River worker alleges illegal oil discharge in termination suit

Ann Knef Jun. 18, 2008, 2:13am

A former employee of American River Transporation Co. and Archer-Daniels-Midland claims his employment was terminated in retaliation for reporting that oil was being discharged into sewers and the Mississippi River.

Steven Howland, who had been employed from Jan. 22, 2004, until June 22, 2007, claims he was told to "mind your own business" regarding alleged violations of state and federal laws at defendants' South Terminal in St. Louis.

"While working for defendants, plaintiff became aware that the defendants on more than one occasion intentionally pumped waste oil from defendants' holding tanks into sewers which flowed directly into a section of the Mississippi River...," the complaint states.

He claims he told a co-worker about the situation and "was told by the co-worker that defendants' supervisor...had instructed the co-worker to pump oil from the holding tanks into the sewers," the complaint states.

Howland claims he showed a terminal manager the oil in the sewers on June 19, 2007. He claims the terminal manager asked him what he would say to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency if they were to interview him.

"Plaintiff indicated to the terminal manager that he would truthfully disclose said information to the Coast Guard and/or EPA because being untruthful in statements to the Coast Guard/EPA would be a violation of law," the complaint states.

According to the complaint, Howland was phoned at home before coming to work on June 22, 2007, informing him that his employment was terminated immediately.

Represented by Lee W. Barron of Alton, Howland is seeking reinstatement, lost wages and benefits, compensatory damages in excess of $50,000 and punitive damages.

"Defendants' conduct in terminating plaintiff's employment in retaliation for his reporting the illegal pumping of waste oil into the sewers and the Mississippi River, in retaliation for reporting the defendants' illegal and serious misconduct, and in retaliation for plaintiff's statement of intent to speak truthfully with certain federal agencies, is so egregious and outrageous so as to justify and demand the imposition of significant punitive damages," the complaint states.

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Organizations in this Story

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20460

Archer Daniels Midland
77 W Upper Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60601

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