Regulators, Lennar did not collude on downgrading Hunters Point health risks, report finds 

Collusion did not exist between regulators and the regulated over the Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment project, according to the results of an internal investigation by the Department of Public Health.

In March, more than 2,000 emails were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and released by activist group POWER. The group said the emails convincingly showed regulators from the health department and the EPA were working with developer Lennar to downgrade health risks posed by the toxic site.

Lennar has been cleared by city agencies to build more than 10,000 new homes at the shuttered U.S. Navy base.

“It is normal, necessary and common practice for regulators and the regulated parties to communicate directly,” the health department responded in a retort to a recent Civil Grand Jury report questioning the events leading up to the development’s approval.

In one of the emails, David Rizzolo, the asbestos program manager for the health department, wrote to colleagues that more information about the health risks might not be good for the process and might cause public outrage.

“It seems to me that the available facts are on our side, so we should stay away from trying to create more data,” Rizzolo wrote. “More data might not help us. We can talk more about this directly.”

At the time, Lennar Urban president Kofi Bonner said data was not altered to cover up the health risks posed by the toxic waste, which the company intends to cap or remove on behalf of the Navy when a plan for the cleanup is approved.

In its response, the health department also refuted the Civil Grand Jury’s contentions that the public was not being kept abreast in general of new information on the development.

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Dan Schreiber

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