The Navy Uncovered Strontium — 90…and they want you to think it’s okay. It’s Not!
It is a rare moment indeed at the Hunters Point Shipyard when the U.S. Navy publicly admits it has uncovered a dangerous bone seeking radionuclide with a half life of 28.9 years in concentrations exceeding those set to protect human life and safety at a federal Superfund site.
Strontium-90 is formed by nuclear explosions and is considered to be the most dangerous component of nuclear fallout by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. High levels of radioactive strontium damage bone marrow, cause anemia and blood clotting disorders.
Navy chemists detected Strontium-90 in samples obtained on a shipyard parcel in concentrations above the remediation goal set for public safety. When they reanalyzed two of the samples -Voila — the high Strontium-90 concentrations magically went away!
That would be the end of the story except that guided by EPA and regulatory input, the Navy has decided to “refine” its methods of Strontium-90 detection by increasing the size of the soil sample to 2.5 grams and extend the laboratory analysis by seven days. The Navy will reanalyze all samples using this updated method according to a Fact Sheet released to the public on October 21, 2021.
The Department of the Navy is a military organization — not a public health organization. The mission of the Navy is to “maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.”
The Navy Fact sheet concludes by asking if you should be concerned about Strontium-90 at the shipyard:
“No. Strontium-90 lab results to date have not indicated levels considered a risk to human health or the environment.” Strontium-90 Laboratory Procedures Frequently Asked Questions
Now that is one helluva oxymoronic statement! There is no safe level of radiation. That is the simple conclusion of the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation in its research on the effects on populations of exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation, health effects and health risks from 1980 to 2006.
Now that is one helluva oxymoronic statement! There is no safe level of radiation. That is the simple conclusion of the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation in its research on the effects on populations of exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation, health effects and health risks …”
Finding Strontium -90 in concentrations exceeding remediation goals in 10% of samples is conclusive evidence of risk to human health. If this were not the case the Navy would not be reanalyzing all of the samples collected in the region of concern.
“The 2006 National Academy of Sciences Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII report concluded the existing scientific evidence is consistent with the linear no-threshold model of radiation-induced cancers. According to LNT, every fraction of ionizing radiation, no matter how small, constitutes an increased cancer risk (linear with the dose). The LNT model is the basis for current radiation regulation. “ Health Impacts of Low Dose Ionizing Radiation: Current Scientific Debate and Regulatory Issues.
Strontium — 90 is a bone seeker. It is chemically similar to calcium and when inhaled your body deposits it in your bones where it emits damaging beta radiation particles to your bone marrow. Beta radiation is emitted within a short range making it most harmful if inhaled or swallowed and may lead to bone cancer or leukemia. A Toxicological profile for Strontium-90 was developed by ATSDR that examined biomarkers of exposure and effect and methods for reducing toxic effects.
Strontium 85 emits gamma rays. It has been abandoned from use to detect bone uptake in radiographic imaging. Radioactive strontium can be absorbed into the bones of small children. Large doses replace calcium in bone and lead to renal failure, bone deformity and tumors.
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies the most serious hazardous waste sites in the nation. These sites make up the National Priorities List (NPL) — sites targeted for long-term federal cleanup activities. Strontium and strontium-90 have been found in at least 102 of the 1,636 current NPL sites.”
According to EPA Facts About Strontium-90, the most common isotope of strontium is Strontium-90. Radioactive Strontium-90 is produced when uranium and plutonium undergo fission. Fission is the process whereby the nucleus of a radionuclide breaks down into smaller parts. Large amounts of radioactive strontium were produced during nuclear weapons testing.
The half-life is the time required for a radioactive substance to lose 50 percent of its radioactivity by decay. Strontium is not stable and the release of radiation caused by its decay is a concern because beta particles can pass through skin. Of greater concern is the ability of strontium to become part of the food chain particularly in calcium containing dairy products like milk and cheese. EPA has made recommendations to protect human health at Superfund sites in the fact sheet “Primer on Radionuclides Commonly Found at Superfund Sites.” EPA has established a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 4 millirems per year for beta particles from man-made radionuclides.
Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring ProgramAhimsa Sumchai Porter, MD, West Portal, Medical Director Golden State MD Health & Wellness is a longtime neighborhood and environmental activist
Unraveling the Breast Cancer Conundrum in San Francisco
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
NNational Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual international health campaign spearheaded in 1985 by Betty Ford following her breast cancer diagnosis. Designed to encourage involvement in the fight against breast cancer, the annual walks and events on behalf of charities transitioned to virtual activities as a result of the COVID — 19 pandemic.
A conundrum is a riddle-a confusing or difficult problem or question. Breast cancer disparities by race and geographic locations have been a conundrum in the San Francisco Bay Area flared by public health researchers after a statistically significant excess in invasive breast cancers cases was detected among women in Bayview Hunters Point. Additionally, the Northern California Cancer Center Bay Area had determined white women to have the highest reported breast cancer rate in the world!
The finding that Bayview women under the age of 50 contributed to a breast cancer incidence rate double that of San Francisco as a whole, was unexplainable. A total of 107 cases were detected compared to an expected 83 cases. Among African American women under 50 the number of cases detected was 28–13 were expected. Lead investigator Frances Taylor, Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control, said the reason for the high breast cancer rate “remains a puzzle.”
Based on a review of data from 1988 to 1992, the study did not analyze environmental factors, yet concluded “the high cancer rates were not associated with any of the substances to which the residents are thought to have been exposed to at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard,” which was slated to undergo a $434 million cleanup.
Exposure to ionizing radiation is the best established and longest established environmental cause of human breast cancer in both men and women. Most scientists agree that no safe dose of radiation has been identified. Ionizing Radiation — Breast Cancer Prevention Partners “
The shipyard’s history as a source of ionizing radiation operating as the national campus for the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratories for 23 years is documented in the Historical Radiological Assessment Volume II — Use of General Radiological Materials 1939–2003. According to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners this links it to the high incidences of breast cancer detected in the San Francisco Bay Area according to Breast Cancer Prevention.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) classify ionizing radiation as a known human carcinogen. Ionizing radiation has the energy to rip electrons from atoms and break chemical bonds in DNA molecules.
X-rays and gamma rays have enough ionizing energy to penetrate and damage human tissue below the skin. Repeated low-dose exposures to ionizing radiation may have the same cumulative damaging effects over time as a single high dose exposure. Sources of gamma ray emissions include radionuclide research and military weapons testing.
These activities were conducted at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard federal Superfund site from 1946 to NRDL closure in 1969 and by Lockheed and Polaris missile testing from the historic gantry crane as late as 1989. Effluents of low-level radioactive waste were poured down laboratory drains and radioactive fuel was burned in power plants over the base.
A firm link between radiation exposure and breast cancer has been connected in atomic bomb survivors, particularly women under the age of 20 when the bombs were dropped. This accounts for the breast cancer rates in Bayview women, many under the age of 50, that were found to double that of San Francisco as a whole, in the 1995 study.
In State of the Evidence 2017: Update on the connection between breast cancer and the environment, Gray, et al examine the “continually expanding and increasingly compelling data linking radiation and various chemicals in our environment to the current high incidence of breast cancer.”
The authors identify toxicants linked to observed incidences of breast cancer in a comprehensive eight-year review. Seven classes of chemicals emerged:
(1) hormones in pharmaceutical agents and personal care products
(2) endocrine disrupting compounds
(3) natural and additive hormones in food
(4) industrial chemicals
(5) tobacco smoke
(6) shift work and night shifts link to increased breast cancer incidence
High concentrations of iron, nickel, chromium, zinc, cadmium, mercury and lead were detected in cancerous breast biopsies and these metals were also found in higher concentrations in serum and urine obtained from women diagnosed with breast cancer than in healthy women. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2006;113:9–18
The authors conclude that epidemiological data strongly support a link between an increased risk of breast cancer and exposure to DES, DDT and radiation.
We find that geographic areas with Superfund sites tend to have elevated cancer risks, and elevated proportions of minority populations.”
State of the Evidence 2017 — Breast Cancer and the Environment
In a spatial study of the location of Superfund sites and associated cancer risk, Amin, et al. examined geographical areas in the US where the number of Superfund sites is high and examined the association between cancer incidence and the number of Superfund sites in counties with high minority populations. The Industrial Landfill Excess outside of Akron, Ohio is one of 1,300 Superfund sites on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List.
From 1966 to 1980, rubber companies, businesses and the military dumped a million gallons of liquid waste and 780,000 tons of solid waste into the Industrial Excess Landfill in Uniontown, Ohio. “They used our town as their chemical toilet bowl,” said Chris Borello — founder of a local Concerned Citizens group that documented “cancers in every home” in the housing development near the Ohio landfill. Residents reported seeing trucks and containers with radioactive warning signs entering the landfill late at night. Water samples from the landfill revealed man-made isotopes technetium 99, tritium and plutonium.
