SF’s Newest Park Next to an Old Navy Shipyard, What Could go Wrong?
India Basin, San Francisco, CA. Chances are you haven’t heard of it. I’m 90% sure I went to a couple rave/renegades there in 2008, but that’s for a different article. More importantly, there’s a 9+ acre park renovation that the city & many private donors have in store for the area, along with 1,575 residential units, approximately 200,000 square feet of commercial space, approximately 15.5 acres of publicly accessible open space, and up to 1,800 parking spaces. This according to one of the area’s main developers ‘BUILD’.
There’s a mural unveiling and block party with Mayor Breed on June 7, with a DJ, food and drinks to celebrate the public park going in. Info Here.
SF’s newest potential park, in India Basin is located next to the former US military shipyard, an area fraught with a history of toxic, radiated soil.
The main reason this land hasn’t already been developed is that the US military didn’t clean it up properly after WWII. The Navy used the area and drydock to clean ships exposed to atomic tests in the Pacific Ocean, Hunters Point became contaminated with radioactive cesium-137 and other hazardous materials: asbestos, glow-in-the-dark paint, lead, and pesticides. As a result, cancer rates for certain types of cancers were double in Hunter’s Point residents over the years as compared to other San Francisco residents and many other diseases have been attributed to the area’s pollution.
In short, the soil there was toxic. And to make matters worse the company the Navy hired to test the soil, called Tetra Tech, falsified test results in order to get the Navy out of cleaning the area up, or taking responsibility for the sick residents. A couple of Tetra Tech executives actually went to Federal prison for faking ‘safe’ test results as recently as 2018. And there’s currently a $27 Billion Class Action Lawsuit Against the Navy Contractor, by the residents of Hunter’s Point.
Meanwhile, the experts advise the removal of the first 2 feet of topsoil on 9.6 acres in India Basin, and other areas will need to be sealed and continually monitored for toxicity. The renovation will be a true team effort, with the city’s Recreation and Parks Department, the San Francisco Parks Alliance, and the Trust for Public Land. They want to break ground in 2021, with the project scheduled to be finished in 2025.
In February 2019, the state declared certain areas close to the planned park ‘safe’, saying that there was no dangerous radiation in Hunter’s Point Parcels A-1 & A-2 (see map bellow in grey). This latest safety ‘clearance’ does not cover the former Navy occupied portions of Hunter’s point (in Green) which is subject to the massive fraud lawsuit. The India Basin area, is contiguous with both the old Navy docks and the newly cleared areas. We’ve reached out to developers to see about the testing and safety protocols conducted on the Indian Basin itself.
I may just be paranoid, but I will not be playing in that park or swimming in those waters, anytime soon.