Smithsonian worker files whistleblower complaint

Tuesday - 3/17/2009, 2:30pm EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - An exhibits specialist at the National Air and Space Museum is filing a federal whistleblower complaint against the Smithsonian Institution for retaliating when he complained of improper handling of asbestos in the museum's outside walls.

The complaint filed Tuesday details how Richard Pullman has implored museum managers for the past year to improve protections for workers and the public after learning of the asbestos.

Workers weren't told of the asbestos until March 2008, though Smithsonian officials learned of the problem in 1992.

Pullman, a 27-year employee, says he's been diagnosed with a lung disease linked to breathing asbestos fibers. His work involves sawing into the museum's walls.

Pullman says he was harassed and demoted after filing federal worker safety complaints, a charge the Smithsonian denies.

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