A new report released Tuesday by a nuclear policy expert concluded the public’s health is at risk because the Navy is using radiation cleanup standards at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard that are weaker than required by law.
Daniel Hirsch, the retired director of the Environmental and Nuclear Policy Program at UC Santa Cruz, was asked by residents of the Bayview-Hunters Point community to review the adequacy of the cleanup of shipyard, a federal superfund site in San Francisco.
Hirsch and a team of students reviewed thousands of government documents. They found the Navy is using outdated cleanup guidelines and that it refuses to update them, despite what Hirsch says are repeated recommendations by the Environmental Protection Agency to do so.
According to Hirsch’s research, the public would be at a vastly higher risk of cancer under the Navy’s cleanup standards than they would be if they Navy used current EPA cleanup guidelines.
Hirsch says the Navy’s cleanup standards for shipyard buildings are four decades old and “thousands of times less protective” than the EPA’s current cleanup goals. His team performed calculations and found if people were exposed to radiation inside buildings at levels allowed by the Navy’s cleanup standards, the risk – estimated by the EPA – is that every 37th person exposed would get cancer from the exposure.
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