News Feature | December 15, 2016

Fired Over Poor Lead Management, Ohio EPA Rehires Employee

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

firedregular

In a surprising twist, a former supervisor with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, who appealed her firing over the handling of lead in Mahoning County community's drinking water, has been rehired for a new job within the agency.

The decision was made after the two sides were able to reach a settlement and Julie Spangler, the former supervisor, dropped her appeal, reported The Vindicator. Spangler was one of two EPA employees fired in February after the agency looked into why it took an extended period of time “for the agency’s top administrators to find out about high lead levels in the village of Sebring,” according to Cleveland.com.

Residents of Sebring were not warned about the dangerous lead levels until Jan. 21. Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler had fired Spangler and another employee, Ken Baughman, who had been responsible for reviewing the Sebring water test results.

The Plain Dealer reported that Spangler had been accused of failing to properly manage Baughman, an employee with a poor record, “and for not providing appropriate corrective counseling or progressive discipline despite being instructed to do so.”

In her new job, Spangler will work “in a non-managerial capacity as an environmental specialist at the EPA's Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance in Columbus.” The EPA reported that Baughman failed to make sure that lab results were sent from the Columbus office to the Twinsburg office so the staff there could begin enforcing actions and alert water customers of dangerous lead levels in the village's drinking water.

Tests that took place last year demonstrated how unsafe lead levels flowing from the taps of some homes came from the village of Sebring's Public Water System in Mahoning County. Records obtained by The Plain Dealer showed that the EPA found out about the elevated lead levels in October, but didn't warn the water system to notify the public until December.

Image credit: "South Carolina Tidal Creek, April 2014" National Ocean Service © 2014 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/