«September 2004 Bayview Hunters Point Mothers Environmental Health & Justice Committee Huntersview Tenants Association Greenaction for Health & ...»
Pollution, Health, Environmental Racism and Injustice:
A Toxic Inventory of Bayview Hunters Point,
Bayview Hunters Point Mothers Environmental Health & Justice Committee
Huntersview Tenants Association
Greenaction for Health & Environmental Justice
This report is the result of a year-long collaboration between the Huntersview Tenants
Association and Greenaction for Health & Environmental Justice that was funded by the San
Francisco Foundation. The objective of the project was to mobilize, train, and empower community mothers in the fight for environmental health and justice in Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco. Participants received skill trainings in basic computer skills, computer research on environmental issues, leadership and community organizing, environmental health, public speaking, media skills, and working with government agencies that regulate the environment.
During the year they collected information about their community, attended and spoke at government informational meetings and hearings, and visited government agencies and met with government officials to advocate for their community.
As part of that project, participants formed a grassroots community group called “The Bayview Hunters Point Mothers Environmental Health & Justice Committee”. Over the course of the year
they set several goals for themselves:
1) To examine the environment in their own neighborhood and prioritize the issues they felt most urgently needed to be addressed;
2) To present the results of their research to the community in order to generate additional involvement from the community in environmental health and justice issues.
The content of this report is the result of internet research by project partners, and visits and phone calls to regulatory agencies. Information was gathered on pollution sources and hazardous waste sites using websites of the United States Environmental Protection Agency including “Envirofacts” and TRIS, other government agency websites including those of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and websites such as the Environmental Defense Fund’s “Scorecard”. Project partners made personal visits to the most important sites and to the USEPA Superfund Records Center in San Francisco to research if there had been any recent changes in the status of the sites.
As many people may not be familiar with Bayview Hunters Point, we have included a brief history of the community and an overview of the environmental health and justice issues that have plagued our small community. We have also included information about air pollution, water pollution, toxic waste sites, Leaking Underground Fuel Tanks (LUFTS), and air quality complaints.
We deeply appreciate the support of San Francisco Foundation and all the people and organizations that have helped to make the project a success.
Acknowledgements Project partners gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the San Francisco Foundation, As You Sow Foundation, and Abelard Foundation, without whom, the project would not have been possible.
The following people contributed to the Mothers Environmental Health & Justice Project and
their help is also kindly acknowledged:
Huntersview Tenants Association Tessie Ester, President Monica Autry, Vice President Sabrina Warren, Treasurer Pamela Jackson, Secretary Connie Wilson, Parliamentarian The Bayview Mothers Environmental Health & Justice Committee Darlene Fleming, Committee Member Latrice Alexander, Committee Member Lonnie Wilson, Committee Member Deana Parmer, Committee Member Ina Modine, Committee Member Tiffany Purchil, Committee Member Genese Hughes, Committee Member Sheree Beard, Committee Member Mechlyn Morris, Committee Member Jackie Jarmen, Committee Member Juanita Bifford, Committee Member Greenaction for Health & Environmental Justice Marie Harrison, Environmental Justice Community Organizer Karl Krupp, Community Health Advocate Bradley Angel, Executive Director Table of Contents Bayview Hunters Point: A Study in Environmental Injustice 5
The Most Polluted Bodies of Water near Bayview Hunters Point 13 Facilities Discharging Into Water in Bayview Hunters Point 14 Hazardous Waste and Brownfield Sites in Bayview Hunters Point Evaluated for the National Priorities List 16
Bayview Hunters Point: A Study in Environmental Injustice The Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco is bounded by Cesar Chavez St. to the north, the San Francisco Bay to the east, the City and County of San Francisco border to the south and US Highway 101 to the west. The neighborhood is home to approximately 34,800 people, and more than 500 heavy and light industrial companies, retail stores, and commercial establishments.
According to U.S. 2000 census data, approximately 48% of residents in Bayview Hunters Point are African American, 1.3% American Indian, 23% are Asian and Pacific Islanders, 17% are Hispanic and 10% are White. Income levels are significantly lower, and unemployment rates significantly higher for this small community, than for San Francisco as a whole: Nearly 40% of Bayview Hunters Point residents have annual incomes below $15,000, while only 20% of the City’s population as a whole have incomes that low, and the unemployment rate is 13% in Bayview Hunters Point, more than twice as high as the City as a whole.
Most impacted by adverse environmental conditions are the 12,000 residents or 4,400 households living on the east side of Third Street in close proximity to heavy industry, power plants, and truck traffic. Of these households, approximately 70% are African American; 15% are Asian (primarily Chinese and South Pacific Islanders) and the remainder Hispanic or Caucasian. The east side of Third St. is also the poorest section of Bayview Hunters Point: At least 40% of these residents live at subsistence income levels. Two-thirds of the approximately 1,110 households within a one-mile radius of the PG&E power plant live in low-income public housing.
Over half of the land in San Francisco that is zoned for industrial use is in Bayview Hunters Point. The neighborhood is home to one federal Superfund site, the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, the polluting and unnecessary PG&E Hunters Point Power Plant, a sewage treatment plant that handles 80% of the City’s solid wastes, 100 Brownfield sites (a Brownfield is an abandoned, idled, or underused industrial or commercial facility where expansion or redevelopment is limited because environmental contamination), 187 leaking underground fuel tanks (LUFTs)1, and more 124 hazardous waste handlers regulated by the USEPA2. This small community of color has also has ten times as many contaminated water dischargers on a per capita basis as the rest of San Francisco, four times as many as many polluted air dischargers, five times as many facilities storing acutely hazardous materials, three times as many underground storage tanks, and four times as many contaminated industrial sites 3.
