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Navy agrees to retest Hunters Point soil

The U.S. Navy has agreed to retest the soil at a portion of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco, Supervisor Malia Cohen’s office announced Friday.

The agreement comes after months of allegations that Tetra Tech, the company reportedly paid $1 billion by the Navy in 2002 to cleanup the closed shipyard of radiation for redevelopment, had falsified its data.

In response to public outrage from the area’s residents, Cohen last month held a hearing at the Board of Supervisor’s Land Use and Transportation Committee calling on regulators to retest the area’s Parcel A for hazardous materials.

Cohen’s office said Friday that the retesting of Parcel A would be paid for by the Navy with funds secured by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and will be conducted by the California Department of Public Health.

Cohen said in a statement:

“I appreciate that federal and state regulators heard the unmistakable demands of my constituents and have taken this first step to address them.”

She added:

“For decades, workers and community members throughout the Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods have expressed concerns about the dangers of the shipyard, while millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on fraudulent testing by Tetra Tech. More still needs to be done to give assurances of the health and safety of the public and the environment at the shipyard and we will continue to place pressure until regulators do the right thing.”

The testing at Parcel A will start next month, according to Cohen’s office.

In addition, Cohen’s office said, today federal regulators will release a draft of the Parcel G work plan, which includes a timeline for retesting the parts where Tetra Tech tested soil samples.

Pasadena-based Tetra Tech has vehemently denied the accusations that it falsified and manipulated data taken from parcels A and G.

In April, the company offered to pay for the retesting.

In a statement today, Tetra Tech said that it supports the Navy’s agreement to retest the areas where the original samples were taken.

“This process will put to rest false statements and misleading speculation promoted by plaintiffs who are motivated by financial self-gain,” the company said, referring to a $27 billion class action lawsuit filed in early May in San Francisco on behalf of tens of thousands Hunters Point and Bayview residents.

The suit, filed in San Francisco by attorney Charles Bonner, alleges that Tetra Tech disregarded the residents’ lives and conducted unfair and fraudulent business practices.

“We stand by our work as valid, proper and safe. We believe scientifically valid re-testing will demonstrate the company met the standards established by the Navy,” today’s statement said, adding that the company still stands by its offer to pay for the retesting, “as a way to expedite the outcome of this process.”

The site in southeast San Francisco was exposed to radiation contamination when it was used between 1946 and 1969 as a radiological defense laboratory by the Navy to study the effects of radiation on animals and materials and to decontaminate ships used in atomic bomb testing.

In 1974, however, the 500-acre formal shipyard was decommissioned and closed as a Navy facility and slated for housing, office and industrial development.

In September 2017, the Navy made public a preliminary analysis of the cleanup specifically at two of the site’s numerous parcels and determined that nearly half of the samples taken from the site had in fact been falsified or manipulated.

In December the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with other state agencies, independently reviewed the Navy’s report and found further signs of potential falsification, manipulation and data quality concerns. The agencies recommended resampling most of Parcel B and most of Parcel G.

Complicating matters for Tetra Tech, in early May it was revealed that two former supervisors who oversaw the testing of radiation-contaminated soil at the former shipyard pleaded guilty to falsifying reports.

Stephen Rolfe and Jason Hubbard each pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco in the spring of 2017 to one count of falsification of records, but the cases were kept under seal until they were sentenced.

U.S. District Judge James Donato sentenced Rolfe, 65, of Bradenton, Florida, in January to eight months in prison, and Hubbard, 48, of Boulder City, Nevada, in May, also to eight months in prison, according to federal prosecutors.

On May 3, following the sentencing, Tetra Tech issued a statement saying:

“Tetra Tech vehemently rejects this type of activity and will pursue all legal actions available to it to recover the harm that the actions of these former employees have caused to Tetra Tech, the Navy, and the local community. … We have zero tolerance for violations of established protocols and procedures on any project site.”

A spokesperson with the Navy was not immediately available to comment.

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