A warning to whistleblowers

The July 1, 2013 Washington Spectator covers alarming facts about the ongoing dangers of the BP Gulf oil spill. I suspect that most of us haven’t paid any attention to it in quite a while.

An editorial, “Whistleblowing and Its Risks,” by Hugh Kaufman, an EPA Senior Policy Analyst, who has himself been a whistleblower within his own agency, conveys a specific warning to potential whistleblowers. Here’s a pertinent, angering excerpt that, I can only hope, has led to a lawsuit:

Take, for example, the basic issue of protecting first responders. Everybody in government and industry has known for decades that if there is an air-pollution risk at a worksite, chemical fire, or other environmental catastrophe, first responders and workers are required to wear respirators or self-contained breathing apparatuses—not paper masks, or nothing—to protect their lungs.

Yet in every environmental case I have “blown the whistle” on over 35-plus years—9/11 Ground Zero, the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, the BP Gulf Oil Spill, etc.—the government and affected special interests did not want first responders, workers, and “clean-up” personnel to wear protective equipment.

Why? Because videos and photographs of workers in respirators would spread the word to the public that there is a big health risk, which could end up costing the special interests involved big money in damages.

What happened, for example, three years ago to workers cleaning up the BP Gulf Oil spill when they blew the whistle on supervisors who were ordering them not to wear respirators?

They were fired.

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