US Navy Contractor
Poisons Bremerton

This page is about a US Navy contractor that dumped many tons of lead and other toxic elements on the community where I live. It is about one worker, who is my neighbor and friend, who was tormented and threatened for complaining about his own exposure. It is about the US Navy, OSHA, EPA, and other authorities not protecting the environment. It is about tolerating workplace violence on Federal property. It is about the workers and citizens of the City of Bremerton and Kitsap County being poisoned and exposed to toxic waste without public disclosure. It is about the Navy contracting out hazardous environmental work within a public shipyard to a lame contractor and passing the blame for very serious problems to the company. It is about the EPA taking years to process a complaint that allowed the contractor and individuals time to effectively disappear and not pay for their crimes.

 

The incidences and events occurred during a repainting project of the Hammerhead Crane that is a famous landmark located in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Some workers received very high doses of lead poisoning. The lead dirt and dust was even brought home on their work clothes and showed up in blood level tests of their children. Per recent studies, one of the children had a lead level high enough to reduce IQ by 10 points. 

 

Judge rules against the contractor: In August of 1998, Associate Chief Administrative Law Judge Thomas M. Burke held a hearing on the complaint.  Even though a significant legal judgment was made against the company, there has been no remedy or justice because the company is out of business.  Links to the decision are below.

 

 

U.S. Department of Labor Links  - posted on June 19, 2001

  1. Ferguson v. Weststar, Inc., 1998-CAA-00009 (ALJ Jan. 27, 2000)  - recommended decision and order

  2. Ferguson v. Weststar, Inc., 1998-CAA-00009 (ALJ June 21, 2000) - supplemental decision and order approving a representative's fee

or on my server at

  1. Ferguson v. Weststar, Inc., 1998-CAA-9 (ALJ Jan. 27, 2000) - recommended decision and order

  2. Ferguson v. Weststar, Inc., 1998-CAA-9 (ALJ June 21, 2000) - supplemental decision and order approving a representative's fee

Judge Thomas M. Burke heard the case on August 18 and 19, 1999, in Seattle, Washington. This decision was made over 17 months later on January 27, 2000. The worker was awarded $23,925 plus $5,361.12 in attorney fees, but he has yet to receive any money. In a letter dated November 14, 2000, the company informed the worker's lawyer that all of the company's assets were turned over to a bank and they were out of business as of September 30, 2000.

This is my complaint: The Navy took no legal action against the contractor and work staff that tormented and threatened their own worker with acts of violence and harassment. The content of the judge's decision shows the Navy's ROICC Officer "resident officer in charge of construction" knew about the incident.

The Shipyard Commander's Office knew about the incident. On the day of the last incident, two high-ranking officers from the Shipyard Commander's Office discussed the incident with the worker, his father, and me. We were told that even when construction is within the shipyard it is not under the Shipyard Commander's authority.  

In my opinion, the Navy, as the owner of the toxic waste (lead in this case), along with the contractor, are  jointly and severally legally responsible in accordance with federal and state laws. These incidents continue simply because related laws are not enforced and responsible parties are not prosecuted. 

This is far more than a whistleblower case because it also involves workplace violence...
 A worker (up 150 feet in the Hammerhead Crane) was called a "nark", threatened with a box knife, and told he should have his throat cut.

Please call or email me if you have any comments or suggestions.
Bob Farmer (360) 373-5136  Email -  robert.farmer@comcast.net

The original paint that was sandblasted from the crane contained 27% lead. The resulting sandblasted grit residue spread lead throughout the environment during the work process. Some of the workers were reported by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries SHARP program to have lead blood levels as high as 66. 

When I reported this problem to the local Congressman Norm Dicks' Office, I was told, "that without complaints from the affected individual workers nothing can be done."  The privacy of the individuals seems to prevail over the rights of the citizens in the community to know. I have a problem with this because many of the citizens that live and work in the City of Bremerton and Kitsap County may also have been exposed to the lead pollution from this project. It is a very serious public health issue and the public has the right to know. There are schools, offices, restaurants, public transportation systems, including the Washington State Ferries, within a short distance of the Navy Yard. The air, water and soil have been contaminated from this project to homes in my neighborhood - more than three miles away.

I have emailed complaints to Washington State and Federal government officials including the EPA. I requested  the scope of the problem be made public. Lead can cause brain damage, male and female reproductive health problems, etc. It is a very serous environmental problem. It is so serious that the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has issued several bulletins about the hazards of lead.

These are responses to my complaints: 

 

This incident received no press or public disclosure except for the publication of the Judge Thomas M. Burke decision in January 2000. It is a cover-up and a dangerous secret. It is a threat to the health of civilian and military workers in the Navy Yard and of children and students in nearby homes, schools, and college. It is also harmful to the economic development of Bremerton and Kitsap County.

Note: On June 15, 2010 he lost an ECAB appeal for lymphoma.


Links

Federal EPA

Every American has the right to know the chemicals to which they may be exposed in their daily living. Only through knowledge of their chemical exposure can citizens act in the interest of a healthy lifestyle and a clean and healthy environment for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Whom to do you notify and how to be prepared in case of an environmental emergency. To report oil and chemical spills, call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802. I sent an email alert to the Webmaster of this site on October 15, 1997.  This was the response:

"Your request has been forwarded to the OPPT Library. They will be responding to you directly."

John A. Richards

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service


I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Bob Farmer
Email -  robert.farmer@comcast.net
Homepage - http://oc.itgo.com

Last Updated on 09/04/10