Smithsonian whistleblower Richard Pullman will hold a press conference on Tuesday, March 17, to announce the filing of a whistleblower retaliation complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. In his whistleblower retaliation complaint, Pullman will charge that management retaliated against him for speaking out about asbestos hazards at the National Air and Space Museum, which attracts over five million visitors per year.
According to Pullman's whistleblower retaliation complaint, Smithsonian officials knew for years about the presence of asbestos in the museum, but routinely allowed exhibit workers to disturb large amounts of asbestos-containing materials without protective equipment. Pullman now suffers from asbestosis as a result. Pullman's persistent complaints to management and other government authorities resulted in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration citing the museum for violating asbestos regulations. The Smithsonian has finally begun to take some steps to protect workers and the public from asbestos exposure, yet unsafe conditions continue.
At the press conference, Pullman and asbestos experts will dispute the Smithsonian's claims that it never exposed workers or the public to asbestos, and that conditions at the museum are safe today. Recent tests have asbestos at dangerous and impermissible levels in renovation and repair debris, which the Smithsonian has not yet removed from the building, and the museum is not consistently following asbestos protocols even today.
Speakers at the press conference will include Pullman, his attorneys, and Dr. Michael Harbut, Co-Director of the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit (for ID only).