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Response to Jayko v. Ohio EPA decision
Marilyn Wall
Ohio Chapter Sierra Club and Rivers Unlimited

       

October 5, 2000

Not only has the federal court judge found that Ohio EPA violated employee protective provisions of seven environmental laws, the judge documented, over and over again, a tremendous scandal at Ohio EPA.

Paul Jayko was the site investigator for 3 sites including the former Marion Army Depot. He worked diligently to thoroughly investigate and analyze the contamination, potential for contamination and risk to students and individuals at River Valley Schools.

Over and over again, Paul Jayko tried to conduct a thorough investigation and was thwarted by the management at Ohio EPA who ultimately removed him from his job. Jayko followed the stated directive of then Governor Voinovich, 'to leave no stone unturned' in the investigation. But Ohio EPA did not conduct the necessary tests, eliminated tests, failed to keep the public informed.

Ohio EPA management criticized Mr. Jayko for having 'committed something to writing .. that they did not want memorialized' 'making them look foolish, making them loook like they didn't know what they were don't .. and weren't doint the job they were supposed to do.'

Furthermore, Mr. Jayko was excluded from meetings, not given information and excluding from planning by the agency. The agency formed a separate team to work on 'expectations that …[the agency] has on intended outcomes and meeting expected recommendations… and providing reasonable assurances to the citizens … that there was nothing in the environment which was detrimental to their health as their end goal, and informing them that they may never be able to find a cause and effect relationship between leukemias and something in the environment.'

In an Ohio EPA memo, Mr. Steers stated 'The team has been instructed to work closely with ODH in seeking out information which can allow us to conclude that the existing 'environmental conditions in the local community(s) do not pose a threat to human health.'

Further, Ohio EPA management stated 'Don Schregardus said he wants us to be very aggressive in telling reporters there is no evidence linking the sites to leukemia.'

In other words, Ohio EPA worked to avoid knowing about contamination, thoroughly investigating the site and sought only to show that there was no problem, no threat or risk to the public. Ohio EPA, even without data to support their claim, claimed to the public that there was no risk.

The judge states, 'I am unable to credit a statement this early in the investigation that represents that, 'there is nothing in the current environment that is causing a threat to human health', when all testing for both present and past causes of leukemia have not been exhausted and finally determined not to exist, and that such a statement to the public would constitute a misrepresentation of possible threats to human health that might be found to be present in tests yet to be performed.'

The judge goes on 'More importantly, this leads me to discredit the entire policy of the OEPA management as such a misrepresentation of the Marion investigation.'