The never-ending mess from America’s early nuclear tests

An atomic bomb, a scandal, and the neighborhood next door
By Rachel Becker and William Poor on October 9, 2018 10:00 a.m.

The Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco is where ships irradiated by early nuclear testing in the Pacific were towed so they could be decontaminated. Now, people are trying to clean it up. But there’s been a lot of trouble along the way, like a case of ecological fraud that’s sent two people to prison, so far. The neighborhood feels poisoned by the government — and how do you clean that up?

The city today is in the grips of a housing crisis: the population is growing, land is at a premium, and new housing is desperately needed. And one of the biggest new developments is in an area called Bayview-Hunters Point. It’s a classic gentrification story: a brand-new, expensive development built next to an established, lower-income, historically black community. It’s also the site of radioactive waste, an alleged cover up, and some criminal convictions. Less classic.

The development sits at the edge of the Bayview-Hunters Point community, the site of the defunct Hunters Point Shipyard. In addition to the wastes from the irradiated ships, the site is also contaminated with radioactive paint used to make deck markers and devices glow, fuels and pesticides, and radioactive materials used in lab experiments. And that’s all on top of the asbestos that’s just naturally in the soil there.

The EPA added the shipyard to the Superfund list in 1989 — and cleaning it up has been a massive effort. So the Navy brought in a firm called Tetra Tech EC to help. But a few years ago, whistleblowers starting coming forward with claims of botched cleanup work by Tetra Tech. And reporters with NBC Bay Area got their hands on an internal report that admitted Tetra Tech workers falsified soil tests. NBC called it “an apparent effort to declare the soil free of radiological contamination when it may not have been.”

https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2018/10/9/17952964/nuclear-testing...

(There are numerous links embedded in that article that are very important.)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 3, 2018
Radiation Control Technician Supervisors Sentenced For Falsifying Former Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard Clean-Up Records.

Defendants admit substituting “clean dirt” for legitimate soil samples in order to fake the results of radiological remediation efforts.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndca/pr/radiation-control-technician-superv...

This country has NEVER given an thought to the ramifications of any of its actions. Especially when it comes to pollution. I was office manager for an environmental remediation company in the 90s, I used to type reports for geologists, hydrogeologist, and biologist. (That job was a definite challenge!) I KNOW what’s lurking in the ground water around these parts. Face it, for over 200 years the way we got rid of EVERYTHING was to dump it on the ground. I have a phobia about tap water now. Or to be more exact, water in general. I’ve had 2 jobs that I wish I’d never had. This is one of them. Ignorance can definitely be ‘bliss’.

Human, animal life, and the environment have NEVER been a consideration during the development of new technology or products. Testing, honest thorough reliable testing, has never been a big priority for any of the major technical ‘advances’ that whip off the assembly line. That includes private innovators like Tesla and their exploding cars. Or any cell phone manufacturer/developer. It seems like these geniuses put their wares on the market and its the public who does the testing. How many cars are recalled each year?

We have thousands of places in scattered around our country that are unsafe for humans, flora, and fauna.

Do You Live Near Toxic Waste? See 1,317 of the Most Polluted Spots in the U.S.

http://time.com/4695109/superfund-sites-toxic-waste-locations/

The original article I posted is about one of the country’s dirtiest sites and the corruption and incompetence involved in its ‘cleanup’. Tragically, people LIVE on top of them. Not only poor people in run-down houses but people who’ve bought homes in well-to-do developments. Environmental contamination is one of the few situations where the misery is shared by both the poor and the well-to-do. And to further exacerbate the problem, the Trump administration wants to cut the funding for the EPA;

The cleanup program may face cuts under President Trump, whose proposed budget includes slashing EPA’s funding by 31%. That would include reducing the Superfund program from over $1 billion to $762 million in funding, though the cuts are still preliminary and would need to go through Congress for approval.

http://time.com/4695109/superfund-sites-toxic-waste-locations/

That’s some real ignorance right there. There are a lot of areas where we can cut funding, but this is NOT one of them. What we need, desperately need, is leadership that understands that we need to prioritize cleaning up our country, our home. (Quit rolling your eyes.) Eventually it won’t matter if there’s a nuclear holocaust. Maybe it will be a blessing. Because it will be a lot faster than dying from all the ways we’re being slowly poisoned.

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A great discussion of the EPA and its chemical industry collusion was presented today on KPFA's Against the Grain with Sasha Lilley:

https://kpfa.org/episode/against-the-grain-october-10-2018/

Against the Grain
10.10.18 - 12:00PM
The EPA and the Chemical Industry: A Cosy Alliance

The Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with safeguarding the public from toxic exposure. But Jonathan Latham, executive director of the Bioscience Research Project, says that The Poison Papers — an enormous trove of documents — indicate that the EPA and the chemical industry often work hand in hand to mislead us into thinking that toxic chemicals are safe for human use.

Resources:

The Poison Papers

Bioscience Research Project

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snoopydawg's picture

8 months is better than just letting them off with a slap on the wrist like we normally see.

“Rolfe and Hubbard’s lies and shortcuts in the soil-testing process potentially put the community at risk and frustrated the contracting efforts of the U.S. Navy to test and remediate soil at the former Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard

Hasn't everyone of our regularatory agencies been captured by the industries that they oversee? Pretty much. And the industry's lobbyists get to decide who is appointed for the judiciary committees that are supposed to write legislation on what they can and can't do.

