It was only a couple months ago that reports surfaced about feces in the hallways at an Environmental Protection Agency regional office.
But agency documents obtained by the media shows that bathroom vandalism at the EPA Region 8 office got so bad, they had to call the Department of Homeland Security for help.
The EPA’s Denver office has been hit by about “a dozen suspected instances of restroom shenanigans since late 2013, according to emails, memorandums and incident reports” obtained by Greenwire.
Greenwire previously reported that EPA Region 8 has had “several incidents” of bathroom misbehavior, including clogged the toilets and “an individual placing feces in the hallway.” But this was only the tip of the iceberg.
The atmosphere in the Denver office has gotten so bad EPA employees called for heightened security. Deputy Regional Administrator Howard Cantor sent an email out saying “please increase the frequency of patrols.” This was sent out just one day after Cantor sent out a staff memo on the issue.
An official request to DHS was filed, asking the Federal Protective Service for “the number of patrols [to] be increased immediately.”
“EPA adjusted building patrol schedules to ensure a more frequent and consistent presence throughout the building,” an EPA spokeswoman told Greenwire. “Those schedules remain in place.”
A DHS official also told the EPA it would “do a report and push it up to our Special Agents to see if they can provide any assistance in investigating” the rash of bathroom vandalism.
“DHS played a limited role in assisting us in our review of the incidents,” EPA’s said spokeswoman.
Emails obtained by Greenwire from EPA staffers shed more light on the atmosphere within the Denver office.
“One of my employees refused to come into the office today because she is terrified after hearing a story on the train home last night,” an EPA official wrote in an email. “A male supervisor … told her that management knows that it is a female on the [redacted] floor who has been wiping feces and menstrual blood on the walls (I’m really sorry, this is beyond gross) and that they are worried that her behavior is escalating.”
Another official said an employee reported “her house keys were stolen off her desk on Jan. 31st and she had to have her locks changed — she also said that ‘this place is getting strange so I am going to apply for the buy out.”
According to emails, the first restroom mishap occurred in December 2013 when urinated on the toilet seat and floor. On January 13th, the men’s room on the ninth floor had “a trail of poop leading out in hallway.”
“They passed shame on the turnpike of life some time ago,” Dvoskin, a workplace violence expert, told Greenwire. “That was an expression of rage, an act of extreme disrespect against management. I would be very concerned by that act. Whatever else is going on with that person, they are probably pretty angry.”
Homeland Security even got involved and a spokeswoman for the EPA told Greenwire that there are increased patrols at the Denver office.
But emails suggest even the involvement with DHS has not stopped the vandalism. One email from an EPA official dated February 23rd said it “hasn’t stopped and we haven’t identified a subject yet.”
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