Saturday, January 27, 2018

SF shipyard soil samples manipulated or falsified, report says

SF shipyard soil samples manipulated or falsified, report says

By J.K. Dineen

January 26, 2018 Updated: January 26, 2018 8:04pm

Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

The site of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard is eventually slated to have more than 12,000 housing units and millions of square feet of retail and office space.

A preliminary inquiry into fraud in the cleanup of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard found that nearly half of soil samples in two swaths of the 491-acre property had been fraudulently manipulated or falsified, according to a draft of the report.

The draft “radiological data evaluation findings report,” completed in September but not released publicly because it isn’t finished, found that out of 853 “units” tested at the shipyard, 414 were either “suspect” or showed “potential data manipulation or falsification.”

The evaluation, first reported by the real estate blog Curbed, recommends several areas for retesting, which will likely delay for at least a year the transfer of a portion of the property from the Navy to Five Point Holdings, the development group picked more than a dozen years ago to redevelop the former naval shipyard, which is slated to eventually have more than 12,000 housing units and millions of square feet of retail and office space.

In a recent public filing, Five Point said that 90 acres the developer had expected to have transferred by the Navy this year would instead be transferred in 2019 at the earliest.

“Allegations that a contractor hired by the U.S. Navy misrepresented its sampling results at The San Francisco Shipyard have resulted in data reevaluation and governmental investigations and are likely to delay the transfer of the 90 acres that we had expected to receive in 2018,” stated Five Point, adding: “It is possible that delays relating to environmental investigation and remediation could slow the remaining transfers from the U.S. Navy, which could in turn delay or impede our future development of such parcels.”

The delays will force Five Point to reprioritize “our development staging,” said Kofi Bonner, regional president for Five Point.
“We are focusing on designing the first commercial properties within the 28 acres of phase 2 shipyard property that are controlled by the city of San Francisco and Five Point,” said Bonner. “Our goal is to create a continuity that connects the completed homes on the hilltop and the first commercial buildings that we are planning.”

The preliminary report raises new questions about the environmental cleanup group Tetra Tech, which won a $300 million contract to oversee much of the $1 billion cleanup job at the former naval facility.

In June, a coalition of environmental groups filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asking the agency to strip Tetra Tech of its license. On Jan. 18, the groups, led by Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, made a supplemental filing that argues that the preliminary evaluation on soil samples adds even more urgency to the need to hire independent investigators to look into Tetra Tech’s role.

Based on interviews with more than a dozen former Tetra Tech employees, “it is likely the Navy will find additional evidence of fraud.”

“The only way to catalog all the improper sampling and remediation is to locate and interview as many former Tetra Tech employees who worked at the (shipyard) as possible to ascertain their knowledge of Tetra Tech’s fraudulent practices,” states the petition.

Tetra Tech could not be reached for a comment. In a statement on the issue in June, Tetra Tech spokesman Charlie MacPherson said the company “emphatically denies the allegations made by individuals at today’s news conference that Tetra Tech engaged in a cover-up of fraud on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.”

So far, 300 housing units have been completed at the shipyard, although those buildings are in a portion of the property that was not used for industrial purposes and has been deemed clean by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Navy.

Though the Navy did not return an email seeking comment, it is expected to hold a news conference and community meeting on the information next week.

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