Treasure Island’s cleanup to begin 

Treasure Island’s largest environmental cleanup project to date is slated to begin next month on the island’s north side — with some of the work to be done around residents who opted to stay in their rental units.

The U.S. Navy, along with state officials, is scheduled to make a final decision on the method of cleanup during the first week of February, according to James Sullivan, the Navy’s environmental coordinator for Treasure Island.

Due to its former use as a naval base, Treasure Island’s soil is contaminated with such toxic substances as lead, petroleum and metals.

The City and the Navy are in negotiations to hand over Treasure Island to San Francisco, which has an ambitious $1.2 billion plan to transform the 450-acre island into a new neighborhood with 6,000 newhomes and commercial development.

The Navy has already spent more than $100 million for cleanup throughout the island; the north side project — the previous site of an ammunition bunker and a place to incinerate and dispose of debris — is expected to cost another $10 million, Sullivan said.

At a meeting of the Treasure Island Development Authority on Wednesday, Ned York of the John Stewart Co., the Island’s housing management company, said there are residents living in 31 units within the environmental cleanup area. Residents in 12 of those units were required to move, since the work would essentially block the front and rear entrances to their units.

"We’ve given them the choice of moving to a similarly sized apartment on Treasure Island, either temporarily or permanently," York told the board.

Residents of the other 19 units were given the option of staying or relocating to a temporary or permanent apartment on the island, and they chose to stay, according to York, who said rent reductions and moving assistance were offered to all tenants.

Although five options are being reviewed for the housing area cleanup — which will be divided into three parcels, totaling 6.3 acres — the Navy’s preferred alternative is to excavate and remove soil down to 4 feet, Sullivan told the Treasure Island board members.

Treasure Island Development Authority member Jared Blumenthal, who is director of The City’s Department of the Environment, told Sullivan that he was pleased the Navy wants to excavate the soil instead of merely paving it over.

According to a public handout created by the Navy, air monitoring and dust suppression activities will occur during all excavation activities.

The contaminated soil under the houses won’t be excavated since "the building itself acts as a barrier," Sullivan said after the meeting.

That won’t be the case 10 or so years from now, according to The City’s redevelopment proposal for Treasure Island. As part of the last phase of that plan, by 2018, the current housing area will be replaced by park space and wetland area.

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Bonnie Eslinger

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