Residents of the Bayview have been complaining for more than a year and a half about hazardous dust clouds in the neighborhood, the latest public health concern stemming from the troubled Hunters Point Shipyard Redevelopment Plan. And while that coastal area of the San Francisco Bay has always been windy, the Examiner reports that amidst the construction, the wind has been whipping up “flurries” of hazardous dust. That dust has been identified as “Particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5),” defined as “not a single pollutant but a mixture of many chemical species emitted from different sources, including construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires.”
The Examiner adds that “Long-term exposure to PM2.5 has been linked to premature death, particularly in people with chronic heart or lung diseases, and reduced lung function growth in children.”
Now we know the cause, and the city attorney is taking action. According to the Chronicle, the particulate dust comes from “construction companies illegally grinding concrete, asphalt and other materials at nearby sites,” according to city officials, and City Attorney David Chiu has demanded the companies halt construction immediately in a cease-and-desist letter.
“Creating this level of pollution in a residential neighborhood not only endangers public health but is illegal under our city’s zoning laws,” Chiu said in a section of the letter quoted by the Chronicle. “These conditions would not be tolerated in any other neighborhood, and we cannot tolerate them in the Bayview.”
How safe is the air they're breathing? #WeInvestigate the health concerns about housing the homeless next to a cement and gravel facility.— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) May 7, 2021
Watch tonight at 11 on NBC Bay Area. Channel 11, cable 3. @jvanderbeken reports pic.twitter.com/AUBhLt7o3z
As NBC Bay Area pointed out last year, the construction site is also nearly adjacent to the RV vehicle triage center for the homeless population, as well as Bret Harte Elementary School and the developing Alice Griffiths Apartments complex.
“It was clear to me these companies were operating illegally, and I have been working with the city attorney, community and OCII (Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure) to shut down this activity,” the district’s supervisor Shamann Walton said in a statement to KRON4. “The community has been the leading force behind this most imperative action. We may even have to take further steps to deal with these irresponsible companies.”
The companies in question, according to KRON4, are the property lot owner Murphy Properties, Inc., and the construction contractors Bauman Redi-Mix Concrete, Precision Engineering, and M Squared Construction.
In a statement to the Chronicle, Murphy Properties’ attorney William Wallace said, “All I can say at this time is that this came as a complete surprise to us, and we are evaluating the situation.”