Making Waves children in an unsafe location
by Tarnel Abbott, CAG member

On Saturday, June 3, 2006 there was a bus tour of the Zeneca/Cherokee-Simeon and UC Field Station Sites. The Community Advisory Group (CAG) and employees of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) were on the bus. We witnessed five young boys around 11 years old playing outside of Building 240 on the Zeneca/Cherokee-Simeon property where the Making Waves After School Program is held. Building 240 is located on South 49th Street; the south end of the building borders Seaport Avenue.

Below is a photo of the young boys in the midst of child-like horseplay, including one lying on the ground. The area where the children were observed playing is the detoxification ramp where trucks removing extremely hazardous waste from the Zeneca/Cherokee-Simeon site are washed down on the ramp before they are allowed to leave the site. Men in rubber suits wash the trucks here so they do not carry or track toxic material off site.

The CAG has been assured repeatedly that the children are not exposed to the broad array of known site hazards because the children are kept indoors. But children will be children. Running, rolling and playing outside is a natural thing for them to do. Children should be encouraged to engage in child play, but not at this location. No one expects children to be "chained to their desks" all day--this site cannot possibly be considered a safe place for children to play. It is obvious from this event that the children are not always "contained," as we have previously been told.

We also witnessed the building's doors and windows propped open, no doubt to catch a breeze. Again, this is perfectly natural behavior that is tragically unsafe for students and teachers at this particular location.

We advise the strongest possible stand, for the sake of the children whose health may well be compromised by being too close to an unsafe environment. Making Waves is an invaluable asset to the community, we recommend that it be relocated immediately. The use of Building 240 by children should not be allowed.

A shocked DTSC employee rushes from the bus to get someone to stop the children from playing in the contaminated dirt.