Imagine a park that you played at as a child. Or imagine watching a child as they take their first steps under the open sky and bright sunlight. A more idyllic place could not be imagined. That’s what everyone thought…until they discovered that the soil underfoot was radioactive. That is what happened at Magnuson Park in Seattle.
The park, named after former Senator Warren G. Magnuson, has been the site of a lot of controversy. It started out as a Navy Airfield until it was later repurposed for community activities. However, some remnants of the old usage nefariously remain. Radio luminescent paint that was used as glow-in-the-dark paint for aircrafts, ships and other Navy equipment has leached into the soil, causing radioactivity.
What startles most Seattleites is the fact that the Navy knew about this and said nothing. Back in 1996, they found high level readings at three of the old buildings. Then in 2009, city workers found radioactive material in a building connected to the Arena Sports Facility. At that point, they put up protective fencing but still failed to alert the public of actual danger.
According to the Navy, the public was never informed because they were in no danger. Yet, isn’t any amount of radioactive material dangerous?
Recently, the Navy, the State Health Department, and Seattle City Parks hosted a public meeting to address questions, comments and discuss its clean-up plan for the park. Members of the public came with tough questions and expected answers.
Basia Belza, a park neighbor, said, “Magnuson Park is used by a lot of people – young, old, everything in between, and we should know about what’s happening down here.”
A project manager for the Navy told KING 5 news that they “could” begin to clean up the contamination in July and that it would last for about six months. That might also mean that it “could” begin later and last longer. So, until the plan is actually put in motion, the public will continue to wait for results.