San Francisco Health Officials Say Hunters Point is Safe

After reviewing studies by the developer of the city’s old Hunters Point shipyard, San Francisco health officials announced that they still believe construction dust from the site won’t harm nearby residents.

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, late last month, “the state Department of Health Services, working under contract for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released a review of steps the developer, Lennar Corp., has taken to quell construction dust and to monitor levels of asbestos since grading work began 16 months ago.”

“You and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District have taken many steps to protect the public from dust and asbestos generated during work activities,” Dr. Thomas Sinks, a CDC deputy director, wrote in a Sept. 20 letter to city health officials, referring to protective measures taken by local and regional officials.

While the state department of health still maintains that the dust is at safe levels, locals disagree, noting the rapid rise in headaches, nosebleeds, rashes and asthma that residents have reported in the past 16 months, during demolition and construction at the site.

“The studies have been focused on asbestos, but that should be broadened to test for arsenic, lead, chromium, mercury and other metals. … Blood tests can show that those toxins are very much present in the dust along with asbestos,” said Alicia Schwartz, an organizer with the group POWER, which advocates for environmental and racial justice in neighborhoods.

In July, a number of neighborhood and religious organizations who are opposed to the building at Hunters Point attended a Board of Supervisors meeting to protest the continued construction. However, the board voted 6-5 to allow Lennar to continue without interruption, even after hearing the impassioned pleas of nearby residents.

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