Utah is getting more depleted uranium to store in a city west of SLC and people there have no say in it. Until the supreme upper crust of society starts being affected by the poisonous crap that comes out of the superfunds this will continue. Anyone heard anything about the toxic flood water that people in NC are dealing with? Nope. And we're not even hearing how the cleanup is going.

Thanks, Amanda for essaying this.

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Amanda Matthews's picture

@snoopydawg
SERIOUS subject that going to come back to haunt us big time:

Floodwater is more than simple rain. It's often contaminated with sewage and chemicals and can hide sharp objects made of metal or glass. Sewage can cause boils or rashes on parts of the body that are submerged for extended periods of time, such as legs, according to environmentalist Wilma Subra. Chemicals can cause rashes and burning of the skin and eyes after exposure.

https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/27/health/health-consequences-flood-waters/index.html

Flooding From Hurricane Florence Is Overtaking Hog Farms and Coal Ash Dumps

North Carolina environmental regulators say several open-air manure pits at hog farms have failed, spilling pollution. State officials also were monitoring the ongoing threat from the breach of a Duke Energy coal ash landfill near Wilmington.

You’re right. You sure aren’t seeing anything like this on the nightly news.

And there’s two another catastrophe in the making;

Red tide: Hurricane Michael could have major impact on Florida's toxic algae

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/red-tide-hurricane-michael-florida-toxic-al...

Photographer documents possible herbicide tie to Florida red tide, toxic algae

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.clickorlando.com/water/photographer-doc...

Thank you for pointing this out!

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

snoopydawg's picture

@Amanda Matthews

Drilling for oil on land and sea, fracking, tar sands, superfund sites that get into the waterways by either the ponds breaking or seeping into groundwater, the pollution from wars with bombs that have depleted uranium in them .... etc.

The dam in Ogden canyon that's our drinking water was closed for the first time ever because of toxic algae blooms because of the chemical runoffs from the farms in the area. Why does there need to be so many chemicals used on farms these days. Are the yields that much higher than they were before chemicals were used? I'm not very informed about this, but risking contaminating water vs lower yields I'd go with the lower yields. Besides look at how many vegetables have gotten salmonella and other things like that even though they're using chemicals.

The media didn't cover how many people got rashes from wading in the waters after Katrina. No surprise there because most of the people who got them were poor.

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Amanda Matthews's picture

@snoopydawg
right on the Missouri River. A few years ago people were forbidden to fish from the Missouri River up by Blair,to a few miles just passed the South Omaha Bridge . Fish were coming up with deformities like 3 eyes. I KNOW that was because of chemicals. There’s a marina right there, farmland drainage, people get caught dumping stuff every now and then, and shit tons of FERTILIZER. Between us and Council Bluffs right across the river, we have ten 4-to-5 star rated 18-hole golf courses. That’s a LOT of grass, And lots of people who use lots of chemicals on the lawns and foliage.

I’m just surprised those fish from the Missouri don’t come out like...

7DAB3BC7-F246-4B2B-87BC-7ED3BB1E70F7.jpeg

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

snoopydawg's picture

@Amanda Matthews

And yet we still don't rise up and throw those yokels out of office. There's talk in France of redoing the French Revolution because of what Macroon is doing to his country.

I truly believe that they are trying to kill us and reduce the number of people who will use the dwindling resources. Water is more important than oil now and yet it's being polluted faster than ever. Well I'm hoping that when the big event happens and the elite bug out for New Zealand and the other places where they think they are going to ride things out they will be met with a closed sign in NZ and the people they have hired to keep them safe have other ideas for them.

Smile

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Amanda Matthews's picture

@snoopydawg @snoopydawg

other day. The French aren’t shy about making their displeasure known. Here we go to the streets for other reasons, none of which are related to the way we’re losing our rights. All future copies of the bill of rights should be totally redacted. If people here start to catch on to all the shenanigans going on and it starts to make them hurt, anything can happen? Eventually something’s gonna collapse. Wall Street? The Treasury for all the phantom money we print to pay for wars? Coming ecological disasters?

NOTE: the crops here in Iowa/Nebraska are ready to harvest but the farmers haven’t been able to get in their fields because all it’s done for over two months is rain. No comparison to all the coastal areas being hit by Michael, but enough to make people damn cranky and prevent the farmers from harvesting their crops. And right now it’s 40• and freaking raining. It’s a big problem. That would crash the economy in the Midwest.

Bad stuff seems to be happening all over.

But first we have to quit looking at their phone. Like me.

EDIT; the/we

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

@snoopydawg @snoopydawg I'm replying really late to this, but I have experience, as I own a farm (a very, very small, even micro farm, which grows assorted vegetables, herbs and fruit and used to run a CSA). We are now retired. But, why chemicals? Because you need less people, because, supposedly, it's more certain, and because a lot of the big farms are owned by the chemical companies, either through contract (like dairies often are) or through actual ownership.
Edited to add: We are a completely organic, micro scale farm. Meaning, only me and my husband do the work and we use no herbicides or pesticides unless they are completely organic (e.g. vinegar, olive/vegetable oil). I decided when I started the farm that 10 to 15% of my crop would be a 'tithe' to nature. And so it is.

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divineorder's picture

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

divineorder's picture

Has anyone seen this video??

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Amanda Matthews's picture

@divineorder

In the 60s and who was responsible?

Such ignorance on a world-wide scale.

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa