Plaintiffs in a $27 billion class action lawsuit against Tetra Tech, the firm accused of falsifying soil samples at San Francisco's former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, are demanding that Gov. Gavin Newsom rescind a contract with the firm to clean up fire damage in Butte County.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019, attorney Charles Bonner, who's representing the lawsuit's 3,000 plaintiffs, said at a rally in San Francisco on Monday that Newsom is rewarding Tetra Tech with the latest contract, when instead he should be punishing them for the alleged falsified samples.
"These workers weren't leaving the radiation in the ground for their own enrichment, they were leaving the radiation in the ground from orders from the president to the CFO to the CEO on down," he alleged.
Tetra Tech disputed the allegation that management was involved in the malfeasance, saying Mr. Bonner is a disgraced attorney who has been disciplined by the State Bar for his past actions, and nothing he says is true or correct.
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Bonner continued at Monday's rally, "These people (the residents) who are dying, they have cancer and have to worry about their unborn child; they've got generational harm for the next four or five generations. They have legitimate fear."
"Gavin Newsom must now resurrect himself from this abyss of disgrace and show the people that he cares about them and that he loves them and that he is not going to reward a convicted criminal enterprise like Tetra Tech," he said. "This contract must be withdrawn, rescinded immediately."
Tetra Tech was paid $280 million by the U.S. Navy to clean up radiation at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in 2002 as the area was slated for redevelopment.
Claims that soil samples from the site had been falsified and manipulated in order to minimize evidence of soil contamination gained traction in September 2017 when the Navy released a preliminary analysis of the cleanup specifically at two of the site's numerous parcels. According to the findings, nearly half of the samples taken from the sites had been falsified or manipulated.
In a statement, Tetra Tech called Monday's rally a "publicity stunt" and said it would "prevail following an impartial and transparent legal and scientific review of the facts."
Tetra Tech also clarified that while parent company Tetra Tech, Inc. is the owner of a separate legal entity Tetra Tech, EC, Inc., it was Tetra Tech, Inc. that was awarded the contract to clean up the Camp Fire debris, not Tetra Tech, EC, Inc. that cleaned up the shipyard sites.
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Last week, the U.S. Justice Department sued Tetra Tech EC Inc., accusing the engineering company of submitting false billing claims to the U.S. Navy, based on falsified soil and building test data. The suit by the Justice Department replaces three so-called "whistleblower" lawsuits filed under seal in 2013 and 2016 by several former radiation technicians hired by Tetra Tech subcontractors.
Those lawsuits allege that those responsible for the fraud are not only two field supervisors, Stephen Rolfe and Justin Hubbard, who were criminally convicted in 2017, but also other higher-level managers, including Tetra Tech President Andrew Bolt.
Rolfe and Hubbard pleaded guilty under seal in federal court in San Francisco in 2017 to falsifying records by exchanging, or directing subordinates to exchange, soil samples from potentially contaminated areas for samples from clean areas to submit for laboratory testing and each was sentenced last year to eight months in prison.
Tetra Tech has stood by its work, saying on Monday "misleading claims alleged at Hunters Point against Tetra Tech EC stem from isolated acts by two rogue employees during the 2011-2012 timeframe" caused the company to conduct an investigation and correct a number of actions.