A Whistleblower, Corruption, and Retaliation at the EPA

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo describes her efforts to get the government to investigate allegations that a U.S. multinational corporation was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of South Africans mining vanadium—a vital strategic mineral. When the EPA stonewalled, she blew the whistle. Her book No Fear: A Whistleblower's Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA chronicles the ways the corporation used to retaliate against her, why the EPA cost her her career, and her efforts to bring protection to all federal employees facing discrimination and retribution from the government.


Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

Comments [25]


A few minutes of this, and I shut it off. It seems like this person is just one of many these days in hot pursuit of the benefits of victimhood. And clearly she has gotten a lot from it - a successful lawsuit, a book deal, status as a celebrated victim. Why does WNYC so gladly provide a soapbox for so many of these individuals?

It is too bad because there probably is a serious issue here - the South African mining situation - but since when is it the work of the EPA to monitor what goes on in other nations?

Dec. 21 2011 11:21 AM
Liz from New Jersey from New Jerey

I reviewed the comments again and decided to tell Teco (4 notes), John from Office (4 notes), Dan, et al - get back to work and study hard - you need it. You sound like "honorary idiots" with "very thick skins," who have no clue about making statements such as the usual "nobody liked her, we need metal no matter how many die, and no sense of office humor." Dumb, dumb and dumber in NJ - visit your friends in Point Pleasant at the shore.

Dec. 07 2011 11:54 AM
liz f from New Jersey

This diatribe is a conversation by a few people. Some are just not in the real world and not very knowledgable. Step up and do something besides getting a paycheck, then let's see how you make out. As a white, I can tell you that racism, sexism, ageism and all the other isms are alive and well in the U.S. EPA is corrupt and in bed with big business. Dr. Adebayo and her story is only the tip of the iceberg. Some of you are either young WASPs, naive, or just out of it.

Dec. 07 2011 11:00 AM
jay from NJ

I've worked at EPA for over 16yrs...... I find this hard to believe, but maybe...I do not know. There are always a few idiots in every apple barrel. It sure does not reflect the vast majority of EPA personnel.

Something tells me that we only got about 50% of the truth. I think that there may be some sensitivity issues here too.

As for the mining issue, EPA workers take orders from political appointees, they (EPA workers) do not have all that much say in anything.

Dec. 06 2011 01:30 PM

Amy, she charged the agency with racism after that episode which may have been the reason Leonard brought it up. Did we hear the same interview? She was implying racism left and right. She seems to use it as a weapon.

Dec. 06 2011 01:16 PM
John A.

The Doctor probably should stick to the story of the Vanadium (only) as the justification for her book. To lead off with the joke does set people with office experience scratching their heads in doubt. BTW her Wikipedia page contains some possible criticism, though subtle it can be seen.

Dec. 06 2011 01:07 PM
Amy from Manhattan

teco: Dr. Coleman-Adebayo said herself that she thought her treatment when she tried to change practices at the vanadium mine was mostly due to her challenging the powers that be. Leonard listed racism & sexism among the possible reasons, but she didn't attribute it to those.

She also never said she thought the current South African govt. was saintly or transparent. The govt. at the time was already post-apartheid.

Dec. 06 2011 01:06 PM

Well, I worked for a huge government agency more recently and the agency I worked for was extremely careful not to discriminate against workers based on race or gender. The only "ism" that seems to be a problem with many government agencies these days is ageism. That is the one area where they are completely insensitive.

No one is disputing that racism is alive and well in 2011 but, just because one windbag says she has encountered it at every turn doesn't make it so. I did see evidence of racism in a private company I worked for before my government job and it was ugly to watch. This woman seems to use her race to forward her own agenda and that is why I find it offensive. Not all white people are up to no good and not all black people are saints yet that appears to be the way this woman sees the world

Dec. 06 2011 12:59 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Oh, good Lord. I usually ignore john from office, but just dismissing the deaths of mine workers because "maybe" we need the metal? Even if we do, mine conditions can be made safer. Nobody has to die for this.

Dec. 06 2011 12:54 PM
The Truth from Becky

Everyone knows, sex, race and politics are a no-no in an office setting. To call her "sensitive" or say she is "using" race, or just trying to profit displays an obvious lack of understanding and insensitivity.

