Advocates mount a regional push for environmental justice
The shipyard, meanwhile, has been the central focus of controversy surrounding plans to clean up and redevelop the area. People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER) and Greenaction are currently challenging the EIR for Lennar's massive redevelopment plan for the neighborhood, charging that the study is inadequate because a cleanup effort on the part of the U.S. Navy has yet to determine the level of toxicity that will need to be addressed, so the assessment is based on incomplete information. Asthma is commonplace in the Bayview, and health surveys have shown that the rates of cervical and breast cancer are twice as high as other places in the Bay Area.
"Our environmental issues are massive still, and it's not just Bayview- Hunters Point," notes Marie Harrison, a long-time organizer for Greenaction and a Bayview resident.
Harrison recalled the many times she'd gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to drive a friend's or neighbor's asthmatic child to the hospital. "That story has repeated itself tenfold in Richmond and in Oakland," she added. Nor is the problem simply limited to those Bay Area cities, she said, noting that communities of color throughout the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 9 face similar issues.
As awareness about the scope of the problem has increased over the years, she said, "We start to say, my God, this triangle has to become a circle."