According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly all of the radiation data collected on two large parcels of land at the Hunters Point Shipyard is problematic.
The data was collected by Navy contractor Tetra Tech over a 12-year period. The Navy hired the company to clean up radiation at the superfund site in San Francisco.
In January, Navy officials found nearly 50 percent of the company’s data may have been falsified. But the new information from the EPA shows the extent of the potential fraud is actually much worse.
A December 2017 letter sent by the EPA to the Navy – and obtained by a Washington D.C. advocacy group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) – explains that on about 40 percent of the shipyard, the EPA found between 90 percent and 97 percent of Tetra Tech’s radiation data looked “suspect.”
That number is much higher than what the Navy reported publicly earlier this year.
“Hunters Point is unfolding into the biggest case of eco-fraud in U.S. history,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who obtained the EPA document under the Freedom of Information Act. “What makes these findings so remarkable is that the Navy was on notice for years that it had a major data meltdown on its hands yet is still trying to cook the books.”
Officials are working on a plan to re-test the shipyard to make sure it’s safe, but that process has taken months.
The superfund site is slated to be developed into parks, offices and homes, including a considerable amount of affordable housing. Dr. Veronica Hunnicutt, chair of Hunters Point Citizens Advisory Committee, the group appointed to oversee development at the shipyard, says she’s fed up.
“The Navy and the EPA are not moving this along figuring out what they need to do,” she said. “Get the land cleaned up and get it back to the developer. Nothing has happened.”
Hunnicutt says the delay could have a serious impact on people who are looking for housing in San Francisco.
“They don’t have any housing in this area,” she said. “Remember this is the engine for a lot of the affordable housing in San Francisco and the delays mean we are losing even more people.”
The development at Hunters Point and nearby Candlestick Point will ultimately create more than 10,000 homes. The developer, Five Point, estimated it would break ground on new construction this year, but now the company doesn’t know when it will be allowed to start construction.
With so much in limbo, many are now saying the shipyard scandal is making San Francisco’s housing crisis worse.