Ahimsa Porter Sumchai MD
7 min readMay 22, 2021

Mighty Acorns Grow!

Bayview Hunters Point Environmental Health & Justice Leaders Meet with High Ranking EPA Officials

Mighty Oaks — From Little Acorns Grow

“Mighty oaks — from little acorns grow is a 14th century English proverb that inspires us to never give up and to always remember that great things do indeed come from very small beginnings.”

An adorable eight year old crowned “Little Miss Flint” wrote an endearing letter to an American President in March of 2016 from her home in Flint, Michigan requesting to meet with him about the public health crisis in her community.

April 25, 2016 marked the second anniversary of the Flint Michigan water crisis that began when the city drinking water source was switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River as a cost saving measure. That ill fated decision led to lead and bacterial contamination leaching into the faucets of homes… and nine charges of involuntary manslaughter five years later.

A September 2015 research study conducted by pediatrician and public health expert Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha found the percentage of Flint children with elevated lead levels doubled citywide and tripled among those at highest risk of lead exposure.

A spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Public Health countered by claiming blood lead levels had remained steady for children under the age of 16 since the city switched to Flint river.

Dr. Attisha and Dr. Lawrence Reynolds, president and CEO of Mott Children’s Center, met with Public Works Director Howard Croft on September 21, 2015 and were told it would bankrupt the city to return to a clean drinking water source from Lake Huron.

Elevated lead found in more Flint kids after water switch, study finds. Authored by Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha, results of the study were delivered to Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and City Administrator Natasha Henderson on September 24, 2015. Independent testing conducted by Virginia Tech University documented a drastic increase in lead levels in children rising from 2.5% to 6.3% and recommended the city declare a health advisory to trigger additional resources from the federal government. The

Based on a database of blood tests collected from over 150 doctors and health care providers, Dr. Attisha’s research study recommended the city declare a public health emergency to secure additional federal government resources.

On September 24, 2015 a coalition of health professionals representing the county Medical Society, Greater Flint Michigan Health Coalition and Community Health Network held a news conference in support of a public health advisory calling for a reconnection with Lake Huron as Flints water source.

“The doctors said they are issuing their recommendations, including an end to the use of the Flint River as a water source, because the city has so far failed to act.” https;//www.mlive.com/news/flint/2015/09/study_shows_twice_as_many_flin.html

On April 25, 2016, President Barack Obama wrote back to “Little Miss Flint” announcing he would be coming to town on May 4th to hear first hand from vulnerable residents like Mary Copeny and receive briefings on federal efforts in place to respond to the needs of the people of Flint and speak directly with members of the Flint, Michigan community:

Read the letter from “Little Miss Flint” that stirred Obama to visit Flint. “And I am so proud of you for using your voice to speak out on behalf of the children of Flint.”
It worked! Popsugar.com reports Obama finally met “Little Miss Flint”, and it was beyond adorable.

The Flint Michigan water crisis continues to inspire us as “little acorns grow.” A fairness hearing over the proposed partial settlement of $641 million in civil lawsuits filed by 150 Flint residents has been scheduled by a federal judge to be heard in July of 2021.

Hundreds of toxic sites await cleanup as the future of the Superfund program under the Trump administration is questioned. The EPA Office of Superfund Remediation under President Joe Biden affirms, “We’re committed to ensuring that the hazardous waste sites on the National Priorities List are cleaned up to protect the environment and the health of all Americans.” https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-office-land-and-emergency-management

On Earth Day 2021 in San Francisco California, Hunters Point community leaders- including Democratic County elected representative Gloria Berry, SF Bayview editor Malik Washington and Arieann Harrison — founder of the Marie Harrison Community Foundation -joined a broad coalition of environmental activists, doctors and lawyers on the steps of City Hall to call for a local public health emergency under California law applied to “any situation where urgent and immediate action is required to mitigate or prevent an adverse situation that threatens public health, property and the environment.”

We Can’t Breathe is the cry of a community suffocated by toxic dust exposures and abandoned through the benign neglect of San Francisco city government and health department officials.

As reported in the SF Bayview Newspaper article, Why I am calling for a Local Health Emergency in San Francisco, California Health & Safety Code Section 10108 includes a regulation enacted to facilitate immediate response to hazardous materials and spills and expanded to include ANY “imminent and proximate threat of the introduction of ANY contagious, infectious or communicable disease, chemical agent, noncommunicable biologic agent, toxin or radioactive element.”

