Image for post
Image for post
The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard (HPNS) is a federal Superfund site located on the historic Hunters Point promontory extending east into San Francisco Bay. It is adjacent to a densely populated neighborhood home to San Francisco’s largest childhood population. HPNS is a “Super Superfund Site” — one of the most contaminated properties on the federal Superfund list, assigned an EPA Hazard Index of 100 for ground water migration. The Parcel E-2 federal Superfund site occupies the southern shoreline. In 2016 the EPA designated Yosemite Slough a federal Superfund site HPNS drains into…like a toilet that does not flush!

On the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard!

In the latest chapter of “The Superfund Saga”, HP Biomonitoring scientists detect four signature shipyard toxins in South Basin neighbors. The discovery began in July of 2019, when a family of four underwent urine toxicological screening that detected four chemicals in elevated concentrations. Those chemicals are Arsenic…Gadolinium…Manganese…and Vanadium. All four are chemicals or radionuclides of concern documented to be present in soils, landfills, groundwater and laboratory drains at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

HP Biomonitoring has identified a cluster of urine toxicology screenings in which three of four elements are detected in elevated concentrations. This push pin map assigns the color red to Arsenic, lue to Gadolinium, Yellow to manganese and White to vanadium. In one screening all four elements were detected, including arsenic in dangerously high levels.

Vanadium is a nutrient element that plays a role in normal human physiology but, when inhaled in toxic concentrations, irritates the nasal mucosa causing headaches and nosebleeds. Two members of the family reported headaches and nosebleeds. Vanadium is an alpha emitter used in the production of high speed steel tools. It has the shipyards fingerprints on it!

Image for post
Image for post
Three of the four elements of the Arsenic/Gadolinium/Manganese/Vanadium cluster are Parcel A soil elements. Arsenic exists, in shipyard soil and groundwater, as a stable element and as radionuclides with short half lives. Construction lumber is treated with arsenic and copper as a pesticide.
Image for post
Image for post
The May 27, 2004 transcribed minutes of the Hunters Point Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board document the EPA/Navy decision to lower cleanup standards for Manganese -a chemical universally detected by HP Biomonitoring in elevated concentrations in urine toxicology screens conducted on shipyard workers and neighbors.
Image for post
Image for post
Official transcript of the May 27, 2004 minutes of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board document RAB members Dr. Ahimsa Sumchai and Raymond Tompkins objected to relaxed clean up standards for manganese and nickel. Sumchai and Tompkins now serve as HP Biomonitoring PI and Environmental Health Educator. HP Biomonitoring has detected the element manganese in concentrations greater than 1 S.D. in all urine toxicology screenings performed to date.
Image for post
Image for post
Many of the heavy metal elements in shipyard soils are derived from the Serpentinite bedrock of the Hunters Point hilltop. HP Biomonitoring has detected elevated levels of copper, zinc, nickel and other soil elements in urinary screenings likely due to airborne exposure to volatilized shipyard soils released by grading and construction activities on the Hunters Point hilltop.

But if this was a crime scene investigation in a community wide poisoning, Gadolinium would be a prime suspect…and Gadolinium has the shipyards SIGNATURE ON IT! Gadolinium is used in neutron shielding of nuclear reactors and in nuclear propulsion systems. Gadolinium has been detected in a cluster of HP Biomonitoring screenings concentrated in the South Basin region of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

Image for post
Image for post
Table 8–2 from the shipyards HRA 1939–2003 Final August 2004 documents Gadolinium (Gd) to be a potential ROC. It also documents Potassium (K) to be a potential ROC. Potassium as K40, is a gamma emitter abundant in shipyard soils and the signature element that triggered Navy computer detection of 2,500 anomalous soil samples that led to the Tetra Tech scandal. HP Biomonitoring has detected elevated potassium in urine screens volunteered by residents living on the Hunters Point hilltop. None were prescribed potassium supplements.

Gadolinium is a gamma emitting radionuclide documented in the shipyards Historical Radiological Assessment to be a potential Radionuclide of Concern or ROC.

Due to FDA “black box” warnings, Gadolinium is used infrequently in contrast agents to enhance head and neck tumor detection and in high risk women who require MRI breast screening. The FDA warned of risks linked to Gadolinium use in MRI scans in 2018, after a series of lawsuits determined it can deposit in the brain and body for months and is associated with a rare kidney disease called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis.

