Newly reported cases of potential radiation on Treasure Island have raised alarm and prompted the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday to call for a hearing next week to address the reports.
The City is preparing to take over ownership of the island from the U.S. Navy for a purchase price of $100 million to make way for 8,000 homes, a hotel and an upgraded marina. The deal requires the Navy to clean up the island’s contamination, work that must be approved by state regulatory health agencies.
But recent reports in both the Bay Citizen and the East Bay Express have suggested there is more radiological contamination on the island than once thought, revealing tension between the state agencies and the Navy over cleanup.
On Wednesday, members of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee expressed concerns about these reports when voting on one-year lease extensions between tenants of the island and the Treasure Island Development Authority, which oversees its day-to-day operations. The committee sent the agreements to the full board for a vote next week without recommending whether to approve them.
Supervisor John Avalos asked that the full board receive a briefing on the contamination issue.
“I worry just with the word ‘potential’ when it comes to radiation,” Avalos said.
An Aug. 6 Navy draft report identified nine new areas with a “potential” for radiological contamination, raising concerns about health risks for people on the island.
Eric Brooks, a Green Party member, advised the board to take the utmost caution and evacuate the island’s approximate 2,000 residents to housing on the mainland. “Put a hold on everything until we know exactly what is going on, on that island,” Brooks said.
On Aug. 31, Treasure Island’s Director of Island Operations Mirian Saez and Development Project Director Michael Tymoff sent letters to island tenants and residents in response to the news reports. The letter said that “based on current information,” the state regulatory agencies “are not aware of any human health risk to people living and working on Treasure Island.”
Tymoff told the supervisors that last week state regulatory agencies “went out to Treasure Island and conducted surveys and scans independent of the Navy’s investigations” of three areas that have been identified as having potential additional radiological contamination. “All scans of these areas showed no radiological contamination,” Tymoff said. “Preliminary analysis of surface wipes that were taken at these areas also showed no signs of radiological contamination.”
The full board meets Tuesday to vote on the agreements and discuss the contamination developments.