Community Concerned About Asbestos at Hunters Point Site

Community Leaders in the Bayview-Hunters Point district of San Francisco have come together to discuss the ongoing health complaints associated with a new development being built at the site of the old Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

An article in the Fog City Journal notes that residents and community leaders are concerned that the development company, Lennar Corporation, is cutting corners when it comes to safety issues involving air quality regulations. Asbestos is known to be present at the Hunters Point site because shipyards were one of the major consumers of asbestos before warnings were issued in the 1970s about the dangers of the toxic material.

Residents say the incidence of respiratory ailments has increased among those who live or work in the area. They contribute the rise to airborne asbestos and other leftover toxins from the shipyard, including arsenic.

The dust particulates are being released into the air as a result of heavy equipment grading on large swaths of rock and earth in an area know as Parcel A. The area is known for swirling winds capable of carrying dust particulate matter in all directions over large distances, notes the article.

Some community activists believe that Lennar’s shortcomings are being ignored because the project has the backing of the city’s mayor and several other political giants in the area, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco in Congress.

Minister Christopher Mohamed, a well-known voice in the community, said that in May 2006, he was informed about high levels of asbestos dust in the area. He noted that area children had been complaining about breathing problems and tear-swollen eyes.

“This went on everyday practically for over a four-month period,” Mohamed said during a presentation to as many as 50 attendees.

Mohamed said that just a few months later, a worker at the construction site told him Lennar crew workers were being sent home because of high dust levels. Yet a school, located adjacent to the project, had not been informed about the health hazard. Mohamed emphasized the fence line for the school is just ten feet from the construction site and has been directly impacted by “dust clouds.”

“They were blasting the community with asbestos laden dust,” Mohamed said.

“You can’t hardly knock on a door in Bayview-Hunters Point where you can’t find a person that’s been ill-affected by that shipyard,” Mohamed said.

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