Boiling Frogs-Intel vs. the Village

"Boiling Frogs - Intel vs. the Village" recounts the story of Intel Rio Rancho's impact on the air and water in the Village of Corrales from the mid-1980s to the present day. Updates to this ongoing saga will be posted here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Third Whistleblower Comes Forward

Following is an except from an article in the Corrales Comment about the Agency for Toxic Substance Disease Registry (ATSDR) meetings held in Corrales and Rio Rancho in November 2007 to report to the public regarding its two-year study of Intel in the area:

At the Rio Rancho session, a third former Intel employee spoke out about exposures to toxins from the Rio Rancho plant.

Patrick Callahan, who said he was harassed into resigning from Intel in 2005 after persistently complaining about safety concerns, claimed Intel officials in Rio Rancho have falsified documents about chemical exposures.

"I actually worked at Intel for 18 years," Callahan said. "I was exposed to arsenic and I don't know how many chemicals for 25 years, 18 of which were at Intel, and I survived chronic liver disease.

"I have a small son, which is why I'm here: I'm concerned about the community."

Callahan said he was forced to resign in 2005 because he complained about chemical safety issues and failures to take corrective measures. He said he instituted a legal action against Intel which resulted in a monetary settlement.

"I have seen them falsify safety reports when I worked there. I've been harassed by management over OSHA violations there. I went through so much hell with that company that I lost weight mysteriously.

"I went through liver biopsies, and every test known to man, and they couldn't figure it out. But six months after removing myself from working around [Intel] solvents and chemicals, I felt fine.

"All these years when I was working at Intel, and reading about people feeling sick in Corrales, I was always thinking, 'yeah, that's public knowledge, but what about the workers in the plant? We're breathing ten times the chemicals that anyone living close to Intel in Corrales or Rio Rancho is breathing.'

"You know, I did that job for 25 years, so I understand the chemicals Intel is using, I understand the safety procedures they put in place, and their capabilities, but also their finding ways to make a dollar.

"So I wanted to come forward and tell my story for the first time. Most people who work at Intel won't talk about it."

One of the ATSDR officials said she would like to speak to him in more detail after the meeting.

Later in the meeting, Callahan said his superiors would blame diesel trucks for certain heavy chemical odors at Intel. "I think they were coming from our [acid gas] scrubbers, but my supervisor said, 'Oh, it's just diesel trucks delivering materials...' It wasn't diesel trucks; I know what a diesel odor is. There are a lot of good engineers there, a lot of good people who will falsify documents to make them look good."

In a subsequent interview, Corrales Comment asked Callahan to be more explicit about his allegations of falsified documents. He referred to an incident in September 1995 when an industrial safety check list was filled in to show that "visible and audible alarms" were installed for an arsenic blasting room when they were not. "I uncovered the safety sign-off sheets that they had installed those alarms in the room, and they didn't."

In a similar vein, he said he worked in a robotic manufacturing room from 1998 to 2003 when contractors for Intel "were violating electrical safety" procedures. "I was told at that point, 'You should be happy you have a job and you should keep your mouth shut.' My Intel manager told me that."

He said he eventually became the team leader and certifier for control of hazardous energy for that robotics unit. He said he was aware of safety check documents that incorrectly indicated proper procedures were in place.

"My supervisor said to close the issue. So I took it to corporate safety, and after eight months of attempted meetings, they got everybody in a room and determined they were actually wrong and I was right, and they had to start labeling the [electrical] panels.

"After that, the inquisition started." Callahan said, referring to the alleged harassment that led to his resignation and initiation of legal action against Intel.

Additional allegations by Callahan and results of his exposure to Intel toxins will be published in a later issue [of the Corrales Comment].


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