Supes nix Hunters Point asbestos dust claims

Residents who claimed a major redevelopment project in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood is sending asbestos-laden dust into the air and causing health complications failed to garner the support of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday for bringing the project to a halt.

In response to the health concerns, Supervisor Chris Daly introduced a resolution calling for an immediate halt to the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard construction project in order to conduct an independent study on possible health impacts. For more than a year, Lennar Corp. has been preparing one parcel of the massive shipyard for a 1,600-unit residential development.

Hundreds turned out for Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors hearing, which went on for hours. Some residents said their health is suffering.

In a 6-5 vote, the board defeated the resolution, apparently not agreeing that the work is jeopardizing the health of nearby residents. The resolution would not have allowed the board to halt the project, but it would have sent a clear message to the Redevelopment Agency, which oversees the shipyard, that they lacked governmental support for the project.

Activists and neighborhood residents claim that Lennar has failed to adequately monitor and prevent the dust from blowing into residential areas.

City Health Director Mitch Katz, who has the authority to order a work stoppage if he discovers health risks, said Tuesday that the work “does not pose any human health risks.” Katz also said that in the past, there were three validated complaints about dust, but “we have not had a validated complaint about dust in the last six months going over that perimeter” of the site.

Minister Christopher Muhammed, who heads the Muhammed University of Islam near the shipyard, said an independent study is needed, and “if there are problems, then this becomes one of the worst cases of environmental racism right in our backyard.”

Lennar spokesman Sam Singer cited Katz’s testimony that, he said, proves the work is not adversely impacting people’s health and that the majority of Bayview-Hunters Point residents support the work for the benefits it will bring the community. Singer added that the soil work that stirs the dust is expected to be complete by mid-August.

Supporters of the project said a halt in construction would jeopardize the economic benefits the project would bring to the long-troubled community.

Pastor Aurelius Walker said studies show “asbestos is not causing any long-term health problems,” that no studies have yet to show any adverse health impacts, and that “no one is pulling the wool over anybody’s eyes.”

jsabatini@examiner.com


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