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Saturday, September 23, 2000

Pearl Harbor
safety test data
may be phony

One lab allegedly rigged tests,
but a Navy official here says
further tests were done
by a reliable lab

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Environmental safety testing at the Navy's Superfund cleanup site at Pearl Harbor was performed by a Texas laboratory, where former employees have told federal investigators that work performed from 1994 to 1997 was falsified.

But Don Rochon, spokesman for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command's Pacific Division, said the Texas company was only used as part of a preliminary analysis process to test the soil for petroleum-based pollutants and later tests were done by a different laboratory.

At another Oahu Superfund cleanup site, Army officials said they never used the Texas company at Schofield Barracks, which was given a clean bill of health earlier this summer.

Four Schofield Barracks wells with contaminated drinking water were taken off the cleanup list in June.

Thirteen employees of the London-based company, Intertek Testing Services, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Dallas on Thursday and charged with up to 30 counts of fraud and lying.

The 13 worked for Intertek subsidiary, Environmental Laboratories, in Richardson, Texas. Similar problems were believed to have existed at the subsidiary's other laboratory in Houston.

Intertek tests soil, water and air samples for carcinogens and other pollutants for environmental consulting and engineering firms and for the federal and state governments.

Rochon said the Texas company conducted soil tests after two large underground petroleum and diesel storage tanks were removed from the Navy's Public Works Center gas station located near Pearl Harbor's Halawa gate. The Texas company was used in 1997 to determine alternatives, Rochon said.

"We have continuously monitored the site from our field extraction wells and the data is sent quarterly to other laboratories," Rochon said.

But Rochon pointed out that the Navy didn't have control over the situation since Intertek had been a subcontractor of IT Group, a Pennsylvania-based firm hired to do the analysis.

"We are a victim of this as much as anyone else, and we are outraged," Rochon said.

The government maintains the fraud occurred from January 1994 to December 1997 and included projects from Superfund sites and military facilities.

A Health Department spokeswoman said the agency's records for 1994-97 show the state did use the Texas company.

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