Navy’s Pick To Review Shipyard Cleanup Fraud Also Faked Data
City staff “extremely concerned” about choice of CH2M Hill
The redevelopment of the Hunters Point Shipyard was derailed last year by whistleblower reports that Navy contractor Tetra Tech had faked more data than previously believed about the cleanup of the toxic and radioactive Superfund site. With land transfers on hold and city powers reeling, the Navy hired global engineering company CH2M Hill to review Tetra Tech’s data and do community outreach.
One problem: CH2M Hill also faked environmental data on the very same project. When doing mass grading for developer Lennar/FivePoint, a CH2M Hill employee falsified data from the site’s dust and asbestos monitors, according to city staff, leading to a $515,000 fine levied by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
City staffers are “extremely concerned” about the selection of CH2M Hill, according to draft meeting notes prepared by OCII project manager Tamsen Drew and obtained by All City News. They raised the issue at the December meeting of the “Tiger Team” of stakeholders responding to the faked data crisis at the Shipyard.
“City staff have repeatedly raised concerns with the Navy in selecting CH2M Hill for this scope of work,” wrote Drew. “The scope of work prioritizes restoring the community’s trust in the work conducted at the Shipyard. Staff remain extremely concerned in the Navy’s selection given CH2M Hill’s past performance and the community’s continued distrust relating to dust and asbestos.”
The Tiger Team was assembled one month earlier, after the U.S. EPA ordered the Navy not to transfer any more land for development. So far the meetings have included Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Malia Cohen, at least eight city officials including Department of Public Health director Barbara Garcia and former OCII director Tiffany Bohee, Lennar executive Kofi Bonner, high-level representatives from the Navy, the U.S. EPA, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board, and Nancy Pelosi’s chief of staff Robert Edmondson, who attends by phone.
The city also expressed concern that (as of December, at least) the U.S. EPA and Department of Toxic Substances Control did not have enough staff to deal with all of the different environmental issues on the Shipyard.
“City staff are concerned that the regulators are appropriately focused on addressing the radiological issues, but do not have staffing capacity to continue working on non-radiological transfer issues,” wrote Drew. “This could lead to a significant delay in the transfer of property.”
Navy environmental coordinator Derek Robinson confirmed that many land transfers would be delayed for over a year while investigations continue.
CH2M Hill holds the main contract to investigate the soil sample data but has subcontracted much of the work to Las Vegas-based physicist Scott Hay, who is working with a team of three physicists and a statistician. Hay’s contract runs through June and his team will focus on statistical models, at the Navy’s request. Hay’s team has no contact with whistleblowers and is not involved in the parallel criminal investigation. Hay said the Navy wants to focus on soil sample data because that is what determines when they can transfer property again.
Asked if he had ever worked on an investigation into falsified radiation data, Hay said he was not aware of a situation like this ever occurring before on any radioactive site in the country.
All City News has requested more documents related to the Tiger Team meetings from the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Public Health and will continue to follow this story.