Shared from the 2018-04-14 San Francisco Chronicle eEdition

EDITORIAL On Hunters Point Contamination

Shock at the old shipyard

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Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle

A whopping $1 billion in taxpayer money already has been spent on cleaning up the Hunters Point Shipyard, a former warship repair base.

According to newly released documents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the federal cleanup of radioactive soil at the Hunters Point Shipyard, San Francisco’s largest redevelopment site, isn’t just a failure.

It may be a complete fraud.

“The data analyzed demonstrate a widespread pattern of practices that appear to show deliberate falsification, failure to perform the work in a manner required to ensure ... requirements were met, or both,” wrote John Chesnutt, manager of the EPA’s local Superfund Division, in a Dec. 27, 2017, letter to the U.S. Department of the Navy.

The Hunters Point Shipyard project is a linchpin of San Francisco’s plan to increase the amount of housing development, including affordable housing, during a time of crisis-level housing affordability.

The project to build about 12,000 housing units, along with millions of square feet of office and retail space, has already cost many years and many billions of dollars. Because the project sits on a former warship repair base and is contaminated with industrial and radioactive pollution, the U.S. Navy needs to complete an extensive cleanup.

Questions about the cleanup effort go back as far as 2012. Last year, other contractors hired by the U.S. Navy reviewed soil samples from two parcels and found as much as 49 percent of the cleanup work couldn’t be trusted.

That was bad enough. But the EPA’s independent review is a revelation. It found that as much as 97 percent of Tetra Tech’s cleanup data for the two parcels is suspect.

So much is at stake with the shipyard project. There’s the whopping $1 billion in taxpayer money that’s already been spent on cleanup efforts. Then there’s the fact that the success of this cleanup will determine the future of an entire neighborhood.

In a statement, Derek Robinson, the navy’s cleanup coordinator for the shipyard said, “The Navy and regulatory agencies agree that all Tetra Tech radiological work areas need to be retested.”

EPA spokeswoman Michele Huitric said in a statement that it wasn’t yet possible to predict how long the cleanup will take.

It’s shocking that San Franciscans have yet to receive the serious response they deserve about what happened at the shipyard — either from the U.S. Navy or from their local officials. There must be immediate accountability, transparency, and action to correct this expanding failure.

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