NATIONAL CITY, Calif. — San Diego County’s Air Pollution Control District released a report stating that the smoke from the USS Bonhomme Richard was full of toxic chemicals. The report directly contradicts what Navy officials initially told the public.
The state’s Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment also reviewed the samples taken of the air. While chemicals were present, they believe the chemical Benzene in the toxic smoke was not at levels causing health concerns.
However, it wasn’t just elevated levels of Benzene found in the samples. The smoke also contained chloromethane and acetonitrile.
The samples were taken from sites nearby the burning ship, the closes one being Sherman Elementary. Residents from as far away as Vista reported seeing smoke and smelling a plastic or electrical-like odor.
People who live in Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, and National City are especially concerned. Advocates say these areas have suffered the most because of the air pollution from the fire. Many families were forced into lockdown because of the smoke. The advocate said, “I began hearing from elders in the community that they couldn't breathe, they had to close their windows in the heat. They were struggling and had very little support and no one was communicating with them."
A group has been created to ask that a contingency plan be put in place in case another fire or something similar happens again. They are also calling on the Navy to improve communication with neighboring residents.
The full "Elevated Compound Data Report" can be found below.