for immediate release: Tuesday, March 26, 1996
FIRED CHEMICAL WEAPONS CHIEF SAFETY MANAGER TESTIFIES TOOELE CONTRACTOR ORDERED, "DON'T PUT ANYTHING NEGATIVE ABOUT THIS PLANT IN WRITING."
SALT LAKE CITY: MARCH 26, 1995--The former Chief Safety Officer at the U.S.
Army's Tooele, Utah, chemical weapons incinerator, Steve Jones, testified today that the
Army's contractor, EG&G Defense Materials, Inc. repeatedly tried to block his efforts to
report and address environmental, health and safety hazards at that facility.
In sworn testimony in a whistleblower protection hearing Jones said the following.
* On his first day on the job at Tooele, Henry Silvestri, EG&G's General Manager, told
Jones to never contact government personnel from any other agency about conditions at the
plant. Silvestri also demanded that Jones bar Tooele Army Depot staff from entering the
* Responding to a comprehensive "internal audit" compiled by Jones documenting
thousands of problems at Tooele Silvestri became extremely angry and ordered, "don't put
anything negative about this plant in writing." EG&G now claims it can not find a copy of
Jones' audit report, but a summary listing 15 program areas which Jones said failed safety
inspections was entered into evidence.
* EG&G supervisors repeatedly criticized Jones for not being a "team player" and told him
his mission was "keeping the customer-the Army's Program Manager for Chemical
* Within his first two weeks at Tooele, Jones found the plant had no emergency response
plan for its current operations and lacked the required analysis for a maximum credible
event, the most plausible catastrophic accident.
Documents entered into evidence over the objections of EG&G lawyers show that
government inspections at Tooele, months after Jones was fired, found that many of the
problems still existed. Jones claims he was fired for pursuing these problems, an activity
that is protected under several federal environmental laws including the Toxics Substance
Control Act. His termination came the day after he refused to certify that the plant was
safe, despite a sub-contractor's report that found 3016 hazards at the plant including more
than 150 that could cause "imminent and catastrophic" risks of explosion or agent release.
Also on Tuesday, two expert witnesses testified regarding Jones' record as a Safety
Manager in positions before taking the job with EG&G. Captain John Pickering, who
currently commands the Long Beach Naval Shipyard in California, said that Jones was the
best Safety Officer he had supervised during 29 years of service, praising him for "a
professional, focused, 'no nonsense,' managerial style." Jones won unprecedented back-
to-back Safety Achievement Awards for his work under Captain Pickering at a U.S. Navy
repair facility in Japan.
George Cook, a career military safety inspector, who had previously worked for Jones,
praised him as an "outstanding Safety Manager." Cook indicated that he was eager to work
under Jones again, even visiting Tooele while Jones was employed there to assess
In Wednesday's session, which begins at 9:00 A.M. (MST), Jones is expected to finish his
direct testimony and then face cross-examination from the lawyers for EG&G. When
Jones leaves the witness stand, his lawyers will question representatives from EG&G,
including Henry Silvestri, the former General Manager who fired him.
Jones is represented by Richard Condit and Joanne Royce of the Government
Accountability Project (GAP), a non-profit whistleblower defense organization, and by
John Preston Creer, a prominent Utah attorney.
Copies of Jones' whistleblower protection complaint and documents about the case
available on request.
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