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  • River Valley probe still has problems

    Saturday, January 08, 2000

    The River Valley Schools environmental investigation in Marion, Ohio, now carries the onus of having the first two whistle-blowers in the history of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Bruce Dunlavy, third in command at the Bowling Green district office, is seeking whistle-blower protection in the wake of his support of Paul Jayko ("EPA supervisor requests whistle-blower status'').

    Jayko was the original whistle-blower who was removed from his job as site coordinator at River Valley. He was a shining example of what an EPA employee should be. Once toxic chemicals were found on the River Valley campus and a leukemia cluster had been identified by the Ohio Department of Health, Jayko wanted to use science as a guide and do the comprehensive studies that would assure that the students were safe. Others were saying, "We will never know what caused the leukemia cases at River Valley.''

    They declared, "It is safe at River Valley'' before the testing had even begun. They allowed political pressure to reign. Jayko has sacrificed much and continues to pay for his integrity and professionalism. He won his first case with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The Ohio EPA has appealed, and the decision is pending.

    As an Ohio resident, a River Valley graduate, taxpayer, geologist and a member of Concerned River Valley Families, I have been involved in this investigation since the beginning. When Paul Jayko was removed, my group was insistent that he be reinstated.

    Former Ohio EPA Director Donald Schregardus assured my group in a July 10, 1998, letter that "politics played no role in the reassignment of Mr. Jayko. . . . The quality of Ohio EPA's Marion investigation is of utmost importance and will not be adversely affected by the reassignment of this employee from the investigation team.''

    The adverse affects are glaringly obvious. Carol Hester of the Ohio EPA was quoted in a recent Dispatch article as saying, "The fallout from the Marion investigation has taken its toll on the agency.''

    The Concerned River Valley Families group implores Gov. Bob Taft to speak with us. Problems continue to plague the investigation and will continue unless we understand what went wrong.

    Mike Griffith
    Caledonia, Ohio


    Copyright © 2000, The Columbus Dispatch