Image for post
Image for post
Gadolinium is a radionuclide used in contrast agents to enhance MRI imaging of soft tissue to improve diagnostic accuracy in high risk breast cancer and tumors of the head and neck.

None of the HP Biomonitoring screenings in which Gadolinium has been detected in toxic ranges are in residents documented to have undergone recent MRI scans using Gadolinium based contrast agents, but two screenings in the Arsenic/Gadolinium/Manganese/South Basin cluster are residents diagnosed with cancerous and non-cancerous tumors. Thus, Gadolinium retention syndrome remains a possibility. The presence of Gadolinium in concentrations 20 times greater than maximum allowable levels combined with the additive and cumulative effects of three simultaneously detected toxins clearly warrants further investigation and environmental remediation.

The Executive Summary of the National Health Research report: The Health Risks of MRI’s with Gadolinium — Based Contrast Agents concludes:

“There is growing concern as well about gadolinium in the environment…there is a lack of data about the effects of lifelong exposure to low levels of gadolinium from the environment, particularly with exposures during critical periods of life, especially in utero or early childhood.”

Image for post
Image for post
A “nest” of sensitive receptors is centered in the South Basin region that includes Bayview Park, the Martin Luther King Junior Pool and Southeast Health Center. This“nest” of children, aquatic athletes, seniors and medical patients is “a stones throw” west of Yosemite Slough -an EPA designated Superfund site and frequent site of illegal dumping.
Image for post
Image for post
Yosemite Slough is heavily contaminated from industrial waste. It is known to contain toxic levels of PCB’s and lead. This neglected region extends inwards from the South Basin and once sustained plants and animals in a marine ecosystem. In 2016, after decades of toxic dumping from surrounding industry and the shipyards radiation contaminated Parcel E shoreline, the EPA posted signs warning the public to stay away from Yosemite Slough after it’s designation as a federal Superfund site. The EPA reached settlements with multiple polluters to begin the cleanup. Exxon Mobil, Occidental Chemical, Coca-Cola, Textron and Pennzoil were parties to the Polluter Pays action. Government parties were charged by the EPA under the federal Superfund law- including the City & County of San Francisco and the U.S. Navy.
Image for post
Image for post
Environmental Crimes, Environmental Injustice…Polluter Pays!

Do these three urine toxicology screens look alike to you? They shouldn’t! They are from people of different ages and skin colors…yellow…black…and white. They share the same gender but range in educational attainment and professional careers. What they have in common are several irrefutable facts:

Image for post
Image for post
Urine toxicology screen conducted on a long term worker UCSF Building 830 Animal Compound 25 feet from the Parcel E-2 landfill- a federal Superfund site.
Image for post
Image for post
Urine toxicology screen conducted on a long term resident living a quarter of a mile from the shipyards main entry that runs east on Palou to Crisp Road site of the Building 800 series Naval Radiological Defense Laboratories.
Image for post
Image for post
Urine toxicology screen conducted on a doctor and South Basin homeowner diagnosed with three brain and one lung tumor of differing pathology.

The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program conducted a subpopulation analysis on a cluster, identified by pattern recognition, in which four elements were simultaneously detected in toxic concentrations.The elements were Arsenic…Gadolinium…Manganese…and Vanadium.

What all three urine toxicology screens have in common is that they belong to a cluster of nine screenings in which at least three of the four elements were detected in potentially toxic ranges.

More significantly, the cluster of nine urine screenings were mapped and determined to be concentrated in the shipyard’s South Basin region.

All four elements were detected in concentrations above reference range in this South Basin neighbor:

Image for post
Image for post
Arsenic detected in potentially toxic concentrations exceeding TMPL (Tentative Maximum Permissible Levels), Gadolinium detected at maximum allowable level, Vanadium detected in concentrations almost double the reference range maximum and Manganese detected in concentrations within micro units of the maximum allowed.
Image for post
Image for post
It is an unappreciated fact that when entering San Francisco traveling north up the southern peninsula, the first point of entry is Bayview Hill…overlooking the South Basin region of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard’s heavily contaminated Parcel E shoreline and E-2 landfill. The South Basin drains into a horizontal channel called Yosemite Slough or Creek. In 2016 the EPA designated it a Superfund site.

All four elements are documented by the EPA and the Navy to be chemicals and radionuclides of concern at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard — “across the pond” from the South Basin.

