HERMISTON The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has modified the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (UMCDF) Hazardous Waste Storage and Treatment Permit to incorporate conditions for employee whistleblower protections.
On July 26, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Michael H. Marcus directed DEQ to add the protections to the permit.
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission is scheduled to vote today on whether to allow incineration of chemical agent at the UMCDF to start later this summer.
The new permit conditions require UMCDF to have a program in place to prominently advise workers of their obligation to report good-faith concerns regarding the safety of workers, the public, or the environment as well as related noncompliance with permit and regulatory requirements, and to convey such concerns to the DEQ if those concerns are not otherwise sufficiently resolved.
The permittees (the U.S. Army's Program Manager for Elimination of Chemical Weapons and the Washington Demilitarization Company and its contractors) must provide an annual certification that the identified program is still in place and that all training for employees has been kept current. The permittees will also be required to assure all workers they will not be disadvantaged in any way by communicating such concerns in good faith.
The training program is outlined in a permit modification request submitted by the permittees and currently under consideration by DEQ.
For more information or to obtain a copy of the permit modification request, contact Shelly Ingram, Umatilla Chemical Demilitarization Program, Hermiston, at (541) 567-8297, ext. 25.