Navy holds public meeting on radioactive material at Seattle park

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by KING 5 News

KREM.com

Posted on July 19, 2013 at 5:09 AM

The Navy got another chance Thursday night to explain how it will clean up radioactive materials at a Seattle’s Magnuson Park and why the public was not informed of the problem for three years.

Several dozen neighbors and concerned citizens showed up to hear what the Navy had to say.

"We're responsible for the contamination and all we want to do is clean it up," said Cindy O'Hare, who is the Navy's Base Realignment and Closure Environmental Coordinator.

City parks workers stumbled upon  the contamination in an area that's part of the old Sand Point Naval Air Station at Magnuson Park, where sailors once  applied radioactive radon paint to aircraft instruments, so they would glow  in the dark.

O'Hare was one of a few Navy spokespersons to address the crowd, and attempt to reassure them by saying the public was never in any immediate danger, and quick action will be taken to clean it all up.

Some at the meeting say that's part of the problem.  They feel the Navy just wants to sweep this under the rug, instead of taking its time to find the best solution.

"If the Navy gives a damn, if the Department of Ecology and Department of Health are serious, they will wait for a public process to take place before they take action. If they go ahead and start taking action now - they don't care what we think," said Burt Webb

State Representative Gerry Pollet, who has been demanding answers about the contamination for several months, echoed those concerns.

"The Navy said tonight it is going to proceed with the work before the comment period even ends," he said.  "How the heck are we supposed to trust you're following the process if you re proceeding with the work before the comment period ends?"

The Navy insists that's not the case.  In addition to the comments made Thursday night, they're accepting public comments online now through August 31st.

KING 5 environmental specialist Gary Chittim broke this story three months ago, and until then, the public knew very little about the discovery of radioactive material at Magnuson Park.

Many at Thursday's meeting promised to continue to push for answers in the coming weeks, months, and years, if they have to.

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