U.S. authorities have intervened in three whistleblower cases filed against Tetra Tech EC Inc. alleging that the engineering and consulting firm submitted false claims to the U.S. government in connection with its role in testing for radiation at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Navy awarded contracts to Tetra Tech to test parcels of land at the shipyard for radiation and to remediate any areas where the company found the radiation levels to be excessive.
The three whistleblower lawsuits alleged that Tetra Tech misrepresented the source of soil samples it submitted for radiological testing and falsified data collected from radiological surveys of existing buildings at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
Two Tetra Tech supervisors, Stephen C. Rolfe and Justin E. Hubbard, pleaded guilty earlier this year to falsifying records. Both men were sentenced to eight months in prison. Mr. Rolfe and Mr. Hubbard admitted as part of their guilty pleas that rather than take soil samples from the survey units undergoing analysis, they participated in the substitution of non-radioactive dirt fraudulently taken from other areas within the former naval base.
Federal officials indicated they took over the whistleblower lawsuits, which were filed in a San Francisco federal court, due to the serious nature of the allegations and the credibility of the whistleblowers’ claims.
The U.S. government investigates False Claims Act lawsuit allegations made by whistleblowers and may intervene in the case, effectively taking over litigation, or decline to become directly involved.
“It was of critical importance to the United States Navy, and the public, that Tetra Tech perform accurately and fully the radiological testing and remediation at the Hunters Point site for which it was hired,” said Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.
Alex Tse, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, said that it is “of paramount concern” contractors hired by the U.S. government perform their duties “properly and lawfully.” He said any contractors that fail to comply with the contractual obligations would be held accountable.