CHEMICAL WEAPONS WORKING GROUP
P.O. Box 467
Berea, KY 40403
606-986-7565 606-986-2695 fax
for more information contact: Craig Williams
for immediate release Wednesday, March 31, 1999
WHISTLEBLOWER, STEVE JONES, WILL RETURN AS CHIEF SAFETY
MANAGER AT UTAH CHEMICAL WEAPONS INCINERATOR
In what citizens groups are calling "a losing last ditch effort," EG&G Defense Materials, Inc. was denied a motion by a federal appeals court seeking to block the reinstatement of Steve Jones as Chief Safety Officer at the Tooele, Utah chemical weapons incinerator.
The U.S. 10th Circuit Court's ruling is the latest victory for Jones who filed a whistleblower complaint with the Department of Labor (DoL) after he was fired four and a half years ago for raising safety and environmental issues at the Army's incinerator. In three successive rulings the DoL ordered EG&G to give Jones his job back along with financial compensation for income lost due to being illegally fired.
Although EG&G's administrative appeals of those decisions have kept Jones from returning to the Tooele plant, the federal appeals court has now ruled that EG&G must reinstate Jones while the company continues its long drawn out legal battle.
Craig Williams, the CWWG national spokesperson said, "We're all very pleased for Steve Jones, but what is remarkable is EG&G still contends they did no wrong after four consecutive decisions against them. They are still planning to appeal this ruling. It can't help but make you wonder how candid they are being concerning other allegations leveled at their facility."
Some details must still be worked out about the amount EG&G must reimburse Jones for his back pay, but it appears Jones will be back at the job within a month or so. Jones said he is, "excited to be going back to work." He said, "The courts have ruled my way consistently and I am anxious to resume my duties and continue the job I set out to do which is to ensure the facility is safe and in compliance with the law."
EG&G has contended in its appeals that Jones' public appearances and participation as an expert witness in lawsuits by the Chemical Weapons Working Group (CWWG) against EG&G would render his reinstatement impractical. However, the DoL Administrative Review Board called this contention "troubling" and stated, "Jones' participation in a lawsuit concerning the environmental dangers of the disposal facility is exactly the type of activity that the environmental acts protect."
Since Jones' firing there have been a continuing stream of whistleblowers at the Tooele facility including the former General Manager and the Chief of Hazardous Waste Management. EG&G has either settled with or is engaged in defending their actions in all such cases that have been made public. "Who knows how many people they've fired who were afraid to come forward or didn't understand their rights," said Williams.
"Steve Jones has consistently spoken out for honesty and safety at the Tooele plant. Although being back will be extremely stressful for him given EG&G's strong opposition to his return, it is in the best interests of the public and the environment that he be reinstated," concluded Williams.
CWWG Home Page