The Most Infamous Breast Cancer Cluster in US History is Linked to a Contaminated Water Supply
The EPA declared Camp Lejeune, North Carolina a federal Superfund site in 1989 when two wells on the base were shut down after testing detected benzene, a known carcinogen, in concentrations 76 times higher than the federal limit and trichloroethylene (TCE), a human carcinogen, in concentrations 320 times higher than the federal limit. Between the years of 1953 and 1987, Marines were exposed to toxic drinking water and, by 2012, thirty former Camp Lejeune Marines had been diagnosed with breast cancer-some as young as 40!
Men have breasts too. In 2021, 2,650 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States and 320 are expected to die from the disease. Factors linked to a rising incidence of breast cancer in men include, age over 60, race, family history, obesity, liver disease and radiation exposure to the chest.
Based on 2013–2017 data, Black men had the highest incidence and death rates from breast cancer. Beyonce Knowles father, Matthew, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. If you are a man in need of breast cancer screening in San Francisco Bay Imaging Consultants Medical Group, Inc offers customized services at The Male Breast Cancer Coalition offers caregiver resources.
Environmental links to breast cancer in San Francisco were documented in a group of female firefighters diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018-including Battalion Chief Anita Partly. According to health officials approximately 15% of female firefighters in San Francisco have been diagnosed with breast cancer-that’s six times the national average! A study conducted by the Women Firefighters Biomonitoring Collaborative is measuring exposures of concern including products of combustion, diesel exhaust and flame retardants. Over 600 chemicals have been detected in blood and serum samples from 83 women firefighters.
Urinary toxic exposure screening conducted on a Hunters Point homeowner with breast cancer, living four blocks west from the Superfund gate on Crisp Road. Elevated concentrations of radioactive and carcinogenic heavy metals were detected, including cesium, gadolinium, rubidium, thallium, strontium, manganese and vanadium.
Untangling the Breast Cancer Conundrum in San Francisco County
Margie Cherry, 58, is Miss June in the Faith Calendar of 24 black women breast cancer survivors in Bayview Hunters Point. In 2001, environmental cancer epidemiologist, Jennifer Mann, found that studies show mortality rates for African American women in Bayview are 82% higher than for Bay Area white women.
The Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry is a population based registry under the National Cancer Institutes’ Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program. The nine participating counties are also part of the California Department of Public Health Cancer Registry.
Patterns of breast cancer in the Bay Area, a region with, historically, one of the highest breast cancer rates in the country, are analyzed to identify patterns and inequities in defined populations.
According to Medscape, breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among US women-with an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive disease in 2019 — and the second leading cause of cancer deaths after lung cancer.
Analyses reveals a higher age specific incidence of breast cancer among black women younger than age 40. After age 40, white women have higher incidence rates. Data from 2017 show higher death rates in black women with breast cancer across all racial and ethnic groups. According to SEER data between 1975–2000 incidence rates among black women younger than 50 increased by 22%.
Krista Conger writes, in Stanford Medicine Scopeblog on January 10, 2018 about a multi-center JAMA study that found screening and new treatments have dramatically reduced breast cancer deaths by 49%. For all breast cancers together, 63% of the reduction in mortality was due to treatment and 37% due to screening.
We do have an excess of breast cancer in the Bay Area, San Francisco, in some years, is higher or as high as Marin County.”
Theresa Keegan — Senior Researcher Northern California Cancer Center studies environmental factors in breast cancer. 11/8/2004
In October of 2004 the Northern California Cancer Center, a regional registry and research center, analyzed data derived from its Office of Vital Records and found the rate of breast cancer for both San Francisco and Marin to be 6 to 8% higher than for other Bay Area counties-and the Bay Area, as a whole, to be 9% higher than the rest of the state. The five-year average for San Francisco for the years 1997 to 2001 rose to 178.9 per 100,000.
Among white women in San Francisco and Marin, the pattern of excess breast cancer was detected in women age 40 to 69, most often in early stages. Lobular type cancers from milking forming glandular tissue were more common than cancers of the milk duct. Related studies have linked alcohol consumption and postmenopausal hormone use to the higher-than-expected incidence.
Marching forward into 2019 research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention continued to highlight disparities in proportions of breast cancer diagnoses among racial and ethnic groups, tumor types and survival by geographic area. Disparities for African American breast cancer patients were evident across all geographic areas.
A total of 5622 patients, with a diagnosis of invasive primary breast cancer during the years 2006 and 2015, were included as cases. Medical records were reviewed to extract key data, including age at diagnosis, residential address at diagnosis, race and ethnicity and tumor characteristics. Residential address was used to assign patients to one of nine geographical areas in San Francisco.
According to Untangling Breast Cancer Disparities in San Francisco by Christina Bennett, MS in Cancer Network:
“The analysis revealed that the proportion of breast cancer diagnoses varied greatly by geographical area and race or ethnicity. For instance, while black or African American patients represented 7.2% of breast cancer diagnoses overall, they represented 25.5% of the diagnoses in the Southern areas, that is, Bayview Hunters Point.
“In addition, tumor subtype differed by geographical area. For example, geographical areas in the East and Southeast had more diagnoses of triple-negative breast cancer — around 12% — compared with other areas such as Center — South and Center — West which were about 8%.
“However the highest concentration of triple-negative breast cancer diagnoses — that is, 20% — was found among black or African American patients, and these higher rates were found across all geographic areas in San Francisco, including those in which the portion of black or African American patients was low.”
Breast Cancer in San Francisco: Disentangling Disparities at the Neighborhood Level — Alice Guan, Daphne Y. Lichtensztajn, Debora Oh, Jennifer Jain, Li Tao, Robert A. Hiatt, Scarlett Lin Gomez and Laura Fejerman. Cancer Epidemic Biomarkers Prev September 23 2019 DOI: 10.1158/1055–9965.EPI-19–0799
The questions raised by the finding of a high concentration of triple — negative breast cancer diagnoses among African American women clearly factors in the worst five year survival rate of 81.8%, when evaluated by race and ethnicity. All other groups had a five-year survival of at least 90%. Is this tumor pathology the result of environmental factors, genetic factors-or both? Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is one of the most significant racial disparities in oncology. While socioeconomic factors contribute to poor survival rates, the inherent genetic risk and aggressiveness of disease progression. TNBC is the most predominant cancer in sub-Saharan Africa, 22 countries of the America and the Caribbean.
The San Francisco Cancer Initiative, was launched in November 2016, as a community based coalition designed to reduce the population burden of cancer. SF CAN focuses on the city and county of San Francisco where cancer is the leading cause of death.
Its goals are to reduce the burden of five common cancers including breast, lung, prostate, colorectal and liver-all of which have proven methods of screening, detection and prevention and associated health disparities.
Ahimsa Sumchai Porter, MD, West Portal, Medical Director Golden State MD Health & Wellness is a longtime neighborhood and environmental activist
Oh, what a tangled web we weave!
Was Herrera’s “Investigation Probe” a cover up?
“The Ethics Commission was established by San Francisco voters with the passage of Proposition K on the November 1993 ballot. Ethics was designed to serve the public, City employees and officials, and local candidates through education and enforcement of governmental ethics laws, including public information. The Commission has virtually stopped serving citizens and now protects City politicians while collecting penalties and fines.” … George Wooding
If Donald Trump used the power of public office to bully a powerful city commission stacked with his appointees in a strategic effort to unseat an elected law enforcement official actively investigating political allies, former lovers and…himself. we would call for his impeachment. But in a city described as a “ dysfunctional government — or functional cartel “ we call it San Francisco Values!
PoliticoMD believes Mayor London Breed’s appointment of City Attorney Dennis Herrera to lead the scandal and corruption-ridden PUC is an impeachable act designed to vacate an office that issued 14 subpoenas in a sting by U.S Attorney David Anderson’s in a 75-page federal complaint detailing the “tangled web” of corruption that ensnared Breed, her former paramour Mohammed Nuru and billionaire permit expeditor Walter Wong.
“Corruption is pouring into San Francisco from around the world.” U.S. Attorney David Anderson at the January 28, 2020 Joint U.S. Attorney-FBI press conference announcing the federal complaint and arrest of Mohammed Nuru on public corruption charges.
According to investigative journalism conducted by Joe Rodriguez, Wong was accused of “flying Nuru to hotels and spas internationally to gain his help in pushing through a mixed-use development at 555 Fulton Street.”
On February 27, 2020, City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued 14 subpoenas targeting principles tied to 555 Fulton Street luxury condominiums and retail, referred to by the U.S. Department of Justice as the “Multimillion-Dollar Mixed-Use Development Scheme”. The Hayes Valley development project was plagued by delays that kept it in in limbo for years until London Breed’s election as D5 Supervisor in 2012. Formerly an industrial site, the San Francisco Chronicle reported as many as thirty buyers walked out on the project caused by changes in design in the midst of construction.
