For Immediate Release: Mar 20, 2019
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
Navy Won’t Surrender Hunters Point Plans Without a Fight
Lawsuit Seeks Navy Next Steps to Remedy Tetra-Tech Radiation Falsifications
Washington, DC —The U.S. Navy refuses to disclose how it will move the decades-long, scandal-plagued Hunters Point Shipyard Superfund radiation cleanup forward, according to a federal lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). For months, the group has sought through the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) the Navy’s explanation for and plan to remedy widespread falsification of soil sampling and building surveys by its principal contractor, Tetra Tech EC, Inc.
The suit would force the Navy to release records of its decision-making on issues uncovered by PEER in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other official documents, including:
- EPA reevaluation of soil samples at Parcels B, G, D-2, UC-1, UC-2, and UC-3 showing widespread fraud (as high as 97%) to mask the true extent of radiation contamination;
- Extensive and systemic data manipulation of Tetra Tech building radiation surveys for the period from 2008 through 2016; and
- The actions the Navy is taking, if any, to verify or redress whistleblower allegations concerning fabrication, data manipulation, and related misconduct by Tetra Tech at Hunters Point.
“This suit probes whether the Navy is a victim of, or a coconspirator in, widespread eco-fraud at Hunters Point,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, pointing to the lack of known corrective action by the Navy despite continuing for years to pay Tetra Tech even after the unreliability of its work was known. “We, as well as the entire San Francisco Bay Area, would also like to know if the Navy has a concrete plan to actually clean up Hunters Point – and if so, what is that plan and when will it be implemented.”
Hunters Point Naval Shipyard has been an EPA Superfund site for 30 years. After World War II, Navy nuclear weapons research and efforts to decontaminate ships exposed to nuclear bomb tests left the site heavily polluted with radioactivity. To date, the Navy has spent nearly a billion dollars on the cleanup.
The PEER FOIA suit also seeks records reflecting the current status of Tetra Tech as a Navy contractor. Recently, the U.S. Justice Department joined a False Claims Act lawsuit against Tetra Tech for recovery of federal funds paid for fraudulent work at Hunters Point and other sites. Yet, the Navy has made no apparent moves to debar Tetra Tech as eligible for future Navy consulting contracts. Significantly, one defense to a False Claims suit is collusion by the contracting agency in any material misrepresentations.
“The chronic lack of candor from the U.S. Navy on matters affecting public health is conduct unbecoming a federal agency,” added Ruch, complaining of the Navy’s intransigence in responding to FOIA requests. “Like squeezing blood from a turnip, extracting public records from the Navy usually requires litigation.”