HP Biomonitoring designates the group of nine screenings the Arsenic/Gadolinium/Manganese/Vanadium South Basin Cluster. It includes all screenings conducted and retrospectively analyzed as a subpopulation using simple entry criteria. All screenings are conducted on residents and workers within a one mile radius of HPNS.

To be entered into the cluster, three of the four elements must be detected in concentrations higher than allowable for the normal population. Using that criteria, nine urine screenings emerged. Seven of the screenings belong to neighbors and workers in the South Basin region. All four elements were detected in elevated concentrations in a South Basin homeowner.

Two urine screenings in the cluster belong to Hunters Point homeowners near Palou— the main entry to the shipyards NRDL laboratory campus on Crisp Road. They include a young man who moved from Chinatown to Hunters Point at age five and developed childhood asthma. He now lives adjacent to and works on the shipyard and has a body burden of toxic chemicals detected in his urine screening higher than many long term residents screened in their 60’s!

The most significant fact, however, is that associated health effects are evident in the Arsenic/Gadolinium/Manganese/Vanadium cluster. Health effects that include cardiopulmonary, immune and metabolic diseases, cancerous and non cancerous tumors. Inorganic arsenic is the most significant chemical contaminant in drinking water globally. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified arsenic as carcinogenic in humans causing cancers of the skin, lungs and bladder. Arsenic impacts child health and infant mortality and has been linked to mortality due to multiple cancers, lung disease, heart attacks and kidney failure along with negative impacts on cognitive development, intelligence and memory.

Image for post
Image for post
A Navy remediation study of radiation impacted shoreline and underwater regions of HPNS facing the South Basin demonstrates the entire Parcel E shoreline and South Basin region to be radiation contaminated. The western boundary of that impaction is parallel to residences on Ingalls street.
Image for post
Image for post
The United States Naval Radiological Defense Laboratories operated at Hunters Point from 1946–1969. NRDL was the main contributor to the radiation “load” dumped onto the shipyards southern shoreline. Radioactive waste was poured into laboratory drains and sewer systems connecting to the Hunters Point community and San Francisco Bay. Radioactive waste, including animal carcasses and radium dials, were disposed of in a landfill west of the NRDL Building 800 campus along Crisp Avenue. That Parcel E-2 landfill is a federal Superfund site.

“The greatest threat to public health from arsenic originates from contaminated groundwater.” World Health Organization

Image for post
Image for post
The Parcel E-2 landfill on the southwestern shoreline drains into the South Basin of San Francisco Bay and stagnates in the Yosemite Slough channel projecting westward into residential neighborhoods. The detection of arsenic in alarming concentrations using HP Biomonitoring urine toxicology screening documents, for the first time, a toxic element whose pathway of exposure may be waterborne. Arsenic has been detected in groundwater at HPNS. Arsenic toxicity globally is caused by arsenic from geologic sources contaminating aquifers, drinking water and from mining and industrial processes. Arsenic is used in the shipping industry as an alloying agent and in metal adhesives, wood preservatives and ammunition.Chronic arsenic exposure is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and skin lesions. Protecting our water supply is the most effective way to prevent

A future role for human biomonitoring in “reverse engineering” environmental remediation is evident. It is a groundbreaking role that will advance environmental public health at the intersection of personalized and population medicine and broaden our understanding of environmental determinants of health.

The establishment of the Hunters Point Community Toxic Registry will offer safe tracking of the findings of the Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program in a scientific format designed to archive, analyze and retrieve registry data tracked to identify adverse health effects linked to environmental and occupational exposures.

Image for post
Image for post
Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, MD — Medical Director & PI Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program. Dr. Sumchai is a former physician specialist with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and served as an emergency physician and head of the Toxic Registry at the Palo Alto VAH. Dr. Sumchai became the first African American female in the nation to serve as a flight physician and postdoctoral fellow for Stanford LifeFlight. An archive of PubMed peer reviewed research articles on Spinal Stabilization and Helicopter Transport at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Sumchai%20A%5BAuthor%5D
Image for post
Image for post
Stanford Life Flight circa 1988 — left to right Ev Croes — pilot, Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, MD — Flight Physician and Postdoctoral Fellow Department of Surgery, Tony Leiker, RN — Flight Nurse
Image for post
Image for post
I understand what this means!

Medical Director - Golden State MD Health & Wellness. UCSF/Stanford Author & Researcher. PI HP Biomonitoring. Certified Clinical Nutritionist. PoliticoMD!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store