According to the San Francisco Progressive Media Center, as early as 2013, project contractor Walter Wong and District 5 Supervisor London Breed became embroiled in a debate over whether the cities formula retail ban could be modified to allow an affordable grocery store at the site. Breed expressed support for breaking the formula retail ban to allow for a chain grocery store on the ground floor of the 555 Fulton development project to make it more affordable for residents in three low-income housing projects nearby, a move that triggered fierce opposition from the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association.
Wong, best known as a “permit expeditor” expert at pushing development projects through the maze of the Department of Building Inspection permit process, reached a $1.7 million settlement with the City in May of 2021 after pleading guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering. Wong held enormous influence over DBI’s plan check and central permitting divisions.
The Elephant in the Room at 555 Fulton Street
London Breed’s name could be posted like a banner marquee atop the 555 Fulton Street luxury condos located less than a mile from Plaza East public housing where she spent her childhood and two blocks east of the African American Art & Cultural Center at 762 Fulton Street, where she served as executive director for over a decade. Standing at the 555 Fulton Street intersection one need only turn east to see the dome of San Francisco City Hall where Breed, as D5 Supervisor, shepherded the 555 Fulton Street development immediately upon her election to the board in 2012.
In the early 2000’s the old Christopher Dairy at 555 Fulton was identified as a location for a supermarket and mixed-use development. In 2012 the site was sold to a new developer, Fulton Street Ventures (FSV). That same year London Breed was elected District 5 Supervisor. In January 2013 FSV informed the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association they were seeking a “legislative amendment” that would exclude the project from the Hayes Valley formula retail ban. The HVNA Board of Directors unanimously opposed the amendment. D5 Supervisor Breed addressed the general meeting of the HVNA in July of 2013, stating that she did not plan to intervene to force the developer to consider the alternatives HVNA suggested. On January 14, 2014, the Board of Supervisors voted to approve D5 Supervisor London Breed’s legislation allowing a large grocery story to be built on 555 Fulton’s ground floor.
Fulton Street Ventures is the U.S. arm of China’s 10th largest developer — R&F properties. According to a 2014 report FSV affiliate R&F Properties holds $27.1 billion in assets.
“The fact that the mayor will be appointing someone to head the office that is investigating her administration raises obvious concerns.”
Dean Preston, District 5 Supervisor.
Breed has been identified as a potential target of the City Attorney’s investigation, and in a letter written by D5 Supervisor Dean Preston to City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Preston asks what plan is in place to protect the integrity of any pending public integrity investigation of the Administration when and if the Mayor appoints a successor City Attorney.
In San Francisco Ethics Commission https://sfethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2021.08.13-Agenda-Item-9-Proposed-Stipulation-in-the-Matter-of-London-Breed.pdf — Proposed stipulation, decision and order in the matter of London Breed, the San Francisco City Charter Section 15.03 is invoked in declaring public office… “a public trust and all officers and employees of the city and county shall exercise their public duties in a manner consistent with this trust.”
In the Mission Local article, Mayor London Breed’s $23K ethics fine is ratified and everyone comes out looking bad, Joe Eskenazi reports, “Ethics Commission staff refused to answer key questions, even to commissioners: Was the mayor interviewed? Did it obtain key receipts for Nuru gifts? What was the true source of illegal donations?”
George Wooding’s Prediction
As if peering into a crystal ball, George Wooding predicted in February 2020 “the Ethics Department’s byzantine rules, rule-parsing and snail-like pace, dictate a decision on Breed’s unethical behavior in about three years.”
PoliticoMD urges San Francisco Ethics Commission Director of Enforcement Jeff Pierce to keep the cash register on and running because the best is yet to come for Mayor London Breed.
Ahimsa Sumchai Porter, MD, West Portal, Medical Director Golden State MD Health & Wellness is a longtime neighborhood and environmental activist
Rod & Gun Site Gets a Makeover
SFPUC’s $88 Million Clean-up is Complete, What’s Next for Lake Merced?
“Lake Merced has drawn humans and wildlife to its shores for centuries, initially as a brackish lagoon and more recently as a coastal freshwater lake. It has endured many challenges, but today the heart shaped park in the southwest corner of the city breathes life into our metropolis as a significant natural habitat and recreation area.” Laura Thompson — Hoodline August 27, 2016
Shaped like a heart with four ventricles and arterial conduits created by man and nature, modern Lake Merced prevails as the largest wetland habitat and coastal freshwater lake between Marin and San Mateo counties. Lake Merced was the major supplier of drinking water to San Francisco beginning in the 1860s until Hetch Hetchy reservoir in the Sierras replaced it in 1934. Lake Merced serves as an emergency source of non-potable water for city residents.
;From 1934 through 1994 the Pacific Rod and Gun Club used lead pellets as shot which resulted in about 27 tons of lead in the lake per year. Lead pellets and targets containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have also been found in the upland areas.”
The Lake Merced West Project proposes construction of new recreational areas in the 11-acre region at 520 John Muir Drive, “serving park users of all ages, fitness levels and experience at this unique and natural waterfront setting.” Publicly accessible recreational elements include picnic areas, walking paths, a boathouse, ropes course, bird watching areas, multi-purpose sports courts, a playground, skateboard park and a community center with restrooms and a restaurant. San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department has taken the lead in issuing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Lake Merced West Project as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.
CEQA informs decision makers and the public of a project’s potential environmental effects, engages the public in the environmental review, discloses significant impacts generated by the project and offers mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate those impacts. The Lake Merced West Project EIR is expected to be released for public comment later this year.
The San Francisco Planning Department issued a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the proposed EIR in June of 2021 and a virtual community scoping meeting was held on June 23rd. The Lake Merced West project has historic and archeological impacts stemming from its eligibility for listing on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Watch the Video — A Day on the Lake: The historic Lake Merced West Region.
Adverse impacts of planned tree removal on natural habitats and ecological niches promises to incite environmental protectionists along with proposed demolition and construction along Lake Merced’s southwestern shoreline.
Suggestions from the scoping meeting include enhancing public transit access to Lake Merced West via an L train shuttle to reduce motor vehicle traffic. Muni transit lines #57 and #18 stop nearby.
The most significant project impacts, however, center on potential human health effects from activities of the former tenant. The Pacific Rod & Gun Club operated at 520 John Muir Drive from 1934- 2015. According to Jackie Suen — Rec & Parks Project Manager for Lake Merced West: “From 1934 through 1994 the Pacific Rod and Gun Club used lead pellets as shot which resulted in about 27 tons of lead in the lake per year. Lead pellets and targets containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have also been found in the upland areas.” (Lake Merced West Project EIR Scoping Meeting 06/23/21)
Watch the video -Lake Merced West Project Scoping Presentation.
In May of 2015 San Francisco Public Utilities Commission began a one-year remediation of the site, excavating 88 thousand tons of “contaminated” soil to depths ranging from one to 10 feet. The contaminated soil was hauled to a landfill and backfilled with clean soil at a cost of $22 million dollars. The Regional Water Quality Control Board released the property for unrestricted use.
In 2017 the Pacific Rod & Gun Club “forked over” $8.25 million to settle a court battle with the City of San Francisco, accepting its role as the principal “discharger” in the region.
In 2016 Rec & Parks issued a request for proposals for a 20-year lease of Lake Merced West that “ prohibits recreational activities resulting in direct deposit of any waste, hazardous material or foreign substance at the site.”
SFPD Firearms Training — Lake Merced Range November 5, 2012
The San Francisco Police Department, however, conducts firearms trainings from 7pm to 11pm at nearby 700 John Muir Drive generating peak noise disturbances above 160 decibels — toping the list of undesirable impacts to romantic restaurant diners!
“At the end of the last ice age 15,000 years ago, the ocean flooded Merced Valley creating a small inlet or bay. At that time Lake Merced extended further east and was open to the ocean.” … Vivian Matuk and Nick Salcedo — Geography Students SFSU
Watch Video — A Day on the Lake: Entering Lake Merced Watershed
A watershed is an area of land with rivers and streams draining into a larger body of water. Lake Merced is a watershed. Healthy watersheds provide clean drinking water, fisheries and outdoor recreation areas that support our environment, economies and quality of life through water capture, water storage and water release.
Lake Merced’s role as San Francisco’s water source changed as surrounding neighborhoods became more developed and surface runoff to the lake became more polluted. The southern portions of the original watershed were diverted from flowing into the lake. According to SFSU graduate researchers water quality in Lake Merced suffers from turbidity, alkalinity and high phosphorus and organic content.
