SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The U.S. Navy will retest San Francisco’s Hunters Point Shipyard for radioactive contamination after a report indicated falsified data from a contractor hired to clean up the site.

The Navy has confirmed that soil samples used to test for radioactivity are not reliable.

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The tests were performed by Tetra Tech, a private company based in Pasadena. The Navy says it doesn’t trust the 12 years worth of work.

“They had inconsistencies, indicative of falsification,” said the Navy’s environmental coordinator for the project, Derek Robinson. “Could be the range of background that comes from these different soils.”

The Navy is expected to conduct extensive retesting of soil and other samples from the places where the company worked.

“You know, our job is to make sure the property is safe, and until we go out and re-test everything, we’re not going to be able to say that,” said Robinson.

The retesting is likely to delay development at the former shipyard, which despite its status as a highly contaminated Superfund site is slated for as many as 12,000 units of housing as well as office and retail space.

The shipyard site was used for experiments using radioactive material and also as a site for cleaning ships involved in atomic testing, among other issues. Large amounts of toxic waste were dumped in the area with poor and limited documentation.

The findings of possible fraud are a vindication for community activists, who have been arguing for years that the cleanup and redevelopment efforts were putting public safety at risk. It was largely through the efforts of whistleblowers that Tetra Tech’s alleged falsification of data was exposed.

Tetra Tech has not commented on the allegations.

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“This is the ultimate ‘I told you so’ with some of the most toxic chemicals known to mankind,” said Bradley Angel, Executive Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice.

From the day the Navy announced the shipyard would close, the fate of Hunters Point has been closely tied to the city’s struggles with race, housing and poverty. The redevelopment here was supposed to address those problems but now, the falsified soil samples mean this area’s new beginning might face another delay.

“I would say that nothing is going to happen here for several years, at a minimum,” said Angel.

Angel says the Navy’s admission only confirms what he and other environmental watchdogs have suspected for years – that safety of this land is still in question, both for the undeveloped shipyard areas and the hills now dotted with new homes.

“As for the homes on the hill here, the fact is Tetra Tech certified that this site is clean,” said Angel. “At this point, based on what the government has told us, I wouldn’t believe anything this company says.”

Greenaction has additional concerns, including the fact that the cleanup plan calls for toxic waste at the waterfront to be covered and sealed and used as open space, raising concerns about how it will be affected by rising sea levels and ground water.

Ultimately, “People should not live next to radioactive and toxic waste at Superfund levels,” Angel said. “It’s not safe.”

Navy officials will brief the public Wednesday evening on problems with the cleanup. The community meeting will take place at 451 Galvez Ave. at 5:30 p.m.


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