In February 2007, David Gootkin came to the state Capitol in Hartford to testify in favor a bill prompted by his brother Robert’s death the year before at Covanta’s waste-to-energy plant in Wallingford. The bill, which eventually was adopted, requires that operators of solid waste facilities have at least two employees or a camera in the work area when waste is being fed into a hopper.
The previous May, Robert Gootkin, a 15-year employee of Covanta’s plant, was pinned against a wall and crushed to death by a hopper lid. David told lawmakers that his brother had been working a 12-hour overnight shift alone when the accident occurred, and that it took facility personnel 30 minutes to respond to alarms that went off. As a former employee of the plant himself, David complained that workers were being exposed to unnecessary risks. Covanta lobbied against the bill, saying it took adequate precautions.
“My brother’s death was an accident waiting to happen,” said David, who left the company before Robert died.
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