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"60" has whistleblower

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  • Rob McGee
    60 has whistleblower posted by tvbarn on April 1, 2004 04:04 PM April 1, 2004 THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION COVERED UP ONE OF THE WORST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS IN
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      "60" has whistleblower
      posted by tvbarn on April 1, 2004 04:04 PM

      April 1, 2004

      THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION COVERED UP ONE OF THE WORST

      ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS IN U.S. HISTORY, SAYS A

      GOVERNMENT WHISTLE-BLOWER ON “60 MINUTES” SUNDAY

      A government whistle-blower says the Bush administration covered up the reasons for a toxic coal slurry spill in Appalachia that ranks among the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. Jack Spadaro tells Bob Simon that political appointees in the Department of Labor whitewashed the report that said an energy company that had contributed to the Republican Party was responsible for the 300-million gallon spill. Simon’s report will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday April 4 (7:00-8:00 P.M., ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

      Spadaro was until recently the head of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy and a mine safety official who played a key role in investigating the spill, which was 25 times the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. “It polluted 100 miles of streams, killing everything in the streams, all the way to the Ohio River,” says Spadaro of the October 2000 spill that affected West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. “The Bush administration came in and the scope of our investigation was considerably shortened,” he tells Simon. “I had never seen something so corrupt and lawless in my entire career…interference with a federal investigation of the most serious environmental disaster in the history of the Eastern United States.”

      Spadaro says his investigation found Massey Energy, the owner of the impoundment containing the viscous and toxic liquid, knew the containment was weak, and in fact, had leaked once before. The company was going to be cited for serious violations that could have resulted in large fines and criminal charges, Spadaro says. The Mine Safety and Health Administration, a division of D.O.L., was also going to be criticized for its failure to regulate Massey’s impoundment. But the M.S.H.A., the government body for which Spadaro was performing the investigation, curtailed his report, says Spadaro. “It appeared to me that [M.S.H.A.] thought we were getting too close to issuing serious violations to the mining company.”

      In the end, Massey was fined about $110,000 and cited for two violations, not the eight Spadaro said his report was seeking. Spadaro refused to sign the shortened report, despite the request of the new Bush-appointed head of M.S.H.A., and resigned from the investigation in protest. He then complained to the D.O.L, which rebuffed him, saying none of his allegations about Massey was substantiated.

      Spadaro was removed last year from his position as director of the academy, which trains mining inspectors; he says it was a reprisal for not going along with the whitewashed report and going public with his criticisms, including new charges of corruption in the M.S.H.A. The government claims Spadaro was removed because he was insubordinate and abused his authority, in addition to misusing a government credit card.

      M.S.H.A. recently announced they would give Spadaro a new job - away from his West Virginia home and at a significant pay cut. Spadaro says he intends to sue the government and is also in contact with the office of Special Counsel for Whistle-blower Protection.

      Massey Energy, the head of M.S.H.A. and the secretary of labor all declined to be interviewed for this report.

      ___________________________________________________________
      United States Mine Rescue Association
      www.usmra.com
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