Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Must Reads: San Francisco’s China Deal Unravels; Treasure Island Toxics Are Much Worse than Previously Disclosed

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 7:03 AM

Stories that East Bay progressives and environmentalists shouldn’t miss:

1. One day after an Oakland developer struck a deal with a Chinese company to build a huge $1.5 billion waterfront project, San Francisco officials acknowledged that a $1.7 billion plan with the Chinese government to build homes and condos on Treasure Island and Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard has unraveled, SFGate reports. San Francisco’s massive projects were to be co-developed by US company Lennar and by the China Development Bank and Chinese Railway Construction Corp., but Lennar officials reportedly said the Chinese entities wanted too much control over the projects, and it was unclear how they would abide by the city’s rules for hiring local workers.

  • Ashley Bates/file photo
2. The Bay Citizen reports, meanwhile, that levels of a nuclear byproduct on Treasure Island are up to three times higher than the Navy had previously disclosed, according to a report commissioned by the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting. High levels of cesium-137, a byproduct of nuclear fission that has been linked to cancer, were found in soil samples collected by Bay Citizen reporters. The latest discovery bolsters earlier reports by the Bay Citizen and the Express that Treasure Island is far more polluted than the Navy or the City of San Francisco have been willing to admit.

3. The State of California has labeled the chemical Bisphenol-A, or BPA, a reproductive toxicant, SFGate reports. BPA, which can cause reproductive harm, is found in canned foods and beverages, plastic bottles, sales receipts, and dental sealants. The state’s decision means that manufacturers that use BPA will have to clearly label their products.

4. A panel of federal judges strongly rebuked Governor Jerry Brown’s request that the court lift restrictions on overcrowding in California prisons, the LA Times$ reports. The judges also threatened to hold Brown and other state officials in contempt of court if they failed to quickly reduce prison overcrowding. The Brown administration claims that it has reduced overcrowding enough and plans to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

5. A series of preventable errors likely caused more than thirty large bolts to snap on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, the Chron$ reports. The big bolts are considered integral in helping the new bridge withstand a major earthquake and Caltrans has yet to figure out how to overcome the problem. Because of uncertainty in the manufacturing process, the bolts were heated to high temperatures twice, which likely caused them to become brittle, and then the bolts were left out in the rain, which made them even more vulnerable to failure.

6. Foreclosure activity in California was down again in March, plummeting by 60 percent compared to the same month in 2012, the SacBee$ reports. It was the third straight month that foreclosure activity has gone down, according to RealtyTrac, which reported on the declines and once again attributed them to the “homeowner’s bill of rights,” which went into effect on January 1.

7. And Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig declined to meet with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, saying that Reed’s threat to sue the league was not “productive,” the Mercury News reports. San Jose officials had threatened to launch litigation against MLB if Selig would not meet personally with the Reed on the A’s proposal to move to San Jose.

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