San Francisco HAZMAT

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Published Thursday, December 6, 2018

A highly radioactive object has been discovered at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard next to a housing area that has been declared safe and free of radioactive contamination for more than a decade.

The finding is the latest setback for San Francisco's most ambitious redevelopment project in a century - an effort to transform a Superfund waste site into a bustling waterfront neighborhood of 12,000 homes.

The object - a radium deck marker about the size of a silver dollar, 1.5 inches across - was unearthed Tuesday on a grassy slope beneath a stretch of newly built condos, less than a foot below ground.

The state health department revealed the information Thursday in a seemingly routine "Progress Update" letter that was sent to the shipyard homeowner's association and obtained by The Chronicle.

The housing area, at the northern end of the shipyard, is known as Parcel A. The California Department of Public Health is currently scanning the parcel for radioactivity following revelations about faked radiation measurements in other portions of the 500-acre shipyard.

Residents and city officials demanded a test after whistleblowers and media reports raised the possibility that some of those problems may have extended to Parcel A. Discovery of a radium device here is startling because the city and multiple government agencies have said for years that any contamination on Parcel A was cleaned up long ago.

Public officials have repeatedly assured residents that no harmful radioactivity exists near their homes and they have nothing to worry about.

"That's just outrageous and crazy," said Bert Bowers, a former radiation safety officer at the shipyard. "You're talking about a developed area up there where the new housing is."

"This is uncharted territory." Dan Hirsch, retired director of nuclear policy at UC Santa Cruz, called the discovery of the radium device an "extraordinary development." "We've been told all along that there were no radioactive materials at Parcel A," he wrote in an email. "Now all that crumbles."

The state department of public health did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In the letter to homeowners, Mark Starr, the Deputy Director of Environmental Health assured residents that the object hadn't posed "any health or safety hazard to anyone who happened to be at the spot previously."
Source: DORRIS

San Francisco HAZMAT Facts

Power: 0
Affected Area: 10 km.
Alert Level: Orange
Category: CBRNE
Response: Avoid
Severity: Severe
Urgency: Immediate
Certainty: Observed

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