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Old nuclear bomb tests are still haunting us today

Old nuclear bomb tests are still haunting us today


– [Past Narrator] This is the key. It is here that the military,
and scientific personnel of Joint Task Force One
will conduct the tests with the atomic bomb. (rumbling) – [Narrator] You’ve
probably seen this footage. In 1946, the United States
began testing nuclear bombs at the Marshall Islands, in the Pacific. The military detonated a total of 67 nukes there, over 12 years, and in the process, they
irradiated local island residents, people involved in the testing, Japanese fishermen, and
even the islands themselves. But that radiation is still
causing problems today, decades later, and far
beyond the Marshall Islands. It’s front page news
thousands of miles away. – Some disturbing new revelations. – [Narrator] It’s let to whistle-blowers, and angry government hearings. – Shame on our supervisors! – [Narrator] To a neighborhood that feels poisoned by the government, and to a case of ecological fraud that sent two people to prison, so far. – And I can tell when
people are lying to me, and you know what? My bullshit meter just went off. (booming) (introspective music) – [Narrator] This story takes
place about 4,700 miles away from the Marshall
Islands, in San Francisco. The city today is in the
grips of a housing crisis. The population is growing,
land is at a premium, and new housing is desperately needed, and one of the biggest new developments is in an area call Bayview-Hunters Point. It’s a classic gentrification story. A brand new, expensive
development, built next to an established, lower income, historically black community. It’s also the site of radioactive waste, an alleged cover-up, and
some criminal convictions. Less classic. – I mean, I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t. – [Narrator] Chris Roberts
is a freelance reporter who works with The Verge’s
sibling site, Curbed. Chris has been reporting
on this story since 2016, when people familiar with the Hunters Point
developments started telling him the same thing. – They said, look, you
should really look into this. Things are bad, and they’re worse than they’ve been reported. – [Narrator] The controversy stems from the land the development sits on. It’s the site of a defunct naval shipyard, at the edge of the
Bayview-Hunters Point community. Decades ago, the shipyard actually helped created the neighborhood. – People moved from all over the country to work at the shipyard, predominantly African American people. During World War II, San
Francisco’s black population grew by 600%. Not only did the Navy
transform Hunters Point, Hunters Point transformed San Francisco. – [Narrator] The shipyard
was shut down back in 1989, and soon after, city officials
began eyeing it for housing. It’s been slow going, but the
Navy handed the first parcel of land over to the city in 2004. And in 2014, a handful of condos and town homes hit the market, under the name, The
San Francisco Shipyard. But there’s a problem that
goes all the way back to this. (booming) In 1946, the US detonated
a nuke under water for the first time, to
see what would happen to a nearby fleet of abandoned ships. The target ships were
so badly contaminated, that officials later called
them radioactive stoves, that would’ve burned all living things aboard them with invisible and painless, but deadly, radiation. The solution, amazingly, was to tow some of those ships all the way to
the Hunters Point shipyard. There, they went through a pretty messy decontamination process. – Which, at the time, was just a process of literally blasting the holes and the decks with a mixture of sand. – [Narrator] There are different stories about what happened to the sand
after that, but according to this massive Navy document,
the sandblasting wastes were generally packed up, and
pitched, into the sea. But some irradiated grit
did settle elsewhere on the shipyard land, and
that’s just from the nuke tests. There was also radioactive paint left over from ship building, contamination
from fuels and pesticides, and radioactive materials used in lab experiments, and that’s all on top of the asbestos that’s just
naturally in the soil, there. It’s a toxic place, and in
1989, the EPA added the shipyard to the Superfund list. Chris has been sniffing out documentation on all of this, some of
which literally comes out of dusty boxes at the
National Archives, in San Bruno. – This is the first box of six that I’m working my way through. I will be here for most
of the day, now, today. (ticking) – [Narrator] All of the issues
surrounding Hunters Point, the nuclear legacy,
this historic community, the development frenzy, they all build up to the present day, and then collide. Cleaning up all that
waste is a massive effort, and the government hired a
firm called Tetra Tech EC to help, but a few years ago,
whistle-blowers started coming forward with claims of botched
cleanup work by Tetra Tech. – A whistle-blower is telling
our investigative unit that he detected
radiological contamination– – [Narrator] And reporters
with NBC Bay Area got their hands on an
internal Tetra Tech report that admitted Tetra Tech
workers falsified soil tests. NBC called it an apparent
effort to declare the soil free of radiological contamination
when it may not have been. The scandal has only
gotten worse from there. – Which really turns
this case on its head– – [Narrator] This past
May, two supervisors who worked for Tetra Tech were sentenced to prison time for falsifying soil tests. The whistle-blowers,
for their part, alleged that the fraud reached far
beyond the two workers. – Pack your office,
and get off my project. – [Narrator] The Navy
reviewed Tetra Tech’s work, and initially found that about 30% of the sites they checked were suspect. The EPA did a review of their own, and their numbers were worse. – The EPA looked at the report, and said, actually, we think it’s
closer to 95% to 97% of the work done by Tetra
Tech can’t be trusted. (phone ringing) – [Narrator] The Navy told
us that, at this point, they’re planning to check
all of Tetra Tech’s work. – Well, we’re going back to resample 100% of the areas that they have worked on, and that’s gonna tell us,
are these areas clean? Did we take care of the problem in 2014, or is there a lot more
locations out there, that need additional work? – [Narrator] We also talked to Tetra Tech’s public relations person for the scandal, Sam Singer. He talked us in circles, put all the blame for the faked tests on
those two supervisors, and denied just about everything else. – Okay, but remember,
you get to ask question, but I get to give you my answers, okay? That’s the–
– But they’re the same answers every time. – [Narrator] Meanwhile, the
people of San Francisco have not taken kindly to any of this. In May, the city’s board of
supervisors held a hearing to discuss the fiasco. The whistle-blowers spoke their piece, – From the Navy, like,
what the heck happened? – [Narrator] The public came out in force. – We need authority,
autonomy, or at least equity. – [Narrator] And Tetra
Tech’s lawyer stormed out to jeers from the audience. – [Audience Members] Bye! Bye-bye! Bye! A great year. – Hanging over all of
this is a tricky question. How dangerous is the
contamination at the shipyard? We talked to the Navy’s technical liaison to the community, Kathryn Higley. She heads up the School of
Nuclear Science and Engineering at Oregon State University. She says that radiation risk depends on a few things, the type
of radioactive material, where it is, and how much
someone could be exposed to. She said that the amount of
radioactive material found on the site is actually pretty low, and the Navy is confident
that the community is safe. Of course, the scandal
complicates those assurances, and it’s put the new
neighborhood in jeopardy. (brooding music) But there’s also the old
neighborhood to consider, the original Bayview-Hunters
Point community, which lost a major employer
when the shipyard closed, and is now stuck next
to an EPA Superfund site that was never fully cleaned up. – All of a sudden, the shipyard closes, now you’re really paying attention, and the fathers are starting to get sick, and you don’t know why. Mothers who worked in
that shipyard are starting to get sick, and you don’t know why. – [Narrator] Marie Harrison works with environmental advocacy
group, Greenaction, and she was a long-time resident of the neighborhood before moving inland. She’s watched the neighborhood struggle with a lot of health issues, higher-than-average asthma rates, and problems with lung
cancer, and heart failure, to name just a few. For Marie, it feels inescapable. – In Bayview, almost every
other person has asthma, cancer, or something going on. – [Narrator] The community has a lot more than the shipyard to worry about. It’s still home to a
wastewater treatment plant, nearby freeways, and lots of
other heavy industrial usage. Connecting all those hazards to specific health problems can be tricky, but it’s not hard to make some guesses. – We don’t have to be
engineers and scientists, because the one thing I can tell you for a fact, is that we know what ails us. – [Narrator] So ultimately,
the shipyard revelations just are not that novel. The discovery of fraud is vindicating, but it’s not satisfying. – And they had to wait until the newspapers’ reporters started to put it out there, whistle-blowers. There was so much stuff that had piled up before they finally had to acknowledge that we were telling the truth. – [Narrator] For now, everyone
involved is settling in, for more rounds of
testing, investigations, and legal battles, but it’s hard to say if it will be enough, if the people there will ever
really trust the officials who let them down in the first place. – I still don’t trust you, and you have not made whole the wrongs
that you’ve done back here. They’re still lurking,
like a shadow in the dark. – There’s a lot of history
around nuclear weapons testing, that we didn’t get a chance to talk about in the video, but you can check
out the documents, yourself. We linked to them in the description, so take a look, it’s
incredible what’s in there.

