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I Declare The Hunters Point Shipyard To Be A Public Health Emergency

by Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai
Dr. Sumchai exposes the long cover-up of the dangerous environmental conditions to residents and workers at and near the Hunters Point shipyard and declares a Public Health Emergency
I Declare The Hunters Point Shipyard To Be A Public Health Emergency

Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, MD
June 4, 2018


“ I swear by Apollo Physician that I will fulfill this oath and this covenant; I will keep them for harm and injustice.” - Hippocratic Oath

The most spectacular example of government collusion, conspiracy, obstruction and interference in human health and safety occurred in the aftermath of the Twin Towers destruction on September 11, 2001 when Lower Manhattan was choked in dust clouds that rose over 1,000 feet, subjecting residents, office workers, and rescue personnel to a cocktail of toxic gases and airborne particles.

In the aftermath of 911, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) took air samples and fraudulently reported finding no excess levels of asbestos, lead or volatile organic compounds in the air above and around Ground Zero…an implausible claim given the explosive demolition and volatilization of building materials caused by the attack on American soil.

In August of 2003 Inspector General Nikki Tinsley admitted in a report issued by the EPA that the National Security Council acted under directive of the Bush White House to engage in active coverup of the public health hazards at Ground Zero orchestrated to “Keep Wall Street Rolling! By June 2004, 57 Ground Zero rescue workers had died from exposure to toxic dust.

In striking parallel in 2006, Mitch Katz - Director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, issued an unsigned undated “Fact Sheet” widely distributed to Bayview Hunters Point households and community groups living in the 94124 zip code adjacent to dangerous development at a Federal Superfund site yielding visible dust with verified exceedences in asbestos, particulates and toxic metals. That letter -written by a physician with a masters in public health stated,“The type of construction dust generated at the shipyard is common across California and was expected. The area is not contaminated with unsafe levels of chemicals.”

“To protect public health and the environment, the Superfund program focuses on making a visible and lasting difference in communities, ensuring people can live and work in healthy, vibrant places.” - Superfund

In the late 1970’s toxic waste dumps like Love Canal received public attention and outcry when the risks to human health and the environment were exposed. In response, Congress established the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act in 1980 also called the Superfund Act. “Superfund’s stated goals are to protect human health and the environment by cleaning up polluted sites.

The Hunters Point Shipyard (HPS) was declared a Federal Superfund site in 1989 defined by EPA as “one of the nation’s most contaminated lands.” Contamination by radioactive and toxic waste from decades of military and industrial use including toxic metals, PCBs, radionuclides, pesticides and herbicides, volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. According to Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, more than 80% of San Francisco’s industrially zoned land is located in Southeast San Francisco including the Federal Superfund site at (HPS). Approximately 20 schools are located with a 1 mile radius of HPS.

On November 7, 2000 over 86% of the San Francisco electorate voted yes on Proposition P - a declaration of policy supporting environmental cleanup to residential standards for the Hunters Point Shipyard where a massive housing and commercial development project is now underway.

South of where families now dwell in townhouses and condominiums at The Shipyard on former Parcel A, for over two decades the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory conducted human and animal research on the effects of radiation and decontaminated ships exposed to 23 kiloton atomic blasts during Operation Crossroads in the south Pacific.

A nuclear particle accelerator was located in Building 816 on Parcel A and Navy archives document in 1947 personnel burned 610,000 gallons of radiation contaminated fuel oil in boilers at the shipyard’s power plants. That fuel contained plutonium which has a half life of 24,000 years. If inhaled or lodged in the lungs, tiny particles of plutonium can cause cancer.

According to EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, “airborne particles, the main ingredient of haze, smoke and dust, can cause a number of serious health problems. Small particles less than 10 microns pose the biggest problems and can affect both your lungs and your heart. Numerous studies link particulate exposure to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits and to death from heart or lung diseases. New studies show exposure to high particle levels to be associated with low birth weight infants, pre-term delivery and fetal/infant deaths.

All of these adverse health effects are well documented by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) in its Community Health Assessments that analyze data from the 94124 zip code. ER visits and hospitalization rates for adult asthma, congestive heart failure, and heart attacks in BVHP triple the statewide average. More than half of all infant mortality in San Francisco occurs in the cities southeast sector and birth defects for the region were 44.3 per 1,000 compared to 33.1 per 1,000 for the county of San Francisco. Additionally, 580 total years of expected life lost due to cancers of the lung, trachea and bronchi are documented in both males and females in the 2004 Community Health Assessment in the 94124 zip code exceeding all other regions of the city. After 2009 DPH no longer posted data on cancer incidence and mortality in the 94124 zip code.

