EPA ordered to hire back fired 9/11 whistleblower

Chemist warned of dust's danger to first responders' lungs

May 9, 2012
KEYWORDS agency / dust / health / jenkins / whitman
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+

EPAAn EPA scientist who was fired after accusing the agency of covering up caustic dust hazards at Ground Zero will get her job back, under a recent order by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

Cate Jenkins, a chemist who has spent more than 30 decades at the EPA, was the first agency official to raise concerns about dust with dangerously high pH levels at the ruins of the World Trade Center.

As many as two-thirds of those who worked at the scene -- many without respirators -- suffered permant lung damage, including chemical burns. Health experts say many of the health effects suffered by first responders could have been prevented if workers were issued appropriate safety gear.

The federal court ordered Jenkins reinstated with back pay.

Former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman assurred New Yorkers that the air near Ground Zero was safe after 9/11. Testifying at a Congressional hearing in 2007, Whitman denied that there had been a deliberate attempt to cover up health risks at the site. Whitman said that her agency had issued warning to workers on the debris pile to wear protective equipment, but that her agency had no ability or authority to enforce that requirement. At that time,Whitman said evidence linking the dust to disease was inconclusive.

Jenkins told the Congressional Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health that the EPA was deliberately concealing the dangers. She requested an investigation into the falsification of pH corrosivity date for World Trade Center dust.

"This corrosivity is attributed to be one of the causative agents in current respiratory disabilities and/or deaths of first responders, recovery workers, laborers, residents, and office workers," wrote Jenkins in an official complaint. "Corrosive dusts would also have facilitated the entry into the body via the respiratory system of other toxic substances found in WTC emissions."

Jenkins was allegedly harrassed by her superiors and then terminated in 2010 after being accused of physically threatening her supervisor. Jenkins is a polio survivor with a smallstature. Her male supervisor is over six feet tall.

In its decision, the MSPB said Jenkins had been wrongly denied her right to due process on a number of counts.

The 9/11 controversy is not the first time Jenkins has gone up against her employer. In the 1990s, she was transferred out of her position after accusing Monsanto of falsifying a study on the cancer risk from exposure to Agent Orange. An administrative judge later ruled she had been wrongly transferred.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Scenes from the World of Safety

Sights, signs & symbols from the National Safety Congress & Expo held in San Diego, CA, September 15-18

11/4/14 2:00 pm EST

Eye Injuries: You rarely see them coming. Practical Solutions for reducing injuries to the eye.

The 3M Eye Injury Reduction webinar will provide an examination of how to help solve eye injuries in the workplace. This issue continues to challenge virtually every industry, and the solution is often times multifaceted. 3M will share some new tools and approaches to help you in solving this issue.

ISHN Magazine

ISHN1014_cover.jpg

2014 October

This issue features articles about PPE safety and OSHA standards

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - SEPTEMBER 2014

ISHN FDO SEPTEMBER 2014For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THE SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.