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Whittier : Toxic Waste Chief Fired for Not Reporting Spill

December 01, 1988

The city has fired its hazardous waste supervisor after the state cited Whittier for not reporting a chemical accident during July's household toxic waste roundup.

Tom Bayles, assistant director of public services, was fired because of "a number of issues," said Robert Griego, assistant city manager. Griego declined to elaborate, saying the dismissal was a personnel matter. Bayles had worked for the city since July, 1987.

Bayles was in charge of the July 18 roundup in which several hundred Whittier residents disposed of paint thinner and other chemicals at the city maintenance yard. During the roundup, the contractor hired to dispose of the waste accidentally mixed two noxious chemicals together, creating a cloud that burned him and required evacuation of a building at the yard. The contractor, Dennis O'Meara of Omega Recovery Services, was paid $60,000 to handle the roundup.

Whittier did not report the accident to the state within 15 days as the law requires, said Jim Marxen, a spokesman for the toxics division of the state Department of Health Services. The state can fine the city up to $30,000 for the violation, he said.

State and city officials are negotiating on a settlement amount, and the City Council is expected to approve a settlement at its Tuesday meeting, Marxen said.

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