>> Across the bridge from San Francisco's glitzy water front, what is slated to become prime real estate, Treasure Island is instead the site of a toxic clean up for over two decades. Reuters Correspondent, Robin Respaut.>> Since the early 1990s, there has been hundreds of bases closed or decommissioned by the US military.
However in many cases, there's been environmental contamination discovered in the year since, and Treasure Island is one of those examples.>> For decades, the Navy buried its garbage including chemicals and radioactive waste along the northern part of the island. That area was eventually paved over in the 1960s to build housing for military families, but when the base was decommissioned over 20 years ago, San Francisco residents moved into the homes, but few were aware of the contamination.
Reuters has examined thousands of pages of documents and public records which show year after year, the Navy understated the extent of contamination. Instead, families were told not to garden or dig in the soil. Katherine Town was one of them. She moved to Treasure Island in 2005 with her husband and three kids.
>> So my kids would, you know, come and just sit out here and do their little chalky things.>> Sometimes, her girls, five and seven at the time, would come home with small items they found in the dirt, metal buttons, rusted disks. They eventually started suffering from rashes, asthma, thyroid issues, and one daughter at 10 was diagnosed with ovarian cysts.
The Navy insists there was never unacceptable risk to residents' health, because the contaminants were buried deep.>> We have spoken to dozens of current and former residents of Treasure Island, and many have complained about odd and serious health ailments that they think are related to the environmental contamination.
However there has not been a comprehensive epidemiology study to link the contamination and these ailments.>> To date Navy contractors have found over a thousand low level radioactive items under the streets and sidewalks, playgrounds and yards. The Navy has been removing pollutants from the island out of quote, an abundance of caution.
And the clean up has delayed a new residential real estate project on Treasure Island that would help alleviate the Bay Area's severe housing crisis.