“The public thinks the site is going to be cleaned up. It’s not,” says the president of a nonprofit watchdog group, who points out the city is going along with a lax new cleanup policy at the Hunters Point Shipyard.

In the year-and-a-half since Curbed broke the bombshell story that U.S. Navy contractors were completely faking data in the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard radioactive contamination cleanup, the Lennar Corporation’s planned development of new homes and offices in the area has been pretty much on hold. The Navy has to retest the soil and show it to be free of contaminants before development can proceed. But a watchdog group insists those results will inevitably be bogus, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports that a nonprofit has discovered that the Navy is just covering up the radioactive soil instead of removing it.  

“Rather than cleaning up the contamination at the troubled Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, the Navy is leaving much of it in place and merely covering it with a thin layer of soil or asphalt,” says the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear safety and waste removal nonprofit. Their full 69-page report alleges that the Navy switched to the cost-cutting "covering" strategy because the contamination is far more widespread than previously thought, and that the city of San Francisco “well knows this and has acquiesced to it.”

That would be an issue, because San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition P in November 2000; a measure that demanded a full cleanup of the shipyard area with no toxic contaminants left behind.

"The policy didn’t change; the policy remained in effect," said Daniel Hirsch, president of Committee to Bridge the Gap and retired UC Santa Cruz nuclear policy professor. "They simply began to violate the policy."

These are the findings and allegations of a watchdog group, the U.S. Navy and the S.F. Department of Public Health have not admitted to any wrongdoing, cost-cutting, or promise-breaking. But the Chronicle obtained 2007-era memos from then-mayor Gavin Newsom’s staff and the DPH saying that a full cleanup would place “unreasonable burdens on development” and “the generation of jobs, housing and other opportunities [would] allow for improvement in quality of life.” And considering the Navy’s track record at Hunters Point, it is not unreasonable to put more faith in the claims of a watchdog group.

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