Candlestick’s possible implosion raises dust plume health fears in Bayview

ap file photo

The shell of Candlestick Park may still loom over the shoreline on The City’s southeast edge, yet it’s no secret that the old stadium will be brought to its knees soon.

However, the nature of that execution has some people in the Bayview-Hunters Point worried about health impacts.

The demolition was originally planned – and studied for its environmental impacts — as a piece-by-piece mechanical take down.

But another possibility has been afoot since Lennar Corp. requested The City study a different sort of demolition – implosion

Lennar is the developer of a mixed-use shopping center on the site, along with the massive project at the nearby Hunters Point shipyard.

If green-lit, the implosion process would be quicker and cheaper for the developer, representatives for which did not return calls for comment.

But that quick, and perhaps dirty, process has neighborhood leaders and others worried that the resulting dusty plume will blow toxins across the area and harm residents.

In fact, they don’t need a study to tell them that.

“Imploding Candlestick will cause irreparable environmental harm,” Shirley Moore, vice president of the Bayview Hill Neighborhood Association, told a recent meeting of the Redevelopment Agency’s successor, the Office of Community Infrastructure and Investment (OCII), which is overseeing the project.

A yet-to-be-complete Planning Department-led study of the proposal’s possible negative impacts should say if in fact that is a possibility. If there are increased negative impacts found, then a new environmental review will be called for, according to the Planning Department.

Until then, residents can only rely on past studies of similar demolition and what they know is inside the stadium’s walls, as well as past infractions by Lennar.

Raymond Tompkins, a Bayview resident and scientist who has taught at UC Berkeley, said studies of similar implosions show that dust plumes have traveled as far as 20 kilometers from the site.

Yet, said Tompkins, a preliminary Lennar document showing the limits of a cloud has it going only a short distance from Candlestick.

“They are saying the laws of physics don’t apply to Bayview Hunters Point,” he told a meeting of the OCII last week. For now, what is known is what lies within the stadium’s bones.

Specifically, a Dec. 16 memo from OCII noted that the stadium contains the following hazardous materials: asbestos-containing materials, PCBs and lead-based paint.

Lennar, said the memo, has been actively remediating the stadium in preparation for demolition so that any hazardous materials are removed.

Still, residents have good reason not to trust Lennar when it comes to dangerous dust. The company was fined more than $500,000 by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in 2008 for allowing asbestos-containing dust to drift into nearby neighborhoods during grading work.

Communications between Lennar, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the San Francisco Public Health Department obtained in a public records act request in 2011 found what may have been a cover-up of area’s exposure to asbestos-contaminated dust near the Hunters Point shipyard.

Such allegations were denied by the agencies involved and Lennar said the levels of asbestos in dust were not harmful, which was followed by an investigation that found that no collusion had occurred.

Nevertheless, concerns remain about the health harms from an implosion of Candlestick.

“The fears are that Lennar will get to contaminate this neighborhood again with dust,” said Eric Brooks with Our City Grass Roots Campaign. “Now they are asking The City to let them do this again and that’s just crazy.”

Bay Area NewsCandlestick ParkLennar Corp.neighborhoodsSan Francisco redevelopment

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