SeaWorld accused of flushing medications down toilet - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

SeaWorld accused of flushing medications down toilet

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A longtime security guard claims he was fired when he questioned SeaWorld's policy on confiscated prescription drugs.

Ezekiel Gutierrez says when employees seized drugs from guests they were told to flush the material down company toilets.

He claims after he brought his concerns about the practices he was fired and filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the company.

In the lawsuit states in part, "The narcotics, contraband, and other unknown substances were routinely flushed down the toilet in compliance with Defendant's instruction and policy."

In the 22-page wrongful termination lawsuit, Gutierrez claims from 1999 until 2012 SeaWorld supervisors told him prescription pills confiscated from guests were to be to be disposed by flushing them down the toilet.

Environmentalists such as Serge Dedina, the executive director for Wildcoast, says flushing pills down the toilet is harmful to the wildlife and marine life.

"Pharmaceuticals have a significant impact on wildlife and human health and a real impact on the ocean," said Dedina. "Reproductive problems possibly tumors there are all kinds of wildlife health issues."

He didn't want to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit against SeaWorld but says despite the quintillion gallons of water in the Pacific Ocean dumping prescription drugs is not good practices for anyone to follow especially a company such as SeaWorld.

"Everyone should be held to a high standard but any company doing business should be held to a higher standard possible and comply with the law," said Dedina.

In the lawsuit Gutierrez claims when he first questioned the practices he was told to keep quiet, "Marcelino put his finger to his lips indicating that Plaintiff should keep it a secret."

The former employee alleges when he questioned the pill disposal again in 2012 his concerns were ignored and policies were not changed and he was fired.

CBS News 8 checked records that show on Jan. 23 SeaWorld filed a motion requesting the case be moved to federal court.

SeaWorld issued an e-mail statement, "We do not comment on pending litigation," said SeaWorld spokesperson David Koontz.

Gutierrez and his attorney could not be reached for comment.

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