For Immediate Release: Feb 20, 2019
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
Treasure Island – Another Botched Navy Cleanup in SF Bay
Navy Refused to Review Tetra Tech Work Despite Extensive Hunters Point Fraud
Washington, DC — The U.S. Navy used the same arm of Tetra Tech, a firm linked to extensive sampling fraud at Hunters Point, to conduct radiological cleanup work at the former Naval Air Station Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. Yet, the Navy refuses to reveal whether any of the Tetra Tech work at Treasure Island has been reviewed for similar falsification, according to a federal lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
“PEER has been told that at least one of the Tetra Tech employees who pled guilty to fraud charges at Hunters Point also worked on Treasure Island,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization last year disclosed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency findings that more than 90% of the Tetra Tech data on two key Hunters Point parcels were fraudulent. “We are trying to determine whether the same coverups of radiological contamination plaguing Hunters Point occurred at Treasure Island.”
Created for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition and called Magic Island, the Navy took over Treasure Island in World War II. After the war, the Navy used the base to salvage highly irradiated ships, and for radiation instrument repair, training, and experiments, among other uses. In addition, the Navy left a trove of radioactive material buried in waste pits scattered about the island.
In 2014, San Francisco approved transferring parts of the island from Navy control to the city, with full transfer by 2021. Today, nearly 2,000 people live on the island, many in subsidized housing.
At a May 14, 2018 hearing before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Laura Duchnak, the Director of the Navy’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Program Office, testified that Tetra Tech performed radiological work on Treasure Island between 2007 and 2008, and between 2013 and 2015. Asked if there was “overlap” between the Tetra Tech workers convicted of fraud at Hunters Point and those who worked on Treasure Island, she said that the Navy had not investigated the issue.
On November 1, 2018, PEER submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Navy BRAC asking for documents detailing Tetra Tech’s involvement on Treasure Island and delineating what, if any, quality controls the Navy employed to prevent a repetition of the unfolding Tetra Tech fiasco on Hunters Point. The Navy has yet to provide a single document but did send PEER a December 17 letter stating:
“Despite diligent efforts, we are unable to provide you a final determination on your request…[and] we are also unable to provide an estimate of when your request will be completed.”
Today, PEER filed a lawsuit under FOIA seeking to compel the Navy to provide the documentation.
“After 20 years of cleanup operations, no one can assess with confidence the true depth of radiological contamination remaining on Treasure Island,” added Ruch, noting that since Treasure Island is not a federal Superfund site, the lead oversight agency is the scandal-ridden California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which has earned a reputation for eco-ineffectuality. “At Treasure Island, between the Navy and DTSC we have the willfully blind leading the deliberately uninformed.”