Hallway Feces Was Only the Beginning of EPA's Region 8 Problems

EPA's Region 8 headquarters building in Denver. EPA's Region 8 headquarters building in Denver. EPA

A few months ago, Government Executive unearthed an email sent to Environmental Protection Agency workers at a Denver office asking them to stop defecating in the hallway.

Well, it turns out the personal hygiene issues at the Region 8 headquarters were endemic, and it remains unclear if the culprit or culprits were ever caught.

The memorandum sent by Region 8 Deputy Administrator Howard Cantor set off a flurry of fear and rumors, emails made public by a Freedom of Information Act request by The Black Vault show. Email chains among EPA managers tell of the memo “generating a lot of chat” and note that “many women” expressed “feeling fearful.”

The supervisors’ discussed that the hallway excrement was not the first incident of fecal misconduct. The building’s facilities staff previously received a complaint described as “9th floor men’s restroom has a trail of poop leading out in hallway.” The complaint was marked as “medium” priority.

Another email said an employee heard a story that agency management already knew about a woman who had been “wiping feces and menstrual blood on the walls.” The manager apologized to her colleagues for sharing the story, writing, “I’m really sorry, this is beyond gross.” The employee informant was “worried that her behavior is escalating.”

One supervisor was concerned people may be taking the situation lightly, writing she could foresee “humorous comments people would make.” She warned, however, the perpetrator’s next action could be “grander in scheme” if he or she was not brought to justice.

One email thread between Cantor, the deputy administrator, and an individual whose name was redacted, simply had the subject line “dude…” The unknown emailer said there was so much material he could not even make a joke, to which Cantor said they should meet up over drinks so Cantor could hear the individual’s stand-up comedy routine.

One employee did not take the situation lightly; she told her manager that “this place is getting strange so I am going to apply for the buyout.”

After discussing how to respond to employees’ misgivings, the managers decided to deploy increased hallway patrols to “make people feel safer.”

The actions did not stop, however. After the memo was sent out, managers discussed reports of urine on toilet seats, unflushed toilets and intentionally clogged toilets. The emails also indicated that management followed up on its initial consultation with John Nicoletti, a workplace safety expert brought in to evaluate the dangers of hallway defecation, telling him “it hasn’t stopped and we haven’t identified a subject.”

Denver was also not the first EPA office to experience feces in the hallway; a redacted individual emailed one of the managers to tell her a similar incident occurred years earlier at a Region 3 building. The individual offered a name to glean the lessons learned from that incident. The hallway incident was not even the first misplaced defecation at the Denver office; an employee previously relieved himself outside the building after realizing he was locked out.

The emails unearthed in the FOIA request then jump forward a few months to around the time the Government Executive story ran. The same managers discuss how to respond to GovExec’s request for comment. After realizing the national attention the story was drawing, they issued another regionwide email telling employees how to deal with media inquiries.

One email sounded the alarm that “there are news cameras out front.” 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.