By Lindsay Potter
The U.S. Navy has been accused of covering up dangerous radioactivity, including high levels of strontium-90, which displaces calcium in bones and causes cancer, on a 40-acre parcel of its Hunter’s Point Shipyard in San Francisco. When the EPA flagged the 23 tests from 2021 showing elevated strontium levels, the Navy simply responded with a new set of data, showing levels “lower than zero.” The EPA said “the new testing reads as if the Navy is suppressing data results it doesn’t like.” Declared a Superfund site in 1989 and closed in 1994, the shipyard was home to the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory, the military’s biggest applied nuclear research facility, and later became a site for decontaminating ships from 1946 nuclear weapons detonations at Bikini Atoll. In 2016, the EPA stopped transfer of the land to real estate developers because the Navy was discarding “anomalous” soil samples and obscuring the true level of toxicity. Though the Navy agreed to remediate the area to a level acceptable for residential property, they repeatedly shirked this agreement — downgrading several parcels to “industrial use” with lower standards for toxicity, and installing covers in the soil to suppress contamination rather than removing the soil. On one already developed parcel, residents report cancers and health problems linked to radioactivity. There are currently 12 lawsuits related to the site.