USDA’s Top Research Facility Becomes A Nightmare for Its Workers and Scientists Know the Reason
- Posted on May 19, 2023
- By Stiti pragnya padhy
- 41 Views
The Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) has come under scrutiny since three of its employees have formally lodged complaints, accusing the largest research facility owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of fostering hazardous conditions that endanger the well-being of workers and hamper their research efforts within the premises.
The Concerning State of Affairs at BARC
After Reuters conducted interviews with staff members as well as reviewed the documents it came to light that the conditions at the institution which has been the flagship of U.S. farm research for quite a long time have been deteriorating over the years. The primary factors contributing to this decline are staff cuts and a lack of services, which have resulted in neglect of its basic systems such as infrastructure and maintenance.
Reuters also contacted five current employees and one former employee of the facility who revealed that there was a range of concerns at BARC. Issues such as fume ventilation hoods in the labs failing to meet regulatory standards, fire alarms remaining inoperative for months as well as significant fluctuations in temperature creating unfavorable work conditions. Shockingly, even basic amenities such as functioning toilets and running water are reported to be frequently unavailable. To support their claims, the employees shared hundreds of photographs, videos, and documents with the news agency, which was reviewed by Reuters as well.
Reactions to The Complaints
When Reuters contacted Mitchell, who was one of the staff who filed complaints, she stated that the condition of the facility was “heartbreaking.” She said, “We can do so much here, we’re just not doing it.” Reacting to the allegations against BARC, a spokesperson at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), said, “Our employees’ health and well-being is our top priority." "We remain committed to the ongoing effort to modernize our research facilities so they have workspaces that can support the critical research they carry out”, he said.
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