Described as “an island of wildlife habitat in an ocean of urban environment” by SFSU geographer Elizabeth Proctor whose graduate thesis details the dwindling diversity of Lake Merced’s mammal, reptile and amphibian species over time due to water pollution and human disturbances… including shooting ranges and golf balls!
Ahimsa Sumchai Porter, MD, West Portal, Medical Director Golden State MD Health & Wellness is a longtime neighborhood and environmental activist
Why Are Five Republican States Afraid of Critical Race Theory?
Why Critical Race Theory should be taught-in Biology!
“Critical Race Theory recognizes racism is not a bygone relic of the past”
A Lesson on Critical Race Theory -American Bar Association
L et’s talk about race -although there is mounting evidence it does not exist. That’s why race is so uncomfortable to talk about. Race is an imaginary construct that has been delegitimized by modern science yet continues to fuel wanton fear, violence and disharmony among members of the human family. Critical Race Theory recognizes racism is not a bygone relic of the past according to the American Bar Association (ABA).
You may, or may not be familiar with Critical Race Theory or CRT. Some may not care about CRT and have no idea why the Florida Board of Education banned teaching it in schools in May. You may not know five Republican-led state legislatures banned critical race theory according to the Washington Post. Critical Race Theory, in my opinion, when accepted, will have more profound impacts on the advancement of humanity than the acceptance that UFO’s exist. The firestorm of backlash to its teaching in American schools most resembles the fierce obstruction to key advancements in science that humanity has witnessed throughout our collective history. The American Bar Association offers a Lesson on Critical Race Theory
Critical Race Theory, in my opinion, represents a continuum of the rancorous social debate over human evolution that has been substantiated by genetic research and weaponized by politics, sociology and racial injustice. Critical Race Theory is grounded in the science of the human genome that does not prove the existence of race!
(It) has become one of the most animating issues for Republicans nationwide, believing it teaches kids to &lquo;hate the US and each other.The Florida guidelines apply to teaching U.S history, civics and government.”
The Human Genome Project arrived at an astonishing conclusion:
“Race is a fluid concept used to group people according to various factors including ancestral backgrounds and social identity. Race is also used to group people that share a set of visible characteristics, such as skin color and facial features. Though these visible traits are influenced by genes, the vast majority of genetic variation exists within racial groups and not between them. Race is an ideology and for this reason, many scientists believe that race should be more accurately described as a social construct and not a biological one.”
Get that? The human genetic code is basically the same for all members of the human family. We are hardwired to be similar, not different!
In a ‘Lesson on Critical Race Theory,’ the American Bar Association defines CRT as “a practice of integrating the role of race and racism in society that emerged in the legal and academic fields and spread to other fields of scholarship.”
The ABA analysis examines why CRT has become a “firehose” of legal, sociological, educational, political and human rights debate in critiquing how race, as a social construct perpetuates a caste system grounded in skin color and physical variations that relegates people of color to the bottom tiers.
Business Insider reports CRT has become one of the most animating issues for Republicans nationwide, grounded in the belief that CRT teaches kids to “hate the US and each other.” The Florida guidelines apply to teaching U.S history, civics and government.
To the best of my knowledge there has been no mounted dissent to applying Critical Race Theory to the field where it is most substantiated by genetic science-human biology!
In Where are We? Critical Race Theory in Education 20 Years Later, Adrienne Dixson and Celia Anderson explore the foundation of the trailblazing work launched by the 1995 publication of Toward A Critical Race Theory in Education.
Dixson and Anderson organize their review of CRT literature around six boundaries for CRT and education:
- CRT in education argues that racial inequity in education is the logical outcome of a system of achievement precedented on competition.
- CRT in education examines the role of education policy and practices in the construction of racial inequity and perpetuation of normative whiteness.
- CRT in education rejects the dominant narrative about the inherent inferiority of people of color and normative superiority of white people.
- CRT in educations rejects historical linkages between educational inequity and racial oppression.
- CRT in education engages intersectional analyses that recognize ways that race is mediated by other identity markers (gender, class, language and citizenship).
- CRT in education agitates and advocates for meaningful outcomes that redress racial inequity.
According to Education Week, as of May 2021, 15 states have introduced legislation to restrict how teachers can talk about race.
Teachers in Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma and Tennessee are banned from introducing concepts that one race or sex is inherently superior or that any individual is racist just because of their race and that no-one should be made to feel guilt or discomfort because of their race.
Critical Race Theory is a methodology, not an ideology. CRT is a work in progress in education with a mandate to improve educational access and equity and to create critical race research studies that are “theoretically grounded and methodologically sound.”
Critical Race Theory as a bridge in science training: California State University, Northridge Build PODER Program — an undergraduate biomedical research training program based on a transformative framework rooted in CRT.
Critical Race Theory and the Health Sciences
Thought leaders in science, medicine and the allied health sciences are taking a more proactive approach in acknowledging that race is “conceptually underdeveloped in the health sciences and operates in these fields as nineteenth-century theories of human diversity that reify long discredited notions of racial typologies.
“Within medicine and the health sciences, race is widely understood as a “natural” part of human diversity that scientists and physicians merely observe. These fields assume that the visual distinctions that align with social understandings of race reflect real and meaningful biological dispositions.
“Tied to this is the assumption that these racialized genetic and physiological dispositions explain why certain racial groups may be sicker — or healthier- than others. From this standpoint, racism is thought to be an external social or political variable that has little to do with the processes that shape health outcomes or influence the measurement of human differences.
“This perspective is not only woefully inadequate, but also affirmatively harms human health by perpetuating theories of biological race in the clinic, the lab and within our collective imaginations … Critical Race Theory offers science and medicine opportunity to examine how the biological consequences of discrimination shape our approaches to thinking about human difference and population disparities.” Introduction: Critical Race Theory and the Health Sciences — Cambridge University Press January 6, 2021
Port Cities as Hubs of Diversity and Inclusivity
“ Port cities are a particular type of territory and are long standing examples of resilience, bringing opportunities, wealth, and innovation to their nations and citizens. They have developed at the crossroads of international trade and commerce and the intersection of sea and land.”
I was fascinated by the human diversity I encountered in seaport cities like London, Frankfurt, Washington, DC, Nairobi and Ethiopia after traveling from San Francisco to participate in the international humanitarian relief effort in the Horn of Africa.
Some sociologists predict the intermingling of travelers bearing global passports that grant entry to the seaport cities of the world may ultimately produce the multiethnic human.
In the interim I have adopted the practice of checking off both African American and “Other” on forms and applications requiring racial designations. In honor of my Louisiana Choctaw maternal grandfather, my Korean cousins and my paternal grandfather who passed for white…in the near future, perhaps the “Others” will emerge as the one true “race”!
Ahimsa Sumchai Porter, MD, West Portal, Medical Director Golden State MD Health & Wellness is a longtime neighborhood and environmental activist To Mask Or Not To Mask — On the Streets of San Francisco!
“We are not defenseless against COVID-19. Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”CDC calls on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 Spread July 14, 2020
San Francisco is a very small city — but a very important town! In general a human settlement with more than 2,500 residents is considered a city while a town is defined as a populated area with fixed boundaries and a local government with limited power.
San Francisco can be colorfully described as a health and fitness “cult” with 769,000 immunization eligible members over the age of 16. A progressive “village” that in 2014, launched the San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership, a citywide initiative designed to improve the health and wellness of all San Franciscans.
The SFHIP strategic plan identifies key performance measures that include:
- Safe and healthy living environments
- Healthy eating and physical activity
- Access to quality health care and medical services
- Redressing African American health disparities
- Targeting maternal, infant, child and adolescent health measures
- Prioritizing health needs of those at risk of HIV disease
According to the UCSF Center for Community Engagement, these population health measures — when tracked and improved — create healthy communities where we can “live, learn, work and play.” In 2016, San Francisco ranked highest for access to exercise opportunities and lowest for smoking and obesity when compared with state averages. San Francisco ranked among the healthiest counties in California — well before the COVID-19 pandemic and the current “city family!”
As a health and wellness expert, I believe San Francisco County’s high pre-pandemic health rankings offer the best explanation for the cities low COVID — 19 prevalence.
An April 2020 UC Berkeley analysis by zip code showed the bulk of detected cases were concentrated in the cities Southeast quadrant with an overall case rate of 15 per 100,000 people. Researchers at UrbanFootprint independently mapped the city and identified low-income regions lacking access to grocery stores and automobiles to be most vulnerable.
Seventy-five percent of San Francisco residents live within 15 minutes of a fresh food grocery store. This fact alone is evidence that social determinants of health play a determinate role in why COVID -19 prevalence remains low and may be even more influential than early actions city leaders credit themselves for. Capitalizing politically on the relative ease of managing a population of 769,000 healthy people serves to bolster political careers for some.
