Direct Examination of Mr. Locke Continues
Wednesday morning began with prosecution attorney Kris McLean continuing direct examination of Mr. Locke, a former construction manager for W.R. Grace. The direct examination focused mostly on a letter Mr. Locke sent to Mr. Eaton in February of 1977 (government exhibit 66). The letter was also copied to Favorito, McCord, and Wolter. This multi-page letter outlined the policies and activities regarding Grace’s construction products. Mr. McLean proceeded by laying a foundation for the letter. After admittance of the letter into evidence Mr. McLean focused on several specific sections of the letter.
Section two of the letter, titled Petition Preparation California, addressed adverse publicity among contractors regarding tremolite. Mr. Locke testified there was a concern that contractors would become aware that products contained tremolite. Section three: Petition Preparation Federal addressed arguments that could be made as to why Grace should not be affected by current regulations. It stated that vermiculite has de minimus respirable tremolite. Mr. McLean elicited from Mr. Locke that the letter never stated that vermiculite releases asbestos. The section also discussed that published studies show a very low hazard with tremolite. Mr. McLean pointed out that the hamster study was unpublished and seemed to suggest that is why the section only referenced published studies. Mr. Locke testified that he was paid to make the best possible arguments in support of Grace’s construction products.
Section 11: Form 20 OSHA Request addressed material safety data sheets, which disclose hazardous contents in a product, and health warnings. Mr. Locke testified that past policy was the fewer form 20’s the better. In regards to Section 12: General Inquiries, Expanded, Mr. Locke testified that it was preferred that Grace answer inquiries to avoid contact of regulatory agencies, which might heighten scrutiny of Grace and its products. Section 13: General Inquires, Ore addressed the use of Grace mined ore sold to third parties. Mr. Locke testified that past policy was not to have documented evidence of specific internal problems, analysis, or consulting engineering assistance on record regarding communications with third parties who purchased Grace ore. He testified that if documented, customer responsibility for conditions of a plant might migrate to Grace. Thus, Grace wanted to minimize documentation. Section 31: Farleigh Dickinson addressed the hamster study. Specifically, it suggested that the dosage level initially used was too high and Grace may want to start another series of tests at lower a dosage level.
Mr. McLean’s questioning seemed designed to show that Grace was trying to downplay the dangers of its products to the public. Numerous objections during the direct examination by the defense were overruled by Judge Molloy.