Residents who live near the old Hunters Point Shipyard in the San Francisco Bay area are concerned that dust from the construction of a massive new housing development at the site is causing clouds of toxic asbestos dust.
According to an article posted on BeyondChron.com, earlier this week, the regional Board of Supervisors' Land Use Committee heard emotional testimony about dust and asbestos at the former shipyard, where the Lennar Corporation has begun to excavate rock.
The article notes that "Health Department representatives were on hand to assure that, despite an admitted 3-month gap in monitoring, an excess in asbestos levels and Lennar's non-compliance with dust abatement, the exposure was not toxic and there was no proof that health problems were caused by it."
Area residents, however, say they're experiencing a greater incidence of respiratory problems, such as asthma, since the excavation began. A resolution was submitted, urging the Health Department to halt construction on the premises. Supervisor Sophie Maxwell called upon Public Health Director Mitch Katz to address the monitoring situation.
"The residents have legitimate concerns about the safety of the development," said Katz, "because of health issues that have been true for twenty years." With a long history of toxic cleanups at the Naval Shipyard and power plants, high rates of cancer and asthma are nothing new to the Bayview-Hunters Point community. "But we don't feel that the development of this parcel is causing health problems," said Katz.
Public comment indicated otherwise. Estelene Stamsel, who has lived there for 50 years and had friends who worked in the old Naval Shipyard that died of asbestos exposure, said that dust from Lennar's excavation site is "flying everywhere and the particles are getting into childrens' lungs." Octavio Solorzano, a local high school basketball star, indicated the dust was affecting his stamina. Once an Honors Student, Octavio's grades have dipped since the construction began, the article notes.