Navy aims to calm controversy over Magnuson Park contamination

SEATTLE -- The U.S. Navy is trying to calm the controversy over radiation contamination at Seattle's Magunson Park, where a major environmental cleanup operation is just getting under way.

The Navy gave KOMO News a tour of the contaminated areas of Building 2 at the Sand Point facility where radiation detectors confirm the presence of radium from the paint once used in this former military shop to make aircraft dials glow in the dark.

"We want to make sure the public is safe," said Leslie Yuenger with the U.S. Navy.

The Navy will spend the next six months removing contaminated portions of this building along with soil and trucking out the material in water-tight containers.

"We brought you in because we want you to help us show the public the levels of contamination are very low," Yuenger said.

But it's higher than what the state allows, so the Navy is paying for the approximately $9 million clean-up.

The Navy admits it should have done a better job telling the public about the contamination in Magnuson Park. Residents have expressed their anger it took so long to learn about it.

The Navy is trying to make up for that.

"We want the public to have confidence that the Navy's providing them with all the facts," Yuenger said. "Once you're given all the facts, you can make up your own mind. You're an intelligent person, you want to make sure your family is safe."

But State Representative Gerry Pollet is the leading critic of the Navy and insists the military is still holding back information about the effectiveness of the project and potential health effects.

"The Navy is still not releasing the normal reports that a community would receive that a community would need to comment on a proposed cleanup," Pollet said.

The Navy says all documents pertaining to the issue are available on their website and at the Northeast Branch of the Seattle Regional Library at 6801 35th Ave NE.

Thursday night, the Department of Ecology will hold a public hearing at the Mountaineer's Headquarters from 6-10 p.m. where people can get more information and speak their minds.