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Jason Fagone @jfagone
, 14 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
For years, Tetra Tech & the Navy processed thousands of truckloads of contaminated soil right next door to a busy San Francisco office building, spreading radioactive dust into the air. New from @cdizikes
& me:…

I always like reading how other reporters first got into an investigative story so here is a sense of what the journey was like for us. 2/
This one grew out of an earlier piece on an unusual building at Hunters Point -- Building 606. The city started putting police employees there in 1997, using it as a HQ for tactical units & the crime lab. 100+ people worked there for years, 40 still do.… 3/
From the beginning there were problems: lead in the water, dust in the air, radioactivity in surrounding areas. Later, the Navy’s main shipyard contractor, Tetra Tech, dug trenches near the building & searched for radioactive substances dating back to the Cold War. 4/
For that earlier story, we asked Tetra Tech for comment. They essentially said they had nothing to do with Building 606 -- they didn't build it (true), they didn't decide to put city workers there (true). Ok. 5/
Then we noticed something in a set of city emails: In 2007, Tetra Tech and the Navy built this large facility right next to 606, something called a radiological screening yard. Basically it’s a place to bring potentially contaminated soil and search it for radioactivity. 6/
We requested more records and when those came back, we realized that the yard was a story all its own. The yard started operating in July 2007 and continued until 2012. It was very close to Building 606 — across the street to the east, next door. 7/
On this Navy map, 606 is the pale blue rectangle at lower left. Yard is the blue squares on top: RSY2, aka Radiological Screening Yard 2. It’s where Tetra Tech brought large volumes of tainted and potentially tainted soil from all over the shipyard: ~ 6,000 truckloads. 8/
Here’s what caught our eye in the city emails: San Francisco knew the yard could be a risk to its employees. In May 2007, two months before RSY2 opened, a hygienist asked if the city should keep people in the office next door while the yard was processing all this soil. 9/
There was potential for radioactive dust to go airborne. It’s a lot of soil being moved around. There’s a lot of wind at Hunters Point. 10/
The city decided to keep the police there, and the health department promised the SFPD that it would monitor the air, to make sure no city employees were breathing dangerous levels of radioactivity. But we found that the city didn’t do that. Didn’t actually check. For years. 11/
Then, in 2014, when the first hints of problems with Tetra Tech’s work appeared in a Navy report, the city downplayed the findings. A city health official suggested in an email that the scrutiny of Tetra Tech was a waste of money: “your tax dollars hard at work…” 12/
Agencies say today that no one was exposed to dangerous air. But now it’s impossible to know.

Our story:…

Annotated PDF of the documents & emails:…

Our other coverage of this story:…

Thx for reading. 13/13
Also, here is our new @toxicpodcast episode on this story:
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