for immediate release: Tuesday August 5, 1997
TOOELE CHEMICAL WEAPONS INCINERATOR WHISTLE
BLOWER VINDICATED; U.S. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE
ORDERS ARMY'S CONTRACTOR TO REHIRE STEVE JONES
OR PAY MILLION DOLLAR DAMAGES; FINDS SAFETY
INSPECTOR WAS FIRED FOR ENFORCING
A U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge has ordered
EG&G, the contractor at the U.S. Army's Tooele, Utah, chemical
weapons incinerator, to rehire former Safety Manager Steven Jones who
had filed a complaint charging that he was fired for trying to enforce
federal environmental laws at the controversial facility.
Judge Ellin M. O'Shea also ordered EG&G to pay Jones his full back
salary since the date of his termination, another two hundred thousand
dollars for his family's economic losses and suffering, and punitive
damages. If EG&G refuses to reinstate Jones, the company must pay
him an additional half million dollars.
Jones was fired on September 14, 1994, the day after he refused to sign a
certification that 3,016 identified hazards at the incinerator, including
over 1,000 deficiencies presenting an "imminent, catastrophic risk or
explosion or agent release," constituted an "acceptable" operational risk.
A letter from EG&G claimed his removal was "for the convenience of the
In a 141-page, single-spaced review of the case, Judge O'Shea found that
Jones was illegally fired, concluding that "the legitimate business reason
EG&G presents [for his termination] is based on a lie." She also
strongly criticized nearly every senior EG&G witness writing, for
example, "Some of [Tooele General Manager Henry] Silvestri's
representations give pause as to credibility..." and that Jones' successor
as Safety manager, Mike Hampton "was not a credible or reliable
witness." O'Shea also criticized the Army, noting that Tooele is
"uniquely and solely controlled by and subject to [the] military."
The decision came in response to a complaint filed for Jones by the
Government Accountability Project (GAP), a non-profit whistle blower
protection law firm, under the provisions of several federal laws which
protect employees who report environmental violations. According to
GAP lawyer Joanne Royce, "Steve Jones lost his job for telling the truth
and trying to protect the public. We hope EG&G does nothing further to
stop justice from being administered." Salt Lake City attorney John
Preston Creer and GAP attorney Richard Condit also represented Jones.
Jones said, "I want my job back because I know from reviewing the
documents and talking to plant workers that Tooele is still operating
unsafely and endangering the citizens of Utah. The same circumstances
that created the Bhopal and Chernobyl disasters exist at the Army's
chemical weapons incinerator."
Craig Williams, national spokesman for the Chemical Weapons Working
Group, a national coalition of organizations working for alternatives to
incineration which had supported Jones, added, "This overwhelming
victory for Steve Jones demonstrates once again that the Army's Tooele
facility and others being built on the same model are threats to human
health and the environment. The Army is responsible for this facility and
has rewarded the contractor for their behavior, paying EG&G award fees
for maintaining schedule over safety. The illegal firing of Jones could not
have happened without Army approval and they can no longer hide from
their responsibility. It's time President Clinton and the Congress stop
the Pentagon's dangerous incineration program."
A former naval safety manager, Jones won two awards from the Secretary
of the Navy for having the best safety program in that service. He also
worked for the Army Inspector General's office for three years and the
Army Materials Command at the Pentagon for two years before joining
A copy of Jones' original, eight-page whistle blower complaint and the
DoL Recommended Order are available on request. A briefing kit about
the environmental risks of the U.S. chemical weapons incineration
program is also available.
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