Treasure Island Cleanup Bathed in Fog
Navy Won’t Reveal Radiation Standards for “Free Release” of Contaminated Tracts
Washington, DC —The ultimate fate of a highly contaminated island in the middle of San Francisco Bay remains a mystery because the U.S. Navy will not release key data describing the extent of its planned cleanup, according to a lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The documents are key to understanding risks faced by the nearly 2,000 residents currently living on Naval Station Treasure Island and prospects for building nearly 20,000 high-end condos there.
The Navy has already transferred about half the island to the city of San Francisco, but several parcels are still to be cleaned up. For months, PEER has waited for the Navy to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records concerning the current and planned status of the 20-plus-year Treasure Island cleanup. Unable to secure any commitment for a release timetable, today the group filed suit in U.S. District court to compel production. Among the records PEER seeks are documents spelling out –
- The radiological remediation standard to be applied to impacted areas of the island;
- Whether “free release” can or cannot be achieved in any of the remaining radiologically impacted areas of the island; and
- For areas released to civilian use what if any protective measures are needed to ensure there is no continuing risk to human health and the environment.
“These are fairly basic items we are seeking which, frankly, the Navy should be publicly posting without having to be asked, let alone sued,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization last month filed another FOIA lawsuit against the Navy for records related to the role of its controversial contractor, Tetra Tech, on Treasure Island. “There is still no assurance that promised cleanups will be completed at all or to what degree, nor do we know what additional safety measures residents must take.”
One focus of the latest PEER suit is Site 12, a 90-acre parcel used as an ammunition bunker, storage yard, and solid waste disposal area, where materials with radioactive Radium-226 were buried. It is also where a community of mainly low-income residents live in buildings more than 50 years old.
Another focus is finding out why the original 2006 Historical Radiological Assessment for Treasure Island was scrapped as inadequate and what is the status and nature of the supplemental assessment.
Both this cleanup and the 30-year cleanup of Hunters Point Naval Shipyard have been plagued by scandal, lawsuits, and growing questions. Charges of sampling falsification and other acts of fraud dog both sites.
“Given the tremendous uncertainty surrounding Treasure Island, the Navy should be far more transparent and abandon its bunker mentality,” added Ruch. “Whatever benefit of the doubt the Navy once enjoyed in the affected communities has long since been forfeit.”