Environmental Health The health of local residents has been heavily impacted by the ongoing environmental contamination of the community’s soil and water with particulates, pesticides, petrochemicals, heavy metals, asbestos, radioactive materials; more than 200 toxic chemicals and materials California State Water Resources Control Board USEPA-Regulated Facilities in 94124, Envirofacts, Multisystem Query, August 2004 West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, Clifford Rechtschaffen, 1996 according to the Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)4. Health surveys show that in Bayview Hunters Point, rates of cervical and breast cancer were found to be double the rate found in other parts of the Bay Area5, and hospitalization rates for congestive heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, and emphysema were found to be more than three times the statewide average6.
The most vulnerable residents, children and infants, are the most affected by the environmental health threats. Bayview Hunters Point and the bordering neighborhood of Potrero Hill account for more than half of all infant mortality in the San Francisco area. One study found that the overall rate of birth defects for the area was 44.3 per 1000 births, compared with 33.1 per 1000 births for the rest of San Francisco County7. Bayview Hunters Point is also the zip code with the fifth highest rate of child lead poisoning in San Francisco8.
Asthma is a serious and growing challenge for residents of Bayview Hunters Point. The Bayview Point Health and Environmental Assessment Task Force, in collaboration with the University of California and the San Francisco Department of Public Health, found that 10 percent of Bayview Hunters point residents reported having asthma, compared to 5.6 percent nationally. Among children, the asthma rate was one in six or 15.5%9.
Air Quality The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) estimates that of the 39 pollutants they measure in San Francisco neighborhoods, the highest concentration, 20 pollutants, was found in Bayview Hunters Point10. Air quality is impacted by a variety of different sources including diesel and gasoline vehicles traveling on highways 280 and 101, noxious fumes from the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Facility, pollution from the PG&E Hunters Point Power Plant and the Mirant Power Plant which is less than a mile away, and air emissions from hundreds of industrial activities, most notably those located in the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
PG&E’s Hunters Point Power Plant, by itself, discharges almost 600 tons of pollution into the air each year including PM10 particles, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds11.
Bayview blues: San Francisco community activists fight the Navy's toxic legacy, Howard, Brian, E: The Environmental Magazine; Found at: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1594/is_1_13/ai_82352620 San Francisco Department of Public Health, “Comparison of Incidence of Cancer in Selected Sites between Bayview Hunters Point and the Bay Area”, 1994.
San Francisco Department of Health, Hospitalizations for Bayview Hunters Point 1991-1992.
San Francisco Fetal Infant Mortality Review Program, Annual Report of Findings to the Community (1998), California Birth Defects Monitoring Program, 1999 SF Department of Public Health, Surveillance Data Analysis (1991-1996) Bayview Hunters Point Health and Environmental Task Force Community Survey, Draft Presentation, presented at “The Landscape of Out Dreams Environmental Health Symposium,” Oct. 9, 1999.
High Rates of Disease in Bayview: Study lends weight to pollution fears; Rojas, Aurelio, San Francisco Chronicle, Monday, June 9, 1997 Facility Search Report – Criteria Air Pollutants-Faculty Detail, Air Data, 1999, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Bayview Hunters Point is part of an area designated as nonattainment for State and federal ozone air quality standards. The San Francisco Bay Area air basin, of which the community is a part, also exceeds State standards for PM10 and PM2.5, particulate matter in the air caused by a combination of wind-blown fugitive dust; emissions from combustion sources, power plants and manufacturing processes; and organic, sulfate, and nitrate aerosols formed in the air from emitted hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides12.
Seasonal weather patterns also exacerbate air pollution problems: the area is subject to temperature inversions that trap emissions from vehicles and stationary sources near the ground—causing dangerous conditions for people who suffer from lung or heart diseases, children, and the elderly. In addition, winds in the area are usually light, predominantly from the north and south in the winter, and westerly in the spring, summer and fall. This means that air pollution from industrial operations at the Naval Shipyard, the Mirant Power Plant, and PG&E’s Hunters Point Power plant, are blown back into the community during most of the year, further exacerbating the community’s poor air quality.
The Six Most Common Air Pollutants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors emissions for six common pollutants:
volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and ammonia. According to the USEPA, these air pollutants cause the following serious
public health and environmental problems:
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile Organic Compounds, in combination with nitrogen oxides, are responsible for ground level ozone and smog. Smog has both health and environmental impacts. Although healthy individuals suffer eye irritation and a decrease in lung function when exposed to smog, people with asthma or other respiratory problems suffer disproportionately. Decreased lung function may be accompanied by coughing, nausea, chest pain and pulmonary congestion.
Particulate Matter (PM10, PM2.5)
Many scientific studies have linked particulate matter to significant health problems, including:
aggravated asthma; increases in respiratory symptoms like coughing and difficult or painful breathing; chronic bronchitis; decreased lung function; and premature death. Particulate matter is also a major cause of reduced visibility, acidity in lakes, and damage to forests and farm crops.
Nitrogen Oxides (NOX) Nitrogen oxides are a group of highly reactive gases, all of which contain nitrogen and oxygen in varying amounts. NOx is one of the main ingredients involved in the formation of ground-level Application for Certification for San Francisco Electric Reliability Project, City and County of San Francisco, March 2004 ozone which can trigger serious respiratory problems. It also contributes to formation of acid rain, poor water quality and global warming.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is formed when carbon in fuel is not burned completely. At low concentrations, it causes fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart disease. At higher concentrations, CO impairs vision and coordination; causes headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea and even death.