Monday, 12 September 2011 07:40

Wasteland Hunters Point Naval shipyard

    The abandoned shipyard is full of toxins and radioactive materials left over from WW II and the cold.

    Located on 638 acres along the San Francisco bay, Hunters Point Naval Shipyard is a sprawling memory of the cold war. Unfortunately for the residents of the predominately African American community living near by, it is a wasteland of chemical contaminates and environmental hazards.

    The shipyard was operated by the Navy from 1941 until 1974 when it was deactivated. During this time Hunters Point had the distinction of being the only shipyard in Northern California, which was able to accommodate large battle ships, and later submarines.

    At its height during WWII the shipyard employed up to eighteen thousand employees to boast the war effort.
    In the early years of operation the shipyards main purpose was to build ships and repair those that came into port. One defining moment that will play a key role in the future of Hunters Point was in July of 1945.

    It was here that the main components of the first atomic bomb where transferred to the USS Indianapolis.
    Shortly after the war the US government began testing hydrogen bombs in the South Pacific.

    One test at Bikini Atoll code named operation “Crossroads” used 90 ships with a support fleet of 150 US Navy ships. Those ships were exposed to high amounts of radiation many of them would return to Hunters Point.

    Workers at the shipyard than sand blasted the hulls of the ships used in operation crossroads leaving paint scraps to fall off into the San Francisco bay.

    Another government project that was in operation at Hunters Point was the Naval Radiological Defense Program or (NRDL). The NRDL program was in operation from the 1940’s until 1969. The main focus of the radiological unit was to study the biological affects of ionizing radiation.

    This was done using animal subjects in experiments conducted at Hunters Point.
    Today Hunters Point is still being cleaned up but it will take years if not generations for area to recover. According to the (EPA) or the US Environmental Protection Agency.

    Groundwater, sediments, soil, and surface water are contaminated with fuels, pesticides, heavy metals, PCBs, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Soil also contains naturally occurring asbestos. A landfill located on Parcel E also contains radium dials.

    People who accidentally ingest or come in direct contact with contaminated soils, sediments, surface water, or groundwater may face a health risk. Potential threats may also be presented by off-gas from VOCs, particularly vinyl chloride, present in hot spots in soil and groundwater.
    Various radionuclides, primarily radium 226 and cesium 137, have also been found at the Shipyard.

    The EPA has declared Hunters Point one of the main Superfund sites in the United States.

    Clearly The long term affects to the environment and the people of Hunters Point due to this contamination have yet to be measured.


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