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Navy contractor says Nancy Pelosi ‘misled’ by whistleblowers in calling for investigation into fraudulent toxic cleanup

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U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a rally against child poverty in April 2017. Pelosi is calling for further investigation into federal oversight of the toxic cleanup at the Hunters Point Shipyard. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The civil engineering firm implicated in reports of fraud in the toxic cleanup at the Hunters Point Shipyard on Friday denounced a call by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to futher investigate the level of oversight by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In July 27 letters addressing the Naval Inspector General, Vice Admiral Herman Shelanski, and U.S. EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins, Jr., Pelosi called for investigations in the the agencies’ oversight during the cleanup and retesting process. Pelosi also called for the creation of a “Hunters Point Hotline” to counter what she called a “disturbing lack of transparency” to the surrounding community.

Navy contractor Tetra Tech on Friday denounced claims made by Pelosi that among other things concede that the company engaged in “massive manipulation and falsification of data” while charged with the shipyard’s radiological remediation.

“The work that Tetra Tech EC completed at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard was done properly and to the standards established by the U.S. Navy,” read a statement released by Tetra Tech that claims that Pelosi “has been mislead by fraudulent accusations by a group of self-motivated plaintiffs” against the company.

Internal reviews by both the EPA and Navy last year found that up to 97 percent of data collected from two radiologically contaminated sites of the Shipyard may may have been compromised. In May, two former Tetra Tech supervisors were sentenced to prison time for admitting to falsifying records.

The company referred to allegations made by former Tetra Tech employees and subcontractors who have attested to incidents of improper data gathering and record falsification during the cleanup, pointing to one of the whistleblower’s arrest records and calling their lawyer “disgraced” for having been previously suspended from the California State Bar.

In its statement, Tetra Tech stated that Pelosi’s comment contradict the San Francisco Public Health Department, which “said numerous times…that the shipyard is safe and meets public health standards.”

Last week, several residents of the more than 350 homes that have been developed and sold to date on a portion of the shipyard stamped off as contamination-free by state and local regulatory agencies sued Tetra Tech, along with landowner Lennar and developer Five Point Holdings, claiming that they were misled about the extent of the contamination at the former naval base.

A $27 billion class action lawsuit was filed in May against the company by Bayview Hunters Point residents allegedly endangering the health of surrounding community members.

Tetra Tech has repeatedly rejected allegations of wrongdoing and blamed the data manipulation on a few “rogue employees.” They company said it reprimanded employees in 2012 were caught mishandling soil samples and falsifying radiation data, and resampled areas that had been compromised.

The company maintains that statements made by Tetra Tech whistleblower Anthony Smith that in 2016 led to an ongoing halt on all land transfers from the Navy to The City for development, were false.

Smith has publicly stated that he was, among other things, that he was ordered by supervisors to swap potentially contaminated soil samples with clean ones, starting in 2009.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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