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Chemical Weapons Working Group
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for further information contact:
Craig Williams: (606) 986-7565
Joanne Royce: (202) 408-0034x131
Steve Jones: (501) 350-5092
for immediate release: Friday, October 2, 1998
CHEMICAL WEAPONS INCINERATOR WHISTLEBLOWER WINS EG&G's APPEAL; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW BOARD AWARDS STEVE JONES HIS JOB BACK AT THE FACILITY, BACK PAY AND COMPENSATORY DAMAGES
Steve Jones, former Chief Safety Officer at the Army's Tooele, Utah chemical weapons incinerator, was vindicated yet again when the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) Administrative Review Board in Washington D.C. upheld the lower court Judge's decision that Jones had been illegally fired by EG&G Defense Materials Inc. for raising safety violations at the plant.
EG&G appealed the earlier ruling claiming the Judge was incorrect in her determination that Jones was fired for engaging in protected activities under federal environmental laws. However, the Review Board agreed with every finding of the lower court stating, "We find that Jones was fired in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the environmental acts," and that "The record shows that these protected activities formed the primary motivation in EG&G's final decision to discharge him."
The DoL Review Board noted in their decision that, "Like nuclear plants, chemical agent incinerators have a great potential of harming the public in the event of a serious accident or defect."
Former Government Accountability Project (GAP) attorney who represents Jones, Richard Condit, said, "We need to remember that Jones was fired for raising safety and environmental issues put in place to protect workers and the public. The EPA should take swift action to investigate the allegations made by Jones, which have never been adequately addressed as well as much more recent incidents at the facility."
Prior to being fired by EG&G, Jones had a long and well-respected career in safety. Jones was an officer in the Air Force, where he got a Masters degree in safety, received several commendations while a safety officer in the Navy and was a working at the Army Inspector Generals Office inspecting nuclear and chemical depots prior to going to work for EG&G.
Since the Jones firing there have been several similar cases of retaliation against employees at the Tooele plant that have resulted in DOL rulings against EG&G or settlements by EG&G with workers. GAP attorney Joanne Royce, who also represents Jones, said, "EG&G has a dismal record on whistleblower retaliation and the Army should reconsider its contract with them based on their history of illegal activity."
Naturally, Jones was pleased with the ruling. "This ruling proves once and for all that I was acting in the highest standards of the profession I was trained in for twenty years," he said. "But most of all it proves that I was acting in the best interest of protecting the workers at the plant and the public. I feel justice has finally been served," he said.
Responding to reinstatement at the Tooele incineration facility Jones said, "This is a great opportunity to take a good hard look at this facility to ensure its being operated safely."
"Steve Jones is a hero," said Craig Williams, spokesperson for the Chemical Weapons Working Group, a national organization advocating alternative disposal methods to the Army's incineration approach. "Along with everything else, Jones should get no less than a public apology from the Army and EG&G for their attacking his character and performance during the period he was fired," said Williams. "He risked everything in the interest of doing the right thing for the good of his fellow workers and the citizens of Utah. Governor Leavitt should give him a medal."
A copy of the DOL Review Boards Decision is available from the GAP or CWWG offices.
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