PRESS RELEASE

EPA Says Hunters Point Will Never Be Fully Cleaned

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Contact:
Jeff Ruch jruch@peer.org (510) 213-7028


 

EPA Says Hunters Point Will Never Be Fully Cleaned  

EPA Plans to Ignore Prop P Mandate and Its Own Superfund Standards  

Oakland, CA —The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that Hunters Point Naval Shipyard cleanup will not be sufficient to allow unrestricted residential use, according to an agency memo sent to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Instead, the agency will rely upon caps and “land use restrictions” in violation of Proposition P, the overwhelmingly approved voter initiative demanding a full cleanup for the shipyard, a Superfund site since 1989.  

In meetings with top EPA officials in August and December 2021, PEER and allied groups asked for a commitment that the soil cleanup standards for Hunters Point be strict enough to allow for unrestricted residential use. They argued that the current soil cleanup standards violated EPA’s own Superfund guidance and would leave so much radiological waste that 1 in every 473 people would get cancer or the equivalent of getting a chest X-ray every other day for decades. 

Via an unsigned September 30, 2022 memo transmitted by Silvina Fonseca, a senior official with EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management which oversees Superfund, the agency demurred on the groups’ request to tighten the soil cleanup standards and would instead rely upon restrictions on allowed land uses at Hunters Point contrary to the demands of Proposition P, passed by more than 86% of voters in 2000, that the shipyard “be cleaned to a level which would enable the unrestricted use of the property – the highest standard for cleanup established by the [EPA]” – 

“Regarding your recommendation that soil radiological cleanup goals be based on an unrestricted use scenario consistent with the City/County of San Francisco’s Proposition P, broadly, EPA’s policy is to achieve protective remedies consistent with reasonably anticipated future land use. Institutional controls, like land use restrictions, are a common component of Superfund remedies nationwide to ensure protection of human health but also to ensure the integrity of remedies in the long term.” 

 “The bottom line is that EPA will not commit to the full cleanup of Hunters Point,” stated PEER Pacific Director Jeff Ruch, noting that this memo was nearly one year after EPA had promised to answer the groups’ August 2021 request. “As things stand now, the plan at Hunters Point is to pave over contamination rather than remove it.”  

The EPA revelation occurred just one day after EPA testified before the Board’s Government Audit and Oversight Committee last week but failed to disclose the EPA decision to not require a complete cleanup. This revelation creates a new confrontation regarding Hunters Point. The President of the Board of Supervisors has pledged there will be no transfer of Hunters Point land to the City without a “100% complete cleanup,” and EPA has now declared there will be no such cleanup. Tomorrow, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will resume consideration of a County Grand Jury report about rising groundwater and sea-level rise would wash much of the remaining Hunters Point contamination into San Francisco Bay. 

“On one hand, EPA talks about the importance of community input but on the other hand says it is free to ignore Prop P, one of the strongest expressions of community input imaginable,” added Ruch, pointing out this was supposed to be the biggest redevelopment in the city since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. “After more than 30 years of EPA supervision, Hunters Point is and will likely remain a radiological waste dump.”   

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Read the EPA memo 

Look at the Navy/EPA plan to leave contaminated soil onsite 

View the Grand Jury report 

Examine the lack of transparency on cleanup plans 

Look at the call for a national “garden pathway” cleanup standard