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$300M Fraud Creates a Nuclear Hotspot

A radioactive Naval item found below an $8B development has redefined the term "hot" real estate.

Apparently, the developers of a 75-acre parcel of land in San Francisco never watched Scooby Doo. If they did, they would have known that you never try to build on top of an ancient burial ground of any type, or at the former site of top-secret scientific research.

Learning these lessons would have meant avoiding the Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco as a possible location for their $8 billion development. Because this site served as a – you guessed it – top-secret nuclear testing facility for the Navy. Ships and equipment exposed to atomic bomb explosions were examined at the site from 1948 to 1969.

In looking to remediate the land, the Navy spent over $1 billion cleaning up the area, which lead to more than 400 homes being constructed over the last 15 years or so. But recently a radioactive deck marker was found less than a foot below the surface of the development. The marker, which dates back to WWII, was used as emergency lighting on the decks of aircraft carriers.

So, right now, your ‘re probably thinking that someone is over-reacting to a single, 50-year-old item missed during the clean-up.

Well, the glow-in-the dark paint on the marker consists of a radioactive substance that carries a nuclear half-life of 1,600 years and produces more than six times the amount of annual radiation exposure permitted for nuclear power plant employees.

The reason it was found stemmed from former employees at Tetra Tech, the contractor the Navy paid $300 million to clean up the site, admitting to falsifying test results earlier this year. Their criminal activities included throwing away soil samples that indicated high levels of radioactivity remained at the site. This led to further testing and redefining "hot" California real estate.

The Navy, the EPA and the San Francisco health department seem to be channeling Kevin Bacon’s character from Animal House, who unsuccessfully tried to quell the Faber College homecoming parade stampede by telling them to “remain calm, all is well”.

The city still wants to know more about how the marker got there, and if more like it are still in place. The Navy has agreed to retest all areas that were previously inspected by Tetra Tech. 

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