Inspector commits "career suicide'

  Steve Jones' 20-year career in federal safety inspection may be over. He was fired Sept. 14 by the contractor that is building and operating a chemical weapons incinerator at Utah's Tooele Army Depot. Jones says he's spent a frustrating three months trying to track down safety violations there. Now Jones is commiting what he calls "career suicide" to publicize the dangers. More than 500 safety violations have been identified at the facility, Jones says, including the release of hazardous chemicals that put workers in immediate danger (see essay page 15). But when he outlined safety problems in writing to the contractor, EG&G; Defense Materials, Jones says he was sternly reprimanded and told never to put anything negative in writing. "The impression I was given was that my job was to keep inspectors from other agencies away," he says. The Army and EG&G; say Jones is a "disgruntled" employee who was "volatile" and "uninformed." However, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt's science advisor, Suzanne Winters, has promised Jones hearings before the Citizens' Advisory Board, which is charged with monitoring the incinerator and protecting whistle blowers, and the state's Science Board.

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