A former manager of a water treatment plant is suing the city of Apopka, Florida, in federal court, alleging he was terminated as punishment for raising concerns about poor working conditions at the plant and conditions that threaten public health and safety.
Whistleblower Glen Brooks, who worked at the Apopka water treatment plant for 14 years before he was fired in September, says the city’s newly elected mayor in 2014 conspired with three other city officials to “cover up and violate the law as to the illegal conduct and unsafe conditions” at the plant.
The complaint also claims the same officials falsely accused Mr. Brooks of lying – an accusation the city officials used as the premise for his termination.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, “Brooks repeatedly warned his Apopka supervisors of illegal contamination and permit violations at the wastewater treatment plant …” He also claimed that the conditions “posed physical and psychological damage to employees working at the plant and posed a threat to public health and safety,” the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Continual problems at the plant also forced the city to stop accepting wastewater from Anuvia Plant Nutrients, a fertilizer company that opened a $100 million manufacturing facility in Apopka with assurances from the city that it could process the company’s discharged wastewater. The freeze on accepting more wastewater forced the manufacturing facility to temporarily shut down its operations while it found alternative means.
In December, a Florida Department of Environmental Protection inspection of the plant found more than a dozen violations. Consultants hired by the city the following month to inspect the plant noted problems in operations, maintenance, management, and administration, the Sentinel reported.
Mr. Brooks’ lawsuit seeks back pay, unspecified damages for his termination and for defamation, and legal expenses.
Source: Orlando Sentinel