A clear example is the May 11, 2021 twitter posting by Mayor London Breed applauding San Francisco’s 75% vaccination rate. This statistic deserves careful scrutiny … The reality is that of the 769,000 vaccine eligible San Francisco residents only 56% are fully vaccinated — a number slightly higher than the state average as reported by the LA Times “
A clear example is the May 11, 2021 twitter posting by Mayor London Breed applauding San Francisco’s 75% vaccination rate. This statistic deserves careful scrutiny, given the consternation generated by the May 13, 2021 announcement by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that “fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
The reality is that of the 769,000 vaccine eligible San Francisco residents only 56% are fully vaccinated — a number slightly higher than the state average as reported by the LA Times. The glass is half full — only 434,000 San Francisco residents are ready to shed their masks and it’s too soon to toast and celebrate on the streets of San Francisco!
According to the New York Times article, Why the C.D.C. Changed Its Advice on Masks, the May 13, 2021 announcement that fully vaccinated Americans can go maskless in outdoor and indoor settings came as a surprise to both the public and to scientific experts and government officials. “Even the White House got less than a day’s notice,” press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed in a news briefing that Friday.
“The CDC, the doctors and medical experts are the ones who determined what this guidance would be based on their own data, and what the timeline would be … it was not a decision, directed or made by the White House.”
And that’s the way it should work in an independent federal health agency. Perhaps the CDC is flexing muscle and asserting its independence from the subjugating tyranny of the Trump administration — or perhaps it’s just deja vu all over again!
Recall that in mid-May 2020 CDC was gagged silent about the benefits of wearing masks. It wasn’t until July 14, 2020 that the CDC issued a press release urging the public to wear masks to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 with the cheery message “Americans are increasingly adopting the use of cloth face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, and the latest science may convince even more to do so.”
The best explanation for the guidelines issued by Director Rochelle Walensky MD, MPH is new research that shows while vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing COVID-19, few fully vaccinated people develop or transmit serious infections.
You can observe a lot by watching and there ain’t no herd immunity in Major League Baseball!
Breakthrough COVID — 19 infections in fully vaccinated MLB players shut down a Miami Marlins Florida training facility in April and a cluster of nine New York Yankees players and staff tested positive in May despite being one of 12 MLB teams to reach the 85% vaccination mark. The Yankees all received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and most had no symptoms. The San Francisco Giants have reached the 85% vaccination rate and will go maskless in the dugout. Research shows the vaccines are effective against the range of variants. A surge in demand for vaccinations followed the CDC announcement serving to advance the debate surrounding the safety of immunizing children.
Governor Gavin Newsom is facing a recall challenge from critics demanding he set Californians free from masks. Newsom and state health officials were gagged silent the weekend following the CDC proclamation.
California Department of Public Health’s current mask guidance issued on May 3rd allows fully vaccinated people to shed their masks in outdoor settings except densely crowded events like concerts and festivals.
Newsom addressed the “complexities surrounding enforcement and lack thereof” and anticipates lifting the outdoor mask mandate with a full reopening of the state economy by June 15, 2021.
The CDC announcement drew immediate rebuke from the California Nurses Association, who pressured state health officials to reject the CDC guidelines. CNA President Zenei Triunto — Cortez called it a “big blow to the safety of nurses, front line workers and patients.”
The CDC proclamation amplifies smoldering concerns about civil liberty violations and the inevitable requirement for vaccine passports for travel, school entry and occupational safety, along with infringements on medical privacy laws.
Worse yet, it may unleash an environmental nightmare with the mass disposal of contaminated face masks, synthetic gloves and chemically treated personal protective equipment into our oceans, landfills and on the streets of San Francisco!
“ It ain’t over ’til it’s over” — Yogi Berra
Environmental Justice for Lake Merced
The Westside’s Hidden Toxic Hazards
“Our Nation has an abiding commitment to empower our workers and communities; promote and protect our public health and the environment … Where the Federal Government has failed to meet that commitment in the past, it must advance environmental justice.”
Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis — January 20, 2021 | Presidential Actions
Environmental justice is defined by the EPA as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color national origin or income in the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.” Fair treatment means no one group of people should bear a disproportionate share of negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal and commercial operations.”
Underserved communities are neighborhoods faced with environmental health hazards and vulnerable populations that include children, people of color, low income, tribal, disabled and homeless populations.
I also view as vulnerable thousands of students attending schools in San Francisco’s western neighborhoods.
Many Westside Observer readers are aware of the environmental health issues residents of heavily industrialized southeast San Francisco face but may not recognize the environmental hazards present in seemingly pristine regions west of Twin Peaks.”
Many Westside Observer readers are aware of the environmental health issues residents of heavily industrialized southeast San Francisco face but may not recognize the environmental hazards present in seemingly pristine regions west of Twin Peaks.
The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program is applying an advanced environmental mapping and screening tool to augment interpretation of human biomonitoring urinary toxicology screenings and geospatial mapping in identification of hazards residents and workers at a federal Superfund site face. That tool is called the EPA EJScreen.
It would be discriminatory for an environmental analyst to exclude a neighborhood under the assumption it is not impacted by hazards like air pollution, lead paint exposure or proximity to hazardous waste sites. Especially if that neighborhood is where the analyst lives, attended college and medical school!
San Francisco’s heavily trafficked westside neighborhoods are criss-crossed by major highways and roadways subject to high levels of diesel pollution and particulate emissions. Fine particulate matter air pollutants were linked to 1 in 5 deaths worldwide according to research released by Harvard University in 2021.
Lake Merced Boulevard was constructed during the Great Depression under the federal Works Progress Administration. Its creation supported the State plan to connect main highways through broad intersecting arteries from Sunset Boulevard around Lake Merced to Skyline, Junipero Serra Boulevard and Highway 101.
The EPA’s environmental justice screening and mapping tool is based on national data that combines environmental and demographic indicators to assign an EJ index for risk factors of exposure combined with six key social factors that include percent low income, percent people of color and children under the age of five.
The eleven environmental factors include particulate matter, diesel particulate matter, air toxics cancer risk, respiratory hazard index, traffic proximity, lead paint and hazardous waste proximity.
The EJSCREEN Tool offers a creative approach to understanding health impact of environmental exposures and can be used by a school aged child to map their neighborhood. The YouTube video How to Interpret an EJSCREEN Standard Report is also available.
EJSCREEN Standard Report for the one-mile ring at Lake Merced Boulevard near Parkmerced. Note the EJ index for traffic proximity and volume, lead paint, hazardous waste proximity and wastewater discharge are greater than the risks 73 to 82% of Americans face.
Using the EPA EJSCREEN mapping tool, we can easily analyze the negative environmental impacts residents of San Francisco’s westside neighborhoods face for lead paint exposure. The areas in red representing westside neighborhoods where the risk of exposure to lead paint approaches the 100th percentile compared to the population of residents living in the US. This 100th percentile range simply means the lead paint exposure risk is greater for westside residents living in regions colored red than 100% of people in the country!
The EJScreen mapping of San Francisco’s westside neighborhood for lead paint exposure risk. Simply type in the region in the upper right hand search bar and select one or all eleven environmental indicators to map.
Now let’s examine another important environmental risk factor westside residents face every day, traffic volume and proximity. The seven miles of city blocks between 19th Avenue and Park Presidio represent the crosstown route of State Highway 1, and it has been historically recognized as a notorious danger zone for pedestrians.
Little focus, however, has been generated on the risk of exposure to diesel and fine particle emissions from vehicles stalled in traffic along major arteries coursing through westside neighborhoods.
EJScreen mapping identifies Lake Merced Boulevard to be in the 95th to 100th percentile compared with the US population for traffic volume and proximity. Of greater impact on the environmental health of small children are EJScreen mappings of diesel particulate exposure. In the Lake Merced Boulevard region exposure risks to one of the most dangerous air contaminants approaches the 100th percentile!
Diesel exhaust contains a mixture of gases and small particles of soot made of carbon, ash, sulfates, silicates and heavy metals along with carbon compounds known as aromatic hydrocarbons. The California Air Resources Board identifies diesel particulate matter as containing 40 cancer causing substances. Diesel engine emissions are believed to be responsible for 70% of the states estimated cancer risk from toxic air contaminants. Most heavy and medium duty trucks are equipped with diesel engines as are school buses and heavy equipment such as bulldozers and tractors.
Additional environmental hazards are posed by rising sea levels along western shorelines. A recently published report proposes strategies to enhance the resilience of San Francisco wetlands.
On October 5, 2020 the Commonwealth Club of California and the Climate Reality Project Bay Area Chapter presented Climate Justice: Radioactive and Toxic Waste and Rising Oceans. I was a speaker at that panel event and invite you to view it on YouTube.
On April 17, 2021 I was awarded the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine Medical Alumni of the Year Award for the pioneering work being conducted by the Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program and Golden State MD Health & Wellness. My profile is posted to the Medical Alumni Association website.
