Former Danville Goodyear employee shares thoughts on violations discovered at the plant

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

DANVILLE (WSLS 10) - Former Danville Goodyear employee Martha Flanagan is sharing her thoughts on the more than 100 violations at the plant that were revealed Thursday and resulted in more than $1 million in fines.

"It surprises me," Flanagan said when asked what she thought when she heard about all of the violations at the plant.

Flanagan said during her time at the plant, employees did die on the job, but the deaths were very few and far between.

Four employees have died on the job in the past 13 and a half months.

One of those employees she knew personally.

"It was very tough, yeah," Flanagan said of the employee's death. "The father of this young man, I worked with my entire Goodyear career."

She said safety was always a top priority at the plant during her 27 years there, but the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Compliance Program found 122 violations during a five-and-a-half month inspection of the plant that wrapped up last week.

How this will impact the city's largest employer and one of the largest employers in all of Southside is uncertain and that leaves the future of the area's economy somewhat uncertain as well.

Danville Mayor John Gilstrap said the city has diversified over the years and that will help the city in the event that the plant shuts down as a result of the violations and fines.

"Over the years we have diversified our industry base and business base,"  Gilstrap emphasized.

Flanagan said for the sake of all of the memories she has from her time at the plant and for the sake of all those who depend on the plant now, she prays it stays open.

"That would be very heartbreaking to know that Danville would lose the largest employer and a lot of people would lose their livelihood," she said.

Goodyear is now contesting these fines along with the fines it received earlier this year for the death of Jeanie Lynn Strader at the plant last August.

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