Earle Dixon, a former employee of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, is testifying that he was fired for speaking out about dangers at a toxic waste site in Nevada. Dixon’s complaint seeks up to $1 million in damages as he prepares to go before an administrative law judge for the U.S. Labor Department.
As an employee of the BLM, Dixon was responsible for cleanup at the former Anaconda copper mine. The site, located on the edge of Yerington, is 65 miles south of Reno, Nevada. According to his claims, Dixon was fired after he began to spread the word about the severity of the problems at the site. These problems included previously undisclosed presence of uranium in the waste piles and ponds at a time when agencies and politicians were trying to hide these hazardous risks.
According to Dixon, BLM let him go because they were under pressure from local politicians and the mining industry, who feared Dixon’s warnings would lead to the site being designated a Superfund cleanup site. Dixon’s legal representatives feel that there was a desire to avoid documenting the level of contamination because it would have reflected badly on the state’s inaction over the years to protect residents and the environment from the harmful effects of toxic contaminants.
Also revealed in the evidence are notes that Dixon kept for his own records. In these notes were recorded conversations with BLM supervisors, officials at other federal agencies, and telephone calls with Interior Department lawyers. Along with these notes, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said that the mine in question is “a public health hazard” and was in need of more testing to determine the threat to nearby residents of this mining site.
The local residents have rallied in support of Earle Dixon, saying that he was the first to understand the need to inform workers and residents who may have been harmed on the toxic waste site.