The Navy has agreed to test all of the homes on Treasure Island for radiation in reaction to public outcry over the safety of residents. This follows an NBC Bay Area investigation that exposed suspicions by neighbors that the Navy has been covering up the extent of radioactive contamination for decades. This story aired on March 24, 2014. (Published Monday, Mar 24, 2014)
After denying the presence of radiation under homes where dozens of people live, the Navy has now agreed to conduct tests for radiation contamination under all of the homes on Treasure Island. This announcement by the Navy follows an NBC Bay Area investigation in December that first exposed suspicions by neighbors that the Navy has been covering up what it knew about the extent of radiation at Treasure Island.
The recent decision by the Navy contradicts what the government has been saying to the public for years—that there is no reason to worry and there is no evidence of radiation where people are currently living.
In an exclusive interview with NBC Bay Area, subcontractor Don Wadsworth said his tests showed high levels of radiation where the Navy said there was none. Wadsworth said in his opinion, people never should have been living on Treasure Island.
The Investigative Unit also obtained internal documents showing elevated levels of radiation at 1101 Bigelow Court, an unoccupied building near residents’ homes.
Treasure Island Naval Station was built during World War II to serve as an electronics training school and also a secondary air facility for airships, blimps and seaplanes. After the war, the Navy used the site as a training center for radioactive decontamination. The base was transferred to civilian use in 1999 and many of the former military housing became subsidized rentals for low-income San Franciscans. Now about 2,500 civilians live on the island.
Longtime residents say it’s all part of a pattern of non-disclosure by the Navy, and an attempt to hide the extent of the radiation until confronted with evidence. A radioactive item was found in front of Kathryn Lundregn’s house in January in an area where her now teenage children used to play. She says her kids have numerous health issues, which she believes may be tied to the toxic legacy on the former naval base.
“It’s about time,” Lundgren said about the Navy’s decision to test for radiation contamination under homes. “I requested them to investigate at the beginning of 2011 and 2012, trying to get a more thorough examination of the neighborhood in the residential areas.”
The Navy maintains that there are no known health hazards on Treasure Island. In a statement
, the Navy wrote, “due to a recent radiological finding beneath a non-leased housing unit” and because of resident outcry the Navy has decided to conduct radiological surveys of all the units on Site 12 at Treasure Island.
The Navy has not responded to NBC Bay Area calls asking if those findings were the elevated readings uncovered by the Investigative Unit.