Pipe manufacturer found guilty of environmental crimes
A New Jersey cast iron pipe manufacturer, Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co. (a division of McWane, Inc. ) and four company officials were found guilty of committing flagrant abuses of environmental and worker safety laws, according to the U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency .
The charges include, among others, the regular discharge of oil into the Delaware River, concealing serious worker injuries from health and safety inspectors, and maintaining a dangerous workplace that contributed to multiple severe injuries and the death of one employee at the Phillipsburg, New Jersey plant.
After approximately six days of deliberations, the jury returned guilty verdicts against five of six defendants: Atlantic States; plant manager John Prisque; maintenance supervisor Jeffrey Maury; finishing superintendent Craig Davidson; and former Atlantic States human resource manager Scott Faubert—each of whom face prison time for the convictions. One defendant, Daniel Yadzinski, formerly the engineering manager at the plant, was acquitted on three counts.
U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper, who presided over the nearly seven-month-long trial—the longest environmental crimes trial prosecuted by the Justice Department—scheduled the sentencing for the corporation and individual defendants for September 7, 2006.
“As a multiple offender, McWane has time and again shown a disturbing indifference towards the health and safety of their workers and a blatant disregard for the natural environment we all share,” said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s conviction shows that the Department of Justice takes seriously its responsibility to enforce the nation’s environmental laws. And when companies or individuals break them with such shocking regularity, they will be vigorously prosecuted.”
The 34-count indictment charged Atlantic States, a subsidiary of McWane Inc. of Birmingham, Alabama, and the named managers, with conspiracy to violate federal clean air and water regulations and laws governing workplace safety, as well as obstruction of criminal and regulatory investigations by the EPA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The company and the four managers were each convicted on Count One of the 34-count indictment, charging that they and the company engaged in an eight-year conspiracy to pollute the air and Delaware River in violation of the federal Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, expose its employees to dangerous conditions and impede federal regulatory and criminal investigations. For the individual defendants, the conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a fine of $500,000 for the company.
– Edited by David Greenfield , editorial director
Control Engineering News Desk