A former molecular biologist at Pfizer's Groton, Conn., plant alleges that she was told to stop documenting safety concerns at the lab even though she was a member of the company's health and safety committee.
Becky McClain made the claim at a "Workers Memorial Day" conference in San Francisco. (See video below.) She is also suing the company, claiming she was retaliated against because she kept raising safety concerns -- such as the discovery of a genetically engineered virus in a lunchroom -- with management.
Pfizer denies the claim and has moved to dismiss. McClain is representing herself in Connecticut federal court, and is thus not likely to win. UPDATE: A source says McClain has now obtained a lawyer. MCClain claims that a fume hood in one lab developed a leak and went unrepaired for months, sickening workers in the lab. When the hood was identified as the cause, McClain told the conference:
Pfizer unplugged the hood and dumped it outside in Groton air.She became unpopular at work because she filed five safety complaints with OSHA:
I was even told to stop documenting safety concerns in the safety committee.Eventually, her performance reviews went down, she became sick and was terminated. She also told these anecdotes about Pfizer's Human Health Embryonic Stem Cells Technologies, Genomic and Proteomic Sciences and Exploratory Medicinal Sciences Group:
People found a virus where we eat and drink. A contained virus, but people were still eating lunch in the -- a genetically engineered virus!
... this lady had finished her lunch and she found a microcentrifuge tube at the bottom of her Coke.
At times where you eat and drink, there were people walking around with isotopes.
Some of Pfizer management's response was a little bit odd. For example, one time ... some carcinogens [were found] where we eat and drink. I brought it up to this manager ... he said, "Well I was in graduate school and I had my hands in this stuff and I don't have cancer yet."Pfizer did not respond to a message requesting comment.
After an explosion at the plant in 2002, McClain went again to management to find out how the company budgeted for safety issues in her lab. They replied to her question about four months later, she said:
They basically said under OSHA standards our unsafe work environment is legal. ... Pfizer's safety budget is based on what is legal and not what is safe.
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