed this place to evade regulatory oversight.
    It is far easier to cleanup a site before it is rebuilt.

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