Whistleblowers: We were 'puppets on a string' falsifying toxic soil reports at Hunter's Point Shipyard

Byby Cornell Barnard KGO logo
Saturday, February 10, 2018
Whistleblowers speak out about toxic cover up at Hunter's Point Shipyard in SF
Two whistleblowers are now speaking out about a toxic cover-up at the former Hunters Point Navy shipyard in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Their story was the red flag which got the attention of the U.S. Navy.

Two whistleblowers are now speaking out about a toxic cover-up at the former Hunter's Point Navy shipyard in San Francisco. The former employees of the company, contracted to clean up radioactivity at the site, were told to fake soil tests.

RELATED: Navy re-examining clean-up at Hunter's Point Shipyard

"We were like puppets on a string, we did what we were told or else," said former Tetra Tech employee, Anthony Smith.

Smith work for federal contractor Tetra Tech for seven years, testing soil around the Super Fund site for radioactivity. He remembers one instance where a site tested high for radioactive cesium. When he alerted his bosses, Smith was told to keep quiet.

"I was told to get rid of the sample and hush about it," said Smith.

It sounds unbelievable, but recently the U.S. Navy acknowledged the false testing rumors were true. Tetra Tech was fined.

Bert Bowers was the former radiation safety officer who threatened to report what he witnessed to the nuclear regulatory commission.

"The word given to me was you can notify the NRC, but while you're at it, pack your office and get out," said Bowers.

Both Bowers and Smith were laid off.

Hunter's Point is now in the middle of being redeveloped, condos are popping up but neighbors are very concerned about their health and safety. A community meeting was held last week.

The U.S. Navy says it's committed to doing the right thing and retesting soil at Hunter's Point. A US Navy spokesperson says a timeline is still being worked out.

"I'm disappointed it took so long to happen," said Bert Bowers.

Tetra Tech Corporation referred ABC7 News to the Navy for comment.