Federal officials are investigating whether the U.S. Navy fired a man because he was a vocal critic of the Navy's allegedly unsafe disposal of jet fuel, according to a
U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board order
on June 30.
Glenn Schwarz filed a complaint with the Navy Inspector General on June 9, 2015, claiming that officials at the Navy's Fleet Readiness Center-East did not test fuel pumps or gauges for over a year, that it unnecessarily wasted fuel and resources each time it disposed of jet fuel and that some of the center's disposal practices were hazardous, according to the
Navy inspector general report
Almost exactly two years later, Schwarz, who was responsible for preparing planes for takeoff at the readiness center, was fired. His attorney, Cheri Cannon, says he was terminated for inconsequential reasons — and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel thinks there may be substance to that allegation.
“It was all mistakes and it was all corrected, but they used it anyways,” said Cannon. “It’s really stupid stuff that nobody else would be fired for.”
A spokesperson for the Fleet Readiness Center said in an email to Navy Times that he could not comment on Schwarz’s firing because of privacy laws regarding the investigation.
Instead, the OSC thinks his history of whistleblowing could be to blame, according to the order.
After his initial complaint, the inspector general substantiated many of his claims, noting that the center “needlessly” wastes $71,200 each year disposing of fuel, according the report.
Following Schwarz’s 2015 complaints, the inspector general issued a list of more than a dozen recommendations to improve how the readiness center handles and disposes of jet fuel, according to the report.
The recommendations ranged from creating more permanent positions to recalibrating fuel gauges. However, several problems persisted and the base never followed through with all of the recommendations, said Cannon.
“Some of the fixes could have been very easy, like slapping a sticker on the back of a truck, and they haven’t done that,” said Cannon. “Through a lack of training and focus on safety, somebody is going to do something, not intentionally, that will cause a plane mishap and somebody’s death.”
In the meantime, the Merit Systems Protection Board granted Schwarz a work-stay order until August 13, meaning that his firing is temporarily reversed.
He can show up for work, but Cannon says the center isn’t giving him any responsibilities. The OSC investigation is ongoing.