Is BIG DOORBELL Watching Us?
Motion Sensing Floodlight Cameras-Security, Surveillance and High Tech Stalking
Ring cameras are turning neighborhoods into surveillance networks -Glenn Harvey NBC News
The new frontier of privacy war is being waged around the complex legal and regulatory issues stemming from the “terrifically addictive and widely engaging hodgepodge of voyeurism, suspicion and unease” generated by the rising use of motion activated floodlight cameras and neighborhood security apps. Amazon touts its $1.2 billion dollar investment in Ring camera technology as the “Evolution of Outdoor Security.”
The ultra-bright LED floodlights are activated by motion detected within customizable zones with a 270-degree field of view allowing the user to detect motion around corners and in blind spots. The high-resolution camera can be coupled with a siren alarm and two-way audio allowing the user to speak with anyone…from anywhere!
Combined with the Ring app, the user can flash lights, sound the alarm and zoom-in to focus on areas under surveillance. Additionally, the floodlight cam sends instant alerts to a smartphone or computer. The system costs up to $350.00 and is difficult to install. The Ring disclaimer identifies the device as a security… not a surveillance camera.
“Neighbors” is the Ring app that allows users to share video feeds and receive dynamic updates from connected neighborhood watch apps like Citizen that operates in San Francisco receiving updates from 911 calls.
Max Read describes the “hyper-awareness” he experienced after installing a Ring security camera as “terrifically addictive, a wildly engaging hodgepodge of voyeurism, suspicion and unease.”
A recently divorced man moved into a town home next door to mine during the Spring 2020 COVID 19 shutdown and, over the next six months, exhibited conduct that escalated to include trespassing, stalking and harassment.
By October of 2020, I had been swept into a whirlpool of controversy and aggravation after the “nuisance neighbor” installed a motion sensing floodlight cam directed towards my patio door to facilitate his 21st century high tech stalking.
I get it! Sociological research on interpersonal attraction has determined propinquity — or nearness — to be a driving force in the formation of relationships between people. The propinquity effect describes the simple fact that nearness — in an office, organization or neighborhood — fuels the tendency for people to form friendships or romantic relationships with people they encounter most.
Despite having accrued an archive of documentation submitted to the landlord and SFPD, during the dark winter months of 2020, the “nuisance neighbor” installed a Ring Motion Sensing floodlight camera on property — he is not the owner of — to monitor my early morning activities. The high beam floodlight activated within six feet of my patio door fulfilling legal criteria for “light trespassing” and privacy violations as captured by the following Youtube videos: VideoOne, Video Two.
Some would argue a professional woman in her sixties should be flattered by 24 hours of unrelenting attention from a man half her age, but this intolerable situation has been scheduled for Arbitration by the San Francisco Residential Rent Board.
…the “nuisance neighbor” installed a Ring Motion Sensing floodlight camera on property — he is not the owner of — to monitor my early morning activities. The high beam floodlight activated within six feet of my patio door fulfilling legal criteria for “light trespassing” and privacy violations …”
Having researched the legality of a neighbor spying on me, I have a better understanding of issues the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls “A Perfect Storm of Privacy Threats.” Ring security cameras and neighborhood watch apps have the capacity to turn a quiet neighborhood into a digital network of anxiety, fear and paranoia.
According to FBI annual crime statistics, violent crime and property crime have steadily declined since 2017. San Francisco crime data showed a steep decline in most crime categories in 2020 except vehicle thefts, burglary and arson.
Vendors of high-tech home security use marketing schemes that rely on convincing homeowners their property is threatened by crime and that Ring cameras prevent it. Ring cameras send notifications to the users phone each time the doorbell rings or motion is detected, transforming the delivery man, an urban raccoon or low flying pigeon into a potential criminal. Additionally, they facilitate the reporting of “suspicious behavior” and the promulgation of high-tech racial profiling.
Recent evidence suggests Ring security cameras distort how much actual crime is taking place in a neighborhood and may not help police solve major crimes at all. An NBC investigation found that since 2018, Ring has “partnered” with 800 law enforcement agencies offering them access to video footage recorded by millions of customers. Interviews with 40 law enforcement agencies in eight states that partnered with Ring found no hard evidence supporting Ring’s claim it’s cameras make neighborhoods safer by deterring and solving crime. Indeed, in 13 of 40 jurisdictions no arrests were made as a result of Ring footage.
According to the Washington Post, Ring partnered with law enforcement agencies to create the Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal. This portal allows local police
to map the approximate location of all Ring cameras in a neighborhood and request footage from camera owners. Police do not need a warrant to access footage. On March 17, 2016, Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff emailed a company-wide declaration of war on “Dirtbag Criminals.” “We are going to war with anyone who wants to harm a neighborhood.”
Sam Biddle writes in The Intercept, “Ring’s internal documents and video demonstrate why this marriage of private tech corporations with public law enforcement has troubling privacy implications.” The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project is a nonprofit that fights excessive local and state level surveillance. It finds a “deafening lack of evidence any city has been made safer” by the use of Ring camera networks.
The lack of evidence that Ring cameras deter or solve crime amplifies “Big Brother” privacy concerns generated by Ring’s plan to incorporate facial recognition and biometric analysis into its camera lines to identify “suspicious” faces.
In a February 1, 2021 press release, EFF obtained emails that show LAPD sent requests to Amazon for Ring camera video of Black Lives Matter protesters and refused to disclose what crime was being investigated and how many hours of footage had been requested.
Ronda Kaysan writes in the New York Times about “grainy footage” from her neighbors security cameras uploaded in 30 second loops to the Ring Neighbors app and explains you don’t even have to own a Ring camera to join Neighbors and click on a video map within a five mile radius of your home for “fish-eye” views of feral cats, skateboarders and maintenance workers.
As long as security cams don’t infringe on personal privacy and the footage is used for lawful purposes such as prevention of package theft or vandalism, it is legal for a private property owner to install security cams in plain view and visible from the street.
The Connecticut Office of Legislative Research issued a Report on the Use of Surveillance Cameras in Residential Areas. The Connecticut statue CGS&53a-189a, best defines voyeurism as “a person is guilty of voyeurism who, with malice, knowingly photographs, films, videotapes or otherwise records the image of another person without that person’s consent, while that person is not in plain view and has a reasonable expectation of privacy. California lags behind on these basic privacy matters.
The use of motion sensing floodlight cameras in apartment units, condominiums and congregate living settings is clearly unlawful when installed by a tenant for the surveillance of another tenant! Landlords cannot use cameras to track a tenant’s personal life. Pointing cameras at a tenant’s private space can be a breach of a tenants quiet enjoyment, or harassment.
Landlords can justify placing cameras in common areas out of duty to provide a safe environment. Everything you need to know about Apartment Security Camera Laws highlights the fundamental security camera issues as placement and location. In most states it is illegal to install surveillance cameras anywhere people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Tenants should obtain permission to install security cameras from the landlord codified into residential lease agreements.
Neighborhood security apps can trigger “wild paranoia” about perceived crimes and threats but the measurable security they provide is negligible. A Hermosa Beach woman called the police begging for help after checking her Ring camera that appeared to detect a “stranger” walking through her front door. The police dispatcher asked her to check the timestamp on the video. It revealed the intruder had entered her home an hour earlier. The “stranger” in the security footage was HER and she had called the police on HERSELF!
What I have been able to glean from existing research about the legality of the growing use of home security devices like the Ring motion sensing floodlight camera, is that they are legally permitted for outdoor use by private property owners on their private property.
SpyGuy.com asks the question, is it legal for neighbors to point security cameras toward your property to spy on you? “The short answer is yes … if your neighbor is the property owner. Both of you are entitled to protect your private property with security cameras to thwart and deter burglars, vandals and package thieves.
Security cameras can be placed by a property owner facing public areas including your yard, driveway or front door because you have no reasonable expectation of privacy there. Security cameras facing your bedroom, bathroom or lounge where you may be captured undressing or engaged in intimate acts are illegal.
Jamming, disrupting or damaging a neighbor’s surveillance camera is fraught with risk and may legally constitute malicious destruction of property. SpyGuy.com recommends communicating with the owner of a surveillance camera you believe may be invading your personal privacy.
Should that fail, seek third party mediators and contact police and a privacy law attorney. In San Francisco resources include the local BAR association referral line, the Residential Rent Board, the San Francisco Tenants Union and Legal Assistance for the Elderly.
A simple, elegant and ecological solution is to block the view of a surveillance camera you believe is invading your privacy with beautiful trees and shrubs. Tenants have a reasonable expectation of privacy and it is illegal to install surveillance cameras inside apartment complexes. Ring video surveillance systems include two-way audio and under Federal wiretapping laws it is illegal to record someone without their consent.