Dec. 06 2011 12:50 PM
Amy from Manhattan

A statement like "honorary white man" *can* be OK if it's done in a self-deprecatory way (like acknowledging "yes, we recognize we're all white men here except you"), but only someone who was there to hear how it was said can tell that. The fact that Dr. Coleman-Adebayo & her co-worker both perceived it that way reinforces her viewpoint. So does her treatment during the rest of her employment there.

I worked for the EPA's Office of Noise Abatement & Control in the mid-'70s, & I didn't see this kind of thing, but 1) it was just 1 dept., 2) there weren't any senior personnel (if any at all!) who were black, & 3) the division chief seemed to have certain stereotypes about some women, but I'm glad to say that didn't filter down to the people who worked there--incl. a dept. head who'd come out of the construction industry.

Dec. 06 2011 12:50 PM
The Truth from Becky

My intent was to listen without comment but I am appalled but not surprised at how many of you refuse to believe that racism is still prevalent in 2011 almost 2012. Sorry to disappoint but it is!! Alive and well in the USA!

Dec. 06 2011 12:43 PM
john from office

Len, you are going sooo soft on her, because of her race.

She sounds like a windbag who is filled with herself.

She is sooo litigious, no one will hire her. Danny Glover, says it all.

Dec. 06 2011 12:37 PM

Not thrilled about Jack Jackson's wording but he is absolutely right.

Dec. 06 2011 12:37 PM
fuva from Harlemworld

Jack Jackson, well put! Particularly your point about the threat persistent exclusion and gross inequality poses across colors. Unfortunately, looks like too many people have no ears.

Dec. 06 2011 12:37 PM

And now know-nothing Republicans are lining up to destroy the EPA altogether.

Dec. 06 2011 12:35 PM

This woman is a piece of work! I worked for the government as well and anyone who doesn't go along with the powerful bureaucrats in charge are always marginalized and pushed out no matter their race or gender. Ridiculous.

Oh and does she think the current government or South Africa is so saintly and transparent? Please. She has an agenda and uses racism to try and intimidate others. She is an insult to people who have experienced real racism. I am going to turn this off before I vomit.

Dec. 06 2011 12:33 PM
Jack Jackson from Central NJ

Get serious, folks.

Woodrow Wilson forced every Negro that was working for the federal government OUT when he took office. DC (located below the Mason-Dixon line) is just as racist as most of the South. Racial insensitivity promulgates the status quo...and if the status quo is a result of racial exclusion and poverty that is what you will get more of if you do not change.

This woman's story is all of our stories....Hear it.

Dec. 06 2011 12:21 PM
john from office

This is an expert?? are you kidding me!

Maybe we need the metal, no matter who dies. Maybe it is a national security issue??

Dec. 06 2011 12:20 PM
John A.

Shining example how humor cannot be used in an office setting.

Dec. 06 2011 12:19 PM

I was the only white person working in my unit years ago and was sitting in my boss's office one day when she made a negative comment about "white people." When another staff person reminded her that I was in the room, she laughed and said I was an "honorary black person." I then laughed as well.

Racism is still a problem but this woman sounds like someone who looks for it everywhere and is obsessed with finding it.

Dec. 06 2011 12:15 PM
john from office

wow, remind me not to hire this lady!!, Instant lawsuit.

She needs to learn to work with others not look for the slight. MAYBE PEOPLE DID NOT LIKE HER, because of her attitude.

Dec. 06 2011 12:14 PM

Genuine liberals -- not the neo-libs of Clinton or Obama (who can barely be distinguished from their neo-con counterparts) -- have noted for years that Clinton was poor on environmental issues. Obama also is proving poor on the environment.

Democrats and Republicans alike cave in the face of wealthy, corporate opposition.

Dec. 06 2011 12:14 PM
john from office

Thin skins, lets learn to take a joke. Every office has some degree of hazing. THIN SKINS

Dec. 06 2011 12:11 PM

Maybe... just maybe... the "honorary white man" statement was... a joke?

Dec. 06 2011 12:10 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.