Navy: No threat from Magnuson radioactive contamination

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 2 at 2:59 PM

The Navy told people Wednesday it never informed of them of radioactive contamination at a Seattle City Park because the public was never in any danger.

The Navy, the State Health Department and Seattle City Parks hosted a public meeting Wednesday night to discuss its plan to clean up contamination at Magnuson Park.

Basia Belza was one of several park neighbors who showed up, armed with some tough questions.

"Magnuson Park is used by a lot of people - young, old, everything in between, and we should know about what's happening down here," she said.

City workers discovered radioactive material in 2009 in a building connected to the Arena Sports Facility. It was leftover from glow in the dark paint used by the Navy when the park was part of the Sand Point Naval Air Station.

The city and the Navy never told anyone about the contamination because they said the public was never in danger.

"You have areas in a public park where you have children playing, you don't ignore your obligation to tell the public that these areas are radioactively contaminated where they've been playing," said Representative Gerry Pollett.

He got into a heated exchange with an environmental lawyer at Wednesday's meeting. The lawyer accused Pollett of grandstanding, to which Pollett responded that he cares about the park and the people that use it.

The Navy fenced off most areas where it identified hot spots and told residents Wednesday any other spots were underground or separated from people and posed no threat.

A Navy project manager told KING 5 the work to clean up the contamination could begin as early as July, and is expected to last about six months. That timeline didn't sit well with the public.

"They're proceeding with the plan, and say 'yeah we'd love to hear from the public', but when does the plan go into effect?" said Burt Webb. "In July. So it's sorta like, if you have something to say, you better say it loud and you better say it fast."

The Navy, meanwhile, says it will consider each and every comment that came in on Wednesday.

"What we hope for this meeting is that people have the opportunity to come in and express their concerns," said Navy Project Manager Dina Ginn. " But also that they come away with the understanding that the public is currently safe, but the Navy is moving forward to remove contamination to ensure their long term protection."

Webb, Belza, and others still aren't convinced.

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