Washington Post Technology columnist Geoffrey Fowler concludes in The Doorbells Have Eyes: The privacy battle brewing over home security cameras:
“We should recognize this pattern: Tech that seems like an obvious good can develop darker dimensions as capabilities improve and data shifts into new hands. A terms-of-service upgrade or a hack could turn your doorbell into a privacy invasion you did not see coming. “Ahimsa Sumchai Porter, MD, West Portal, Medical Director Golden State MD Health & Wellness is a longtime neighborhood and environmental activist
City’s Toxic Shipyard Development Is Killing Us
In 1962 my grandparents quietly integrated a Mount Davidson neighborhood. “Mamma Roberta” was a petite model and fashion coordinator for a major downtown department store. My grandfather, George, gained a solid financial foothold by wisely investing his hard-earned salary as an ILWU walking boss, into residential real estate. Their three-story home on Teresita Boulevard was as impeccable as a museum and, during a period of adolescent turmoil, I went to live with them. I became beneficiary to quality education at San Francisco State and on the “shiny hill” of the UCSF School of Medicine Parnassus campus.
Those familiar with my twenty-seven-year advocacy for environmental health and justice in Bayview Hunters Point are surprised to learn that, while I grew up in public housing on the City’s east side, I am a “child of privilege” of San Francisco’s westside neighborhoods and institutes of higher learning. In the words of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair…it’s had tacks in it, and splinters, and places with no carpets on the floor — bare.”
As early as 1946, the Atomic Energy Commission allowed NRDL researchers of the post-World War II era to pour radioactive waste into laboratory drains at the shipyard, dump radiation contaminated materials and animal carcasses into the industrial landfill on the shipyards shoreline and burn radioactive fuel into the air from Operations Crossroads ships hauled back following atomic explosions conducted in the South Pacific in shipyard power plants.”
I was a Stanford Fellowship trained Board Certified emergency physician on staff with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and San Francisco Giants MLB, on the morning of February 19, 1992 when I discovered my father, George Donald Porter, in bed at the family home — dead at age 58. My Dad retired early due to medical disability following a proud and lucrative career as an ILWU shipping clerk and walking boss. Like many African American men of the 1950’s era, he was assigned to the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
As physician of record on his death certificate, I requested my fathers’ medical record and was amazed to discover his chest X-ray findings of pulmonary asbestosis. A wrongful death class action civil suit quickly settled that benefitted other exposed shipyard workers.
In January of 2019, the Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program launched as the nations first human biomonitoring program dedicated to providing easy, low cost, reliable urinary toxicology screenings to residents and workers at a federal Superfund site. I serve as Medical Director and Principal Investigator for “HP Biomonitoring” and, from a westside/eastside bicoastal perspective I appeal to you now.
Biomonitoring measures pollution in people using state of the art biomedical technology capable of detecting 35 toxic and nutrient “ biomarkers “ using mass spectrometry.
Funded by the Packard Foundation and licensed by the Medical Board of California, HP Biomonitoring is detecting chemical and radioactive “biomarkers” of toxic environmental exposure. The elements detected correspond exactly with those documented to be present in shipyard soils and landfills.
By combining the findings of urinary screenings with EPA approved geospatial mappings, HP Biomonitoring has identified a cluster of screenings in which multiple radioactive biomarkers are detected in toxic concentrations in residents living along the shipyard’s historic main entry on 3rd and Palou traveling southeast along the radiation contaminated shoreline — site of the United States Naval Radiological Defense Laboratories (NRDL) from 1946 to 1969. The HP Biomonitoring “ROC” cluster includes 15 UCSF workers who occupy Building 830 at 75 Crisp Avenue on the radiation contaminated shoreline and a shipyard artist. Elements detected include uranium, cesium, thallium, strontium, vanadium, gadolinium, rubidium and the gamma emitter manganese. Manganese has a 100% detection frequency in shipyard soils and has been detected in 100% of urinary screenings conducted on residents and workers within the shipyards one-mile perimeter. The California Biomonitoring Program has detected manganese in only 19% of its urinary screenings.
HP Biomonitoring is the first human biomonitoring program to detect an “aggregate” of multiple radioactive elements in multiple screenings and, on January 27, 2021, will receive the coveted KPIX/CBS Jefferson Award.
But how does it get in their urine you ask? As early as 1946, the Atomic Energy Commission allowed NRDL researchers of the post-World War II era to pour radioactive waste into laboratory drains at the shipyard, dump radiation contaminated materials and animal carcasses into the industrial landfill on the shipyards shoreline and burn radioactive fuel into the air from Operations Crossroads ships hauled back following atomic explosions conducted in the South Pacific in shipyard power plants.
“A federal Superfund site is, by definition, a property where the EPA used a Hazard Ranking System to calculate a score based on actual or potential release of hazardous substances curing harm to human health. On a scale of 1 to 100, a score of 28.5 or more places a property on the National Priorities List. The Hunters Point Shipyard has a Hazard Ranking Score of 80 overall and 100 for groundwater migration, corresponding to an 80 to 100% risk the “toxic stew” documented to be present at the shipyard will contact sensitive receptors via airborne, dermal, waterborne or ingestible routes. Thus, by legal definition and government classification, the Hunters Point Shipyard is a harmful property and negative health effects seen in residents and workers on and adjacent to it, under the Precautionary Principle, must be presumed causal.” Source
The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard is the second most contaminated property on the National Priorities List. The shipyard is so contaminated it has spawned EPA designation of three federal Superfund sites including the 600-acre naval base, the Parcel E-2 industrial landfill and nearby Yosemite Slough. It is a federal Superfund System!
“Hunters Point is unfolding into the biggest case of eco-fraud in U.S. History.” Jeff Ruch — Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility 04/09/2018
Whistle blower complaints and the damaging findings of Tetra Techs’ own internal investigation of 2,500 anomalous soil samples fueled the EPA investigation conclusion that up to 97% of radioactive soil samples collected throughout the base had been improperly processed or falsified. Navy computers, which first detected the contractor fraud, determined there was a four year window of opportunity between 2008 and 2012 for resident and worker exposure to falsely cleared radiation contaminated shipyard soils. A letter sent by Tomas Aragon, MD — San Francisco’s Chief Health Officer, to Mayor London Breed in March of 2019 documented a 31% increase in lung cancer in men living in the 94124 zip code — weakly attributed to smoking!
The Hunters Point Shipyard covers an area of over 600 acres in Southeast San Francisco. It sits on a bed of serpentinite rock rich in asbestos and heavy metals that match what the Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program is detecting, along with radioactive elements, in urinary toxicology screens conducted on residents and workers within its one-mile perimeter. Between 2006 and 2007, over 2 million tons of serpentinite rock was graded from the Hunters Point hilltop for an ambitious mixed use housing development project that created Lennar Corporations neighborhood on Parcel A-1. In 2006, BAAQMD fined Lennar $587,000 for failing to monitor toxic dust emissions following multiple notices of violation issued during the grading of the Parcel A-1 hilltop. Asbestos concentrations as high as 138,000 fibers per cubic centimeter were detected in 2008.
On May 27, 2020, a Resolution in Support of the Community Harmed by Toxic Substances and Radiation was adopted by the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee. Introduced by D10 resident Gloria Berry, the resolution was sponsored by Chair David Campos and 12 elected members. It was adopted that “The San Francisco DCCC urges the City of San Francisco, the State of California, the US Navy and the federal Government to halt all construction and further resolves that reparations be paid to the residents of Bayview Hunters Point in the form of healthcare to include toxic testing and personal injury compensation in order to begin repairing the damage caused by years of exposure to radioactive waste and environmental injustice.”
In June of 2020, by executive order of Mayor London Breed, earthmoving and excavation began at the fence line separating Hunters Point hilltop residents, schools and recreational centers from Parcel A-2 at the boundary with the most radiation contaminated regions of the base, despite “clear and present dangers” posed by the trifecta of a raging pandemic and high ambient air pollution amplified by the worst wildfire season in California history! A BAAQMD dust complaint with video evidence was filed by hilltop resid ents. A Proposition 65 violation was filed with Attorney General Xavier Becerra by Attorneys representing the nine thousand plaintiff Hunters Point Community Lawsuit.
The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program believes the finding of multiple chemical and radioactive soil elements in multiple screenings conducted on Hunters Point residents and workers is best explained by airborne transmission of toxic dust generated by corrupt on-going development activities on a contaminated property that is the site of extensive soil fraud.