Urinary toxic exposure screenings conducted by HP Biomonitoring on Hunters Point and Treasure Island residents offer proof of exposure and associated health effects when combined with geospatial mappings of clusters of environmentally linked cancers and diseases.

The April 22, 2021 community led declaration of a local public health emergency declaration mirrors the September 24, 2015 call by Flint Michigan residents, doctors and health officials for a public health advisory “to secure additional federal funding and resources….because the city has so far failed to act”

Human Biomonitoring (HBM) and Geospatial Mapping Applied to Determining Imminent and Proximate Threat to Human Safety at a Federal Superfund System/ by Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program. Urinary toxic exposure screenings conducted on Hunters Point and Treasure Island residents and workers offer ever expanding proof of exposure and associated health effects.

The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program mapping of documented cancer cases clustered around the Hunters Point Shipyard shows the greatest number of confirmed cases in the region of the shipyards historic entry at 3rd Street and Palou and along the western border of the chemical and radiation contaminated Parcel E shoreline. Pin colors correspond to cancers linked to ionizing radiation exposure including red: breast cancer, green: thyroid cancer and nodules, yellow: brain cancer and brain tumors, blue: cancers of the larynx, airways and lungs, white: leukemia, lymphoma and hematopoietic cancers, gold: cancers of the colon & reproductive organs (including uterine corpus and prostate), silver: basal cell carcinoma of skin, and black: canine cancer deaths/canine fibrosarcoma.

“I am requesting the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the findings of the Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program that document three distinct clusters of human exposure and associated health effects in residents and workers within a one mile radius of the federal Superfund system at the Hunters Point Shipyard including the Parcel E-2 landfill, Yosemite Slough and the joint naval base at Treasure Island. These clusters identify the Superfund system to be the source of exposure and soil contaminants documented by the EPA to be present in shipyard soils are being detected in urinary toxic exposure screenings conducted on residents and workers beginning in 2019.”

Ahimsa Porter Sumchai MD PD, Medical Director & Principal Investigator Excerpt from letter sent to EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan copied to EPA Region 9 Administrator Enrique Manzanilla on March 26, 2021

On Thursday, May 5, 2021 a letter sent to the Biden administration EPA Administrator Michael Regan requesting a meeting with federal EPA officials to present mounting evidence of community wide exposure to toxic dust generated by excavations being conducted on properties meeting federal Superfund criteria at Hunters Point, Yosemite Slough and Treasure Island was granted.

Convened by Barry Breen, Principal Deputy Assistant EPA Administrator of the Office of Land and Emergency Management, the virtual meeting was attended by fifteen high ranking federal and Region 9 EPA officials including Matthew Tejada — Director Office of Environmental Justice, Greg Gervais — Director Federal Facilities Restoration & Reuse, John Chestnut and Yolanda Sanchez of the Region 9 EPA.

The EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management provides policy, guidance and direction for the Agency’s emergency response and toxic waste programs. OLEM governs the Office of Superfund Remediation and is charged with supporting local governments in redeveloping and reusing contaminated sites and responding to active hazardous waste sites and chemical releases through the Superfund program.

“At EPA, we know it’s not just about the cleanup. We’re leading with the mentality that environmental protection and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive.” Michael S. Regan — EPA Administrator

EPA administrator Michael S. Regan said his immediate priorities for the agency are restoring the role of science in developing rules and rebuilding morale. Photo by Caroline Brehman

On Tuesday May 3, 2021 EPA Administrator Michael Regan made his first official trip to a Superfund site in Des Moines, Iowa — the nation’s largest ethanol and biodiesel producer.

On Friday, May 14, 2021 EPA Administrator Michael Regan cited failures to properly operate pollution controls and violations of the Clean Air Act in the decision to shut down an oil refinery in the US Virgin Islands for 60 day due to multiple improperly conducted operations that…”present an imminent risk to public health.”

“These repeated incidents at the refinery have been and remain totally unacceptable…residents in St. Croix are already overburdened by pollution and other environmental harms.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/15/refinery-pollution-st-croix-us-virgin-islands

Mighty Acorns Grow! Mari Copeny — Activism — The Shorty Awards. Since her 2016 letter to President Barack Obama, “Little Miss Flint” has raised $350,000 for the children of Flint, Michigan through active fundraising and social media advocacy.

Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment

White House Briefing Room — Presidential Actions — January 20, 2021
Ahimsa Porter Sumchai MD

Founder, Director, PI - HP Biomonitoring/ Founding Chair- Radiological Committee Hunters Point Shipyard RAB 2001, Former Attending MD VA Toxic Registry & SFDPH