Article 31 of the Hunters Point Shipyard and the Department of Public Health’s Revenue Driven Incentive to “Move Earth” at a Federal Superfund Site

Frank Herbert, author of Dune once said, “The highest function of science is the understanding of consequences.” This quote rang through my head while attending the Health Commission hearing on November 16, 2004 in which Article 31 of the Hunters Point Shipyard was adopted. Article 31 appears to protect human health by mandating health and safety plans that address the hazards of each phase of shipyard development and include requirements and procedures for employee protection including health and safety risk or hazard analysis and medical surveillance.

Article 31 of the Health Code establishes enforcement mechanisms including withholding or denial of permits, stop work orders, penalties for permit violations and mandatory civil penalties. Article 31 was adopted as an ordinance by the Board of Supervisors on December 14, 2004.

In application however, Article 31 acts as a “poison pill” conflict of interest between DPH, Lennar and San Francisco city government as documented by the 2010 Civil Grand Jury Report on the Hunters Point Shipyard. Funding for the oversight and implementation of Article 31 comes from developer fees imposed on Lennar Developers by the Environmental Division of DPH for construction and excavation activities that generate more than 50 cubic yards of soil. Article 31 establishes funding for the site mitigation engineer held by Amy Brownell, P.E. set at $586 in administrative fees and $153 hourly consulting fees when more than 50 cubic yards of soil are disturbed at HPS.

Thus, DPH enjoys a revenue stream from earth moving activities at HPS and this revenue incentivizes development of a contaminated property at the expense of public health.

As such, Amy Brownell has played a pivotal role for over 25 years as the sole DPH spokesperson for HPS development. On January 22, 2009 the HPS Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) voted unanimously to remove Brownell from her permanent regulatory seat on the RAB as DPH representative . This action was taken due to a litany of well documented incidents in which Brownell engaged in deceit, fraud and misrepresentation of conditions at HPS. Brownell appears at community meetings, government hearings and media reports as a health department representative often commenting on health and medical issues outside her scope as a professional engineer. Youtube footage taken at the May 14, 2018 hearing of the Land Use Committee of the Board of Supervisors, documents Brownell speaking outside of her scope of practice as a soil engineer in attributing the enormously high incidence of cardiopulmonary diseases documented in Bayview Hunters Point as due to “stress.”

In 2009 the US Navy disbanded the RAB in an action opposed by the EPA. In the letter announcing it’s decision the Navy cited the unanimous no confidence vote taken by the elected oversight board to replace Brownell as justification. Additionally the RAB voted unanimously in support of a development moratorium on Parcel A.

Fueling conflicts between elected members of the RAB, the Navy, and DPH were emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in 2009 by a coalition of community groups that documented collusion between Brownell, EPA remediation manager Mark Ripperda and Lennar representatives to shut down the HV-12 community air monitor overlooking the Parcel A hilltop that detected astronomical exceedences in asbestos. The FOI act emails also document Brownell strategizing on talking points to minimize the health impacts of chronic asbestos exposure and engaging in defaming comments about residents being exposed to toxic dust.

Today we face an unprecedented threat to human health, safety and future generations as the Tetra Tech scandal mushrooms to include new reports by the US Navy of 28 fraudulently cleared buildings on six parcels at HPS along with a March 30, 2018 report by EPA that 93% of soil samples on land transferred to the city and county of San Francisco in 2015 are flawed by “potential falsification, data manipulation and data quality concerns.” The parcels in question border former Parcel A where families are now housed according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility executive director Jeff Ruch. Ruch obtained the EPA review under the Freedom of Information Act and states, “Documents emerging in recent weeks show that the radiation testing or soil covering most of the shipyard and its buildings are inaccurate and utterly useless from a public health standpoint.”

That March 30, 2018 EPA letter was copied to Amy Brownell of the San Francisco Department of Public Health who claims to have worked on the Hunters Point Cleanup for 25 years and is quoted in the May 30, 2018 edition of the Chronicle as saying, “We can say definitively there are no public safety concerns or health concerns out there.”

In recent months I have petitioned the San Francisco Health Commission, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the California Board of Professional Engineers to investigate Amy Brownell P.E. for well documented incidents of professional misconduct, criminal fraud and misrepresentation and violations of the Professional Engineers Act Business and Professions Code section 6700.

DPH has demonstrated negligence in physician oversight and population surveillance of residents, workers and school aged children enrolled in 20 schools within a one mile radius of the Hunters Point Shipyard - A Federal Superfund Site.

As a former physician specialist for the Department of Public Health and founding chair of the Radiological Subcommittee of the Hunters Point Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board I hereby declare the Hunters Point Shipyard to be a Public Health Emergency and call for a full moratorium on development under Article 31 of the Health Code adopted as an Ordinance by the Board of Supervisors on December 14, 2004.
§Pelosi Helped Prevent An Investigation of The Criminal Cover-up
by Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi along with other San Francisco politicians have colluded and conspired to prevent an investigation of the contamination and falsification of testing by Tetra Tech and Test America.
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