Environmental Violations at Tyndall AFB Subject of Lawsuit

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jerry Phillips (850) 877-8097; Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

Environmental Violations at Tyndall AFB Subject of Lawsuit

Force Withholding Internal Investigation Confirming Whistleblower Charges

WASHINGTON - Officials at Florida's Tyndall Air Force Base have allowed routine
environmental violations to go uncorrected and unpunished, according to
a lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). The group is suing to obtain the internal
investigation report completed a year ago by Air Force Office of
Special Investigation and submitted to the Base Commander at Tyndall
AFB.

"At Tyndall Air Force Base, there appears to be an ingrained belief
that environmental laws do not apply," stated Florida PEER Director
Jerry Phillips, a former enforcement attorney for the Florida
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), who filed the complaint
which triggered the investigation. "Tyndall is like a military version
of Las Vegas - what happens on the base, stays on the base."

On August 31, 2006, Phillips filed a formal complaint with the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency outlining water pollution, wetlands
violations and other breaches of resource protection laws, including
those safeguarding cultural artifacts. The PEER complaint was
buttressed by a number of internal e-mails and memos from base
officials.

The complaint was referred to the Air Force Office of Special
Investigation which conducted a review that concluded in November 2007.
A month later, Phillips filed a request under the Freedom of
Information Act seeking a copy of the investigative report. Despite
indicating that the PEER request was "placed on our Fast Track", the
Air Force never produced the report. On January 9, 2008, PEER filed a
formal appeal with the Secretary of the Air Force arguing that the
20-day response period required under the Freedom of Information Act
had long since passed. PEER last heard from the Air Force on July 1,
2008. Today, PEER filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington,
DC.

"We believe that the documents produced by this suit will show that
the base command was made aware of multiple violations of law, rule and
regulations yet took no action," Phillips added. "The same type of
violations continue to occur and Tyndall under the orders of the same
officials."

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

Tyndall Air Force Base, located 12 miles east of Panama City,
Florida, is the home for the 325th Fighter Wing of the Air Education
and Training Command. It has attracted national attention for its
refusal of a request by the EPA to sign an agreement governing the
clean-up of a Superfund site on the base. In addition, Tyndall AFB has
been stung by a series of lawsuits by its own environmental staff
alleging on-the-job retaliation. These suits have resulted in verdicts
awarding the workers approximately $1.5 million.

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See the PEER lawsuit

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