38 comments

Money over life everywhere. Life does not have a high priority in this country. This is just one site of thousands where people are getting sick of some kind of contamination. Our government has used us as test objects forever. Nothing will change because of money talks.

At the time it was about national security and eventually the preservation of mankind, here is a well made timeline of nuclear tests (kinda fun to watch); https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=856fWEltiXo

Yes; just the other day a ghost of a nuclear bomb was in my home, haunting us, saying "Boo" and stuff like that; it was just awful!!!

How many time I have to say this, increasing dose of radiation won't cause cancer until it reach a critical level, and you can only receive that critical level if you walk around a nuclear reactor that have melt down, or drink contaminated water and milk. Before you reach that critical level, increasing dose of background radiation accually reduce the risk of cancer over several generation. Anything that directly cause cancer on individual cannot increase the average probability of cancer in a large population, vise versa.

dude it's very simple, if you want to see for yourself if the area and soil is radioactive, just take a geiger counter and walk through the suspected area of contamination and take some readings. then you'll see for yourself

nukes made America super power and the dollar  boss         nukes and American radioactive arsenal   created  American dream           all wars created to  make America rich    shut up and enjoy your centuries old narcissism

That bastard lieing through his teeth needs a bullet. Any human that sacrifices another human for personal gain should be killed.

7:38 😂😂😂😂😂😂 try a different hairstyle😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

1:50 when u live that stoner hippie life and gotta dressup for a court date that u got to high and forgot about

Typical, human ruin an area with toxic A or B, the people who did it are dead & gone. The people left behind pay the price with their health. The low value land occupied by low income people who then suffer even more because of hidden radioactive or other toxic waste problems caused by selfish incompetent jerks who never cleaned up their mess, lazy, unethical, unfair, unjust, unreasonable, mankind sure does have a way of doing things that makes me worried about the future!

7:31 – But Rachel, surely you can summon your Valkyrie warrior sisters and go trounce Tetra Tech and force them to clean up the radiation…?

the rad waste its it from medical or research so what does that have to do with Bikini Testing site or even Johnston Island or even Nevada weapons testing.

wtf a direct quote: "can't draw conclusions but we can guess……" my jaw literally fell open. How fuckin' stupid are you. Science doesn't care about your feelings.

It's one thing with nuclear explosions, they are pretty intimidating. Maybe because I'm slightly claustrophobic, so the thought of something that extraordinarily massive in the sky would just be pretty damn overwhelming. It's just absolute awesome respect for the power of the nuclear fission and fusion. Too much power to have in man's hands.

There is a 1700 page report produced by the DOD in the late 1980s showing the extend of radioactive fallout. It extends from California up through the Midwest of the US with the trail sort of ending north of the Great Lakes.

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