WILLIAM SANJOUR

Biography

 
Mr. William Sanjour is a native of New York where he attended college at CCNY and earned a master's degree in physics at Columbia University. His career started as an operations research analyst with the Navy's "think tank," the Center for Naval Analysis. He later worked as an operations research analyst with the American Cyanamid Company and then as a management consultant for Ernst & Ernst.

In the late sixties he became involved in environmental issues as a consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Several years later he accepted a position with EPA as Branch Chief in the newly established Hazardous Waste Management Division. In this capacity he supervised studies of hazardous waste damages and treatment technologies. These efforts culminated in the passage of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, after which, Mr. Sanjour was in charge of drafting regulations for the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste.

In 1978 the Carter administration, concerned about inflation, took steps to protect industry by removing the teeth of the hazardous waste regulatory effort. At first, Sanjour fought from within the EPA to make RCRA work in the true spirit of the legislation. The agency responded by transferring him in 1979 to a position with no duties. He then became an outspoken EPA whistleblower. He alerted Congress, environmental groups, and the press to this attack on RCRA.

He fought his transfer and after a year long legal bout, he won. In 1980 he was made head of the Hazardous Waste implementation Branch where he set up a hazardous waste data management systems and wrote regulations for the transportation of hazardous waste. However, he continued to expose Agency waste, fraud and abuse. He testified Congressional hearings several times and was active in helping grassroots environmental groups on his own time.

When Rita Lavelle (later jailed) was Assistant Administrator in the Regan Administration, the agency retaliated by fabricating an unsatisfactory performance evaluation, the only one Mr. Sanjour ever received. This too was fought and won by Mr. Sanjour under the Agency grievance procedures.

In 1984, Mr. Sanjour took a break from Agency harassment to go on loan to the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) where he wrote a critique of EPA hazardous waste regulations which appeared in the 1985 OTA study entitled Superfund Strategy.

When he returned to EPA, the Agency had retaliated by removing him from his Branch Chief position. Assigned as a Policy Analyst, Mr. Sanjour issued regulations for procurement of recycled paper, re-refined lubricating oil, retread tires and insulation products in a period of only four years. Mr. Sanjour received an outstanding performance award for this unprecedented achievement.

Meanwhile, EPA, with the collusion of the Office of Government Ethics, issued regulations to prevent Mr. Sanjour and one other whistleblower from receiving travel expenses when addressing citizens groups on their own time. Over a four year period, this law was fought and defeated in the federal courts by the National Whistleblower Center and Sanjour v EPA now stands as a landmark decision preventing the government from silencing government employees criticizing the government.

In 1995 Mr. Sanjour was detailed, at his request, to assist the Superfund Ombudsman. Here he investigated citizen complaints against the Agency's regional offices in their implementation of the Superfund program. Although this was a position which well suited him, the failure of the Agency to cooperate in the investigation made the position pointless. After a year, he was permanently transferred to the Technology Information Office where he now functions as a policy analyst in an obscure and relatively unimportant post.

Mr. Sanjour has had to fight several legal battles in the Labor Department to halt the Agency's continuous harassment all of which the Agency settled out of court. Despite his reduction in status and having to continually fight for his legal rights, Mr. Sanjour stubbornly continued his government service while assisting grassroots environmentalists and fellow whistleblowers until he retired in June 2001. He continues to write about environmental and whistleblower protection when he is not traveling or sailing.

He is on the advisory board of the North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network and the National Whistleblower Center, and is a fellow of the Environmental Research Foundation.
 
 
 
 

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