The Federal Bureau of Investigation is done with an investigation into whether officials conspired to conceal asbestos exposure at the Hunters Point Shipyard site in San Francisco, California.
The investigation started last year when the FBI fielded complaints from an environmental group alleging that a construction company, an Environmental Protection Agency agent and local officials purposely hid information about asbestos exposure that may affected the health of local residents.
Asbestos is toxic and has been linked to respiratory illnesses like lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. A number of U.S. companies have known about the dangers associated with exposure to asbestos and have withheld withholding knowledge of existing exposures from employees or local residents.
In this case, the FBI’s verdict was clear: No evidence shows a conspiracy existed.
Investigators say that there was “no effort to hide, misrepresent or cover-up asbestos monitoring results.” The complaining party has officially lost this complaint.
Events Leading Up to the Investigation
In 2006, Lennar Corporation, a large construction company, began conducting grading work on the old Hunters Point shipyard site to prepare for construction of a city neighborhood on the property. This initial excavation made asbestos fibers go airborne from the soil.
News reports note that nearby residents then claimed to have nosebleeds, rashes and headaches.
The company refused to acknowledge the presence of a health risk and was fined $500,000 for “improperly calibrating asbestos monitoring equipment” in 2008.
In 2011, the environmental activist group Stop Lennar Action Movement, or SLAM, alleged a conspiracy and began the looking into it.
After uncovering over 2,000 e-mails obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the group believed evidence existed to show that construction company Lennar Corporation, the EPA and the city health department collectively conspired to withhold evidence of asbestos exposure risks at the Hunters Point shipyard.
This prompted the group to inform the FBI.
The investigation by the FBI officially began in August 2011, over a year after Lenar’s project was approved by the city of San Francisco.
Fast forward to April 27, 2012, the investigation has been completed and the FBI is satisfied with the evidence, or lack there of.
Investigators’ Closing Statements
In confirming the status of the investigation, the FBI expressed its confidence of its decision to close the case:
“no evidence that an EPA employee conspired with the (San Francisco Department of Public Health) and Lennar Corporation to conceal asbestos exposure at the … site,” a summary of the report, released earlier this month, states. The inspector general “recommended no further action and now considers this matter closed.”
At this point, SLAM, along with any other concerned groups or residents, will be forced to accept the FBI’s conclusion.
- Wildermuth, J. No conspiracy found in Hunters Point shipyard asbestos monitoring. City Insider. (2012 April 19). Retrieved from http://blog.sfgate.com/cityinsider/2012/04/19/no-conspiracy-found-in-hunters-point-shipyard-asbestos-monitoring/