San Bruno’s toxic stew
Here’s an obvious issue we haven’t heard much of yet from the San Bruno pipeline explosion. The San Mateo County Times reports today about how the site is a “potential cesspool of environmental toxins” and an airborne health hazard.
Not only should we be worried about the direct impacts on the neighborhood’s health, but the stewing mess could run off into the San Francisco Bay if it’s not cleaned up by the start of the rainy season in mid-October.
Hundreds of San Bruno residents are now reoccupying homes overlooking the burned out sites, which contain ash that has the remnants of melted batteries, treated wood, asbestos, pesticides, and more. Although it sounds like officials are removing the debris as quickly as possible, they are not testing air quality or tracking general respiratory ailments.
This reminds me of what New Yorkers went through after 9-11 when the EPA essentially lied about the dangers of air toxins in the aftermath of the attacks, instead urging people to go back to work.
Officials probably think it’s better to reestablish a sense of normalcy than act with caution. Not testing means nobody really knows the dangers that are lurking, and therefore there’s no imperative to act.