On January 7, 2021 The Bay Area Air Quality Management District requested opportunity to review the findings of the Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program that include screenings that include multiple radioactive elements detected in a Hunters Point resident who has lived a quarter of a mile from the shipyard’s main entry and has undergone surgery for breast cancer and multiple brain tumors — the editor of the Bayview newspaper — who publicly revealed she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and has elevated levels of cesium, thallium and strontium in her urinary screening. A professional woman who grew up in and near the shipyard, she underwent radiation therapy for a brainstem glioma known to be induced by exposure to heavy metals. Urinary screening detected multiple heavy metals. 15 UCSF workers in Building 830 — located within feet of the shipyard’s radiation contaminated shoreline and industrial landfill — were voluntarily screened. Arsenic was detected in concentrations five times higher than toxic and uranium was detected in concentrations 17 times higher than allowable levels.
The Biden/Harris administrations’ appointment of Michael Regan to lead the EPA and proposal to create a division in the Department of Justice with a mandate to pursue environmental justice violations brings sunlight and fresh air to communities like Bayview Hunters Point. The new administration updated Executive Order 12898 on Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. Https:// www.archives.gov/files/federal-register/executive- orders/pdf/12898.pdf
While elected officials at the highest levels of government have been incriminated in the political bulldozer driving the shipyards redevelopment despite mounting medical legal evidence of “collateral damage” to the Hunters Point fence line community, the “Elephant in the Room” at the Hunters Point Shipyard remains former Mayor Willie Brown!
I walk my dogs along Lake Merced and operate medical, fitness and nutrition practices from West Portal Avenue.
S.F. shipyard developer brings in government consultant team featuring Willie Brown San Francisco Busness Journal
Chairman Willie: Willie Brown’s Not-So-Secret Connection to the Hunters Point Project SF Weekly
Firm tied to Willie Brown gets political boost for Hunters Point Reveal News
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Ahimsa Sumchai Porter, MD, West Portal, Medical Director Golden State MD Health & Wellness is a longtime neighborhood and environmental activist Dangerous Crossroads: 19th and Sloat
A Master Environmental Impact Report Must be Conducted for 19th Avenue Development Projects
San Francisco is a small densely populated seaport city located on the tip of a Peninsula surrounded on three sides by water. It’s day time population of 1.1 million people is packed into a city that is 7 feet square in area. Automobile congestion, high density residential development projects and a suboptimal public transit system have contributed to a growing incidence of pedestrian fatalities citywide. One of the cities busiest and most dangerous corridors is 19th Avenue — a state highway.
19th Avenue connects with the Golden Gate Bridge via Doyle Drive and the $1.1 billion reconstruction of the approach to the bridge will influence traffic congestion along its entire route. The intersection of 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard has been the scene of several horrific accidents and has been designated one of the city’s “deadliest” intersections. Traffic speeds may exceed 45 miles per hour.
In March, upgrades and improvements began at ten intersections along 19th Avenue designed to improve public safety including pedestrian countdown signals, curb ramps, and coordinated traffic signals to avoid red light runners. Enforcement of speed limits on 19th Avenue has always been controversial because the California Highway Patrol and the Taraval Police have shared jurisdiction over the region. Ideas for calming 19th Avenue traffic flow include a proposal to route traffic westward around the less congested Lake Merced Sunset Boulevard corridor.
The private developers of Park Merced have proposed increasing their residential units by 6000 in a development surge that will increase automobile traffic along the southern tip of 19th at the intersection with southbound 280 and 101. “
The California Environmental Quality Act requires that development projects with the potential for resulting in physical change to the environment or requiring discretionary decisions by the City must undergo environmental review. CEQA environmental review for all departments and agencies of the City is conducted by the Major Environmental Analysis division of the Planning Department.
Special studies for environmental review include a consultant prepared Transportation Study when adverse impacts to existing traffic conditions can be anticipated or when the project generates new traffic impacts by increasing residential units, changes off street parking, bus stops or loading spaces, sites new driveways or pedestrian and vehicular access routes to the project site.
Additionally, CEQA Guidelines Section 21090 identifies that a master environmental impact report should be prepared when components of large development projects in the same region produce cumulative impacts that may be found insignificant if each development project is analyzed separately.
CEQA prohibits the “piecemealing” of environmental reviews for large development initiatives which, when considered as a whole in a master environmental impact report, may have significant cumulative unmitigated impacts.
The myriad of commercial and residential development projects that have been proposed along the 19th Avenue corridor is a clear example of the need for a master environmental impact report particularly with regard to the cumulative traffic impacts on pedestrian safety, schools, air quality and natural habitats.
Private developers, Republic Urban Properties, are working independently in preparation of a project design for the Arden Wood project, located at Wawona and 19th Avenue that includes an entry and exit to the development at 19th Avenue. Approval for development projects with entry and exits along 19th Avenue must be granted by the state transportation agency, CalTrans.
The private developers of Park Merced have proposed increasing their residential units by 6000 in a development surge that will increase automobile traffic along the southern tip of 19th at the intersection with southbound 280 and 101.
The SF State University Master Plan for development proposes a highrise at 19th avenue at the Stonestown shopping mall that will increase both pedestrian and automobile traffic.
Another private mixed use residential and commercial development project located at 47th avenue across from the Zoo and Ocean Beach is moving through the Planning Department.
The cumulative impact effects at the study intersections of the various projects proposed along 19th Avenue will only be seen with a master environmental impact report that includes a master analyis of traffic flow, circulation, public transporation level of service and pedestrian safety.
A master environmental impact report for the deadly intersection with Sloat Boulevard should be conducted as a matter of life and death.
Ahimsa Sumchai Porter, MD, West Portal is an environmental activist
SF General Hospital: Rebuild vs. Retrofit
The Environmental Review for SF General Hospital Seismic Compliance Hospital Replacement is slated for release to the public in March of 2008.
San Francisco General Hospital is a 130 year old institution. It is the only Level 1 Trauma center serving San Francisco and Northern San Mateo county. The hospital operates 282 acute medical and surgical beds that are filled to capacity 97% of the time. Ambulances are forced to divert to other hospitals in San Francisco over 20% of the time because of this critical shortage in bed capacity. The hospital is one of two located within the cities southeast sector, providing primary and emergency services to predominantly low income communities of color. St. Lukes Hospital is currently threatened with closure including its emergency services.
In 2004 a Blue Ribbon Committee recommended that a new acute care hospital be constructed on the West Lawn of the SFGH Medical Center campus facing Potrero Avenue. Other options were explored including the co-location of a new acute care hospital to the Mission Bay campus where UCSF is also planning to construct a new hospital that will be operational by 2014. The proposed new ÒGeneral HospitalÓ will increase its acute care bed capacity by one bed! The hospital will increase four times in area.The existing main hospital, like over 500 hospitals in the state of California, does not meet the seismic safety standards mandated by Senate Bill 1953. This legislation followed the collapse of a hospital in the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge earthquake. It requires all California acute care hospitals to remain intact and fully operational in the aftermath of a major earthquake.
SB 1953 does not require that SF General Hospital be rebuilt. It mandates that any hospital not retrofitted by this year that poses a risk of collapse or loss of life cannot be used for acute care until it has been stabilized. Because public funding does not exist to upgrade the stateÕs hospitals, many facilities have applied for a five year extension.
On November 4, 2008 SF voters will be asked to pass an $800 million dollar bond measure to fund the SFGH rebuild. Consider the following facts:
1. The expansion of bed capacity by one bed represents a serious overall reduction in services. The May 2006 report of the Civil Grand Jury on Disaster Medical Preparedness identified the need for up to 600 surge capacity beds in the setting of a major disaster or public health emergency. Additionally, an independent consultant retained by the Controllers Office, reported that half of SFÕs hospitals are operating at an 85% occupancy level and the city faces a 533 acute care bed shortage over the coming years.
2. The EIR for the SFGH rebuild may not adequately analyze the significant noise and safety impacts of the simultaneous construction of the new hospital on the West Lawn, while the existing hospital in Building 5 remains fully operational. The EIR proposes the relocation of a rooftop helipad from Building 5 to the new main hospital without an adequate analysis of noise, safety and flight arrival and departure routes. The EIR for the proposed rooftop helipad on Building 5 has yet to be released to the public. There is concern that the delay in release of the SFGH Helipad EIR is deliberate and intentional given the organized opposition to the citing of helipad at the hospital that has existed for over 20 years. Aeromedical helicopter crash rates have increased according to a USA Today data base. The noise, rotor wash and potential aviation disaster posed by a helipad cited in a dense, unaccepting urban neighborhood adjacent to freeways and within one mile of downtown San Francisco cannot be ignored.
3. The EIR for the SFGH rebuild may not adequately analyze the seismic retrofit alternative for the existing hospital given evidence that it may be more cost effective and less time intensive. Given the $227 million dollar budget shortfall and the $25 million dollars from the General Fund that will be encumbered by the Rebuild project in FY 2007–8, alternatives should be considered. These alternatives must also include a co-location of the planned UCSF acute care hospital and the SFGH acute care hospitals to the Mission Bay Campus.
Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D. West Portal
Originally published at https://westsideobserver.com on October 23, 2021.