PNS Daily Newscast - May 17, 2019 

West Coast immigrants' rights groups pan President Trump’s new immigration proposal as “elitist.” Also on the Friday rundown: Consumer advocates want stronger energy-efficiency standards. And we'll take you to a state that ranks near the bottom for senior mental health.

Daily Newscasts

Investigation Finds Undocumented Oil Cleanup Workers in Unsafe Conditions

August 31, 2010

UPDATE - Following the initial report in the Michigan Messenger and on Public News Service, Hallmark, the controversial subcontractor caught using apparent undocumented immigrants working in unsafe conditions to clean up the Calhoun County spill, was fired. Read the full follow-up report in the Messenger here.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. - Undocumented workers pulling twelve-hour shifts in unsafe and unhealthy conditions; that's the scene along the Kalamazoo River, cleaning up the Calhoun County oil spill. After being tipped off by one of the cleanup workers, an investigation by the independent political news daily Michigan Messenger confirmed that Texas-based subcontractor Hallmark has brought in hundreds of workers to put in as much as 100 hours a week for $800 in cash.

Messenger reporter Todd Heywood went undercover, meeting up with workers at the spot where they gather in the morning to be transported to the work site.

"I was able to mingle with folks and talk to them and several of the folks did tell me - although they would not identify their names - they did tell me that they were undocumented in the country."

Heywood says a safety presentation was given on the dangers of poison ivy in English, although many workers spoke only Spanish proficiently.

Hallmark company officials say that all the workers are legal. However, a company supervisor on-site admitted to Heywood that none of the workers were required to fill out immigration verification documents.

Heywood says the Messenger also received photos of the work site from a source, which even the oil company concedes show safety and health violations.

"They show people in oiled clothing, eating and drinking food, which is obviously incredibly dangerous."

The Messenger submitted the photos to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for comment. The agency directed the company that owns the pipeline, Enbridge, to investigate. Enbridge says it will be addressing the safety concerns promptly.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - MI