New report heightens radiation concerns at SF Hunters Point

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A meeting was held Thursday night to go over the latest reports on potential contamination of the old Hunters Point Shipyard site in San Francisco. 

A new report suggests the radiation left behind by the Navy is far worse than what residents were told. 

Families have moved into new housing at the former Navy base and are concerned about potential health hazards. Some residents said buying their home was a dream come true and that the area was affordable and offers great views. 

Now they're seeing an uncertain future. 

Critics say residents have never been fully informed about the scope of the Navy's radiological activities at Hunters Point and the lack of environmental controls. 

Linda Parker Pennington bought her townhouse three years ago on land where the Naval Shipyard was once located. 

"If they told us...the developer said it was clean and it was safe to move in, then why wouldn't we trust that?" she said. 

Trust started to erode after allegations that test results from teh base clean-up were manipulated. More recently, the discovery of a small radioactive disc-- a Navy deck marker-- was found just below the surface of the ground, 50 feet from homes. 

"It's designed to glow in the dark on navy ships. It did so by being quite radioactive," said Daniel Hirsch a retired director of UC Santa Cruz' environmental and nuclear policy program. He's been studying the site for three years. 

Hirsch met with residents Thursday night to release his latest findings. 

"Steam cleaning, sandblasting radioactive ships burning hundreds of thousands of gallons of radioactive fuel, all that can spread the radioactivity throughout the entire area," Hirsch said. 

The key conclusion of Hirsch's report is that the extent of radioactive activities at Hunters Point was far greater than the public has been led to believe. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has said based on the work done and the history of the new site, "We do not believe anyone living or working at Hunters Point faces any health risk." 

Still, homeowners are not reassured. 

Theo Ellington, an area resident and homeowner, said he was scared, angry and motivated to do something. 

He is running for District Supervisor, representing Hunters Point. He bought a condo in the area two years ago. He and his wife plan on raising their newborn son here. 

"I always imagined owning a home in the community I was raised in. To find out the entire site is contaminated doesn't sit well with me," Ellington said. 

In addition to health concerns, homeowners said they are worried about their property values dropping. Now they're demanding further testing and a thorough cleanup.