San Francisco

State Report Finds No Radiological Health Hazards in Key Part of SF's Hunters Point Shipyard

A report released Wednesday by the California Department of Public Health has declared a key part of the former Hunter’s Point Shipyard “free from any radiological health and safety hazards” after a controversial cleanup.

Independent radiological experts from the state certified a radiological survey of Parcel A-1 and issued a progress report for Parcel A-2, revealing no radiological safety hazards to the surrounding community from either.

Parcel A-1 is an area bordered by Fisher Avenue, Spear Avenue, Crisper Avenue, and Lockwood Street.[[505537121, C]]

However, the area tested for contamination did not include the houses of people already living on Parcel A-1. According to the state, “surveying residential units is beyond the scope of this survey.”

According to a statement from San Francisco’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, which released the report, the survey results concludes that residents, workers, or visitors are “not being exposed to any anomalies.”

The former Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard is located in the southeastern portion of San Francisco.[[504368441, C]]

A statement sent out by OCII spokesperson Max Barnes said that the state conducted the survey after a request from the city and regulatory agencies "following concerns raised by the falsification of data elsewhere on the shipyard and questions about Parcel A." The survey included “a walkover scan ('hand scans') and towed array scan of the public accessible areas (uncovered areas, landscaped areas, streets and sidewalks) as well as private common areas between homes, a large stockpile and slopes.”

According to the report, “all but one of the anomalies detected was determined to be potassium-40, a naturally occurring element normally found throughout nature, including in plants, animals, various foods and our bodies.”

The other anomaly detected was a Navy deck marker containing radium, which was buried under about 10 inches of soil. State officials said that the “amount of radiation from this would not be a health or safety hazard to anyone on this site previously.”

Officials have also finished carrying out a survey of Parcel A-2, a currently uninhabited future project area and results indicate no radiation health or safety risks.[[504752581, C]]

Beginning in 1946, the Navy cleaned dozens of ships pummeled with radioactive debris during offshore atomic weapons tests and housed a nuclear defense laboratory with up to 108 radioactive isotopes at the Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco. Navy documents suggest these activities may have contaminated dozens of locations across shipyard, a federal superfund site.

Historical footage from a 1946 offshore nuclear test, dubbed Operation Crossroads, shows the extent of damaged ships that came back to the San Francisco shipyard to be decontaminated.

An NBC Bay Area investigation found the Navy identified 91 locations as potentially contaminated in a 2004 report, but never tested hundreds of other buildings and sites within the square-mile plot. The Navy says the "impacted" sites represent a significant portion of the shipyard.

Hunters Point Shipyard housed a radioactive testing lab and was used to decontaminate ships after offshore nuke tests. This 3D flyover video offers a look at what areas of the shipyard were linked to radioactive isotopes in a 2004 Navy report, and what developers have in store once the cleanup is complete.

The 2004 report, called a Historical Radiological Assessment, focuses on the radiological history of the site. It is based on documents, maps and firsthand accounts that indicate a building or area could be radiologically contaminated due to past Navy operations.

It is unclear if the Navy has deemed any other sites to be potentially impacted by radioactive contamination since it released its 2004 report. It is also unclear if the cleanup has extended beyond what was initially believed to be contaminated when the assessment was completed.

To view a parcel map of Hunters Point Shipyard, go to

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