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Lear denies allegations, The Great Invisible and new Little Lagoon Bridge

Kimberly King
Kimberly King, former Lear employee, with medications for asthma she contracted on the job.

Selma-based Hyundai supplier Lear Corporation is disputing allegations that it fired a whistleblower in a federal safety investigation.

Lear said on Friday that allegations of employees being exposed to the hazardous chemical TDI are false. The company says the air in the plant has been tested by multiple independent parties.

However, NBC recently reported that a Yale University medical clinic tested blood samples from nearly twenty workers, and five showed exposure to the chemical.

An order filed by the U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday blocked Lear and Renosol Seating from terminating, suspending, suing, threatening or retaliating against current or former employees.

50 year old Kimberly King, a former Lear employee, alleges she was fired immediately after speaking out about unsafe conditions at the plant. A Montgomery judge issued a restraining order against King in March.

Lear says the allegations are part of efforts by United Auto Workers to pressure the company into accepting a union at the plant.

The company says it is not against unions and that half of its employees already are union members.

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

An explosion on an offshore oil rig killed eleven workers, and the gushing well spilled over two hundred million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico before finally being capped in September 2010.

Filmmaker Margaret Brown recently released a documentary, The Great Invisible, covering the spill and its aftermath. She says that over the four year process of making the film, its focus changed.

“I was really interested in making a film that was sort of following the spill in the three to four years after it happened. But as the film evolved, it evolved into this web of how we're all connected to that factory and to the Gulf of Mexico.”

The Great Invisible is available on Netflix and iTunes, and makes its television debut tonight on PBS.

You can also read the full interview with Margaret Brown and take a look back at our award-winning coverage of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Driving around the Gulf Shores area might be a little easier starting today.

City leaders and the Alabama Department of Transportation are cutting the ribbon on the new bridge over Little Lagoon. The ceremony was supposed to be last Friday, but some finishing touches were needed on the road approaching the bridge.

Vincent Calametti is a Regional Engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation. He says construction of the bridge was a typical replacement project.

“This bridge has been open since the early seventies, and it’s on State Route 182, which is adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. So, it’s weathered quite a few storms. It was deemed ‘need to be replaced.’”

Construction had been underway for about a year, and a temporary detour bridge was put in place so cars could get by. The ribbon cutting ceremony is set for today at 10:30.

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