Ahimsa Sunchai demands Newsom retract his misrepresentation of State’s survey of toxics in Bayview

In a message dated 9/22/07 12:56:05 PM,
asumchai@hotmail.com writes:
To: Giselle Barry – Deputy Press Secretary
Mayor Gavin Newsom
(415) 554-6131

Dear Ms. Barry,

I am demanding that Mayor Newsom immediately retract the willful misinterpretation he has widely disseminated of the findings made by the California Department of Public Health in its report and letter authored by Thomas Sinks, PHD.

Mayor Newsom states that the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry, which funds the California Department of Public Health’s Site Assessment Section, which conducted an investigation of the Lennar Construction Site at Parcel A of the Hunters Point Shipyard, found the community was at no “significant risk.”

What Dr. Sinks letters states, in fact, is that …”the exposures did result in some increase risk.” Additionally, Dr. Sinks states…”There was clear evidence that levels of asbestos exceeded mandatory thresholds at both the fence line and in the community.” Additionally, CDPH and ATSDR concur that, “the concentrations of dust could not be interpreted because of their (Lennar corporations) sampling methods.

Mayor Newsom has demonstrated the worst level of unethical, inhumane and opportunistic political conduct in his deliberately wrongful interpretation of the scientific findings of a government agency.

Of additional note is the fact that no licensed medical doctors participated in the investigation by CDPH and no members of the symptomatic exposed community were evaluated to substantiate the recommendations and findings of this report. The CDPH clearly states that testing is not recommended because “no valid tests exist to substantiate the asbestos exposure”.  While this is commonly accepted fact in the medical and scientific community, the new science of biomonitoring can be applied to test for additional inorganics documented to be present as residual soil contaminants in the Finding of Suitability to Transfer for Parcel A and the Parcel A Record of Decision, as well as on page 2 of Article 31 of the Health and Safety Code – the new environmental ordinance adopted at the time of the Parcel A transfer to the City and County of San Francisco in December of 2004 that was codified into law by the Board of Supervisors and signed into law by the Mayor. These residual soil contaminants include petroleum products and breakdown products of diesel, lead, sandblast grit with potential for naturally occurring and man-made radionuclides which was transferred with a deed restriction, and residual metals and volatile and semivolatile organic compounds.

Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow Department of Surgery
Stanford University 1986-1988
Attending Physician Persian Gulf, Agent Orange, Ionizing Radiation Registry,
Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital 1997-2000

Newsom’s Statement

9/21/07 – Mayor Newsom’s Statement Regarding Centers for Disease Control Report on Hunters Point Shipyard Dust Issues

Friday, September 21, 2007
Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications,



We are grateful to the Centers for Disease Control and their Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) for their recently completed report and their attention to this matter.
We are heartened by the fact that the CDC and the California Department of Public Health, who did the substantive analysis for the CDC, appear to agree with the previous conclusions of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and leading independent experts from the University of California at San Francisco and elsewhere that there was no significant health risk created by the grading activities at the Shipyard.
Specifically, the report noted that “even a 7-year exposure to the levels of asbestos measured around the excavation was estimated to have risks that, on a personal level, would be considered low. When one considers that the exposures [at the Shipyard] have occurred over the course of a year or two, the estimated risk would be even lower.”

We also appreciate the CDC’s concurrence that medical testing of individuals for asbestos exposure is not warranted or recommended.

Finally, the City shares the view reflected in the report that, as a matter of good public policy, dust exposure should be limited to the greatest extent practical and we agree with the recommendations in the report for added dust abatement measures such as misting at fence lines, tarping fences and better tracking of wind levels. In fact, the City’s Department of Public Health and Lennar are already working to implement these recommendations.

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