Muhammad began to raise a storm about dust violations next to his nonprofit Muhammad University of Islam, Lennar Urban senior vice president Menaker accused him of being a "shakedown artist" when he refused an offer to temporarily relocate the school.
But Muhammad told the Guardian he refused the offer "because I didn't want the school to be bounced around like a political football. And because I was concerned about the rest of the community."
Muhammad said he's trying to sound the alarm about Lennar before it takes over all of Hunters and Candlestick points. As he told us, "This city is selling its birthright to a rogue company."
So what does the BAAQMD intend to do about Lennar's enforcement record past, present, and future?
At an Oct. 29 hearing on asbestos dust, the BAAQMD Board of Directors unanimously instructed staff to pursue the maximum fines possible for Lennar's Parcel A violations.
Air district staff tried to reassure the public that the "action levels" the BAAQMD set at the shipyard are health protective and provide a significant margin of safety.
Health impacts from unmonitored exposures, BAAQMD staffer Kelly Wee said, "are well within the guidelines," claiming a "one in three million" chance of developing asbestos-related diseases.
BAAQMD board member Sup. Chris Daly, who as a member of the Board of Supervisors voted July 31 to urge a temporary shutdown of Lennar's Parcel A site, praised the air district for "moving forward with very conservative action levels.
"But these levels are political calls that are not necessarily scientific or health based," Daly added. "The initial violation, the one that, according to Lennar, CH2M Hill is responsible for, we don't know what those levels of asbestos were, and that's when the most significant grading occurred.
"The World Health Organization and [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] scientists are very clear that any level of exposure to asbestos comes with an increased health risk, and if you are already exposed to multiple sources, this becomes more serious," he said, referring to the freeways, power plants, sewage treatments plants, and substandard housing that blight the community, along with the area's relatively high rate of smoking.
The BAAQMD's Wee told the organization's board that Lennar did not conduct proper oversight of its contractors and did not properly document the flow of air through its monitors but did discover and report its lapses in August 2006.
"Lennar exceeded the air district's work shutdown level on at least 23 days in the postAug. 1, 2006, period, which is when the developer was monitoring asbestos dust," Wee observed, noting that the air district has two additional notices of violation pending against Lennar for 2007: one for overfilling dump trucks, the other for failing to maintain enough gravel on truck-wheel wash pads.
BAAQMD spokesperson Schkolnick later confirmed to the Guardian that the air district issued Lennar a notice of violation on Oct. 26 for failing to control naturally occurring asbestos at Parcel A, where grading is finished, but Lennar subcontractor Ranger is digging up the earth again to lay pipes.
"It's time for the board to make sure the air district is as aggressive as possible to protect residents and sensitive receptors," Daly said. "Asbestos is carcinogenic. The state and federal government knows it. That was why there was an asbestos-dust mitigation plan. The air district asked for air monitoring because of the site's proximity to a school.
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