On April 24, Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co. of Phillipsburg, N.J., was sentenced to pay a fine of $8 million for committing numerous environmental and worker safety crimes after what EPA called the "longest trial in environmental crimes history." This action follows the sentencing of four former Atlantic States managers to federal prison terms ranging from 6 to 70 months.
The judge also ordered Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co. to serve 48 months "monitored" probation, requiring it to submit biannual reports to the court.
The managers who were sentenced during the week of April 20, include John Prisque, former plant manager, who received a 70-month sentence; Scott Faubert, former human resources manager, with a 41-month sentence; Jeffrey Maury; former maintenance superintendent, who received a 30 months; Craig Davidson, former finishing department manager, who was handed a 6-month sentence.
"These sentences show that senior managers, as well as companies, will be prosecuted when they break the law," said Catherine McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "The managers had an obligation to run the facility safely and legally; instead, they committed environmental crimes that polluted the air and water and put people’s health at risk."
Following a 7-month trial, a jury on April 26, 2006 convicted Atlantic States and the four managers of engaging in an 8-year conspiracy to pollute the air and Delaware River in violation of the federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, expose its employees to dangerous conditions, and impede and obstruct federal regulatory and criminal investigations.
During the trial, the government presented evidence that the defendants routinely violated Clean Water Act permits by discharging petroleum-contaminated water and paint into storm drains that led to the Delaware River; repeatedly violated Clean Air Act permits by, among other things, burning tires and excessive amounts of hazardous waste paint in the furnace; systematically altered accident scenes and concealed serious worker injuries from health and safety inspectors; routinely lied to federal, state, and local officials who were investigating environmental and worker safety violations; and maintained a dangerous workplace that contributed to multiple severe injuries and the death of one employee at the plant.
The company and each of the defendants were convicted of the main conspiracy count in a 34-count Indictment. Atlantic States was convicted of a total of 32 of 34 counts, which also included five counts of making materially false statements to state and federal environmental agencies and OSHA; four counts of obstructing OSHA investigations; and 22 counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act and one count of violating the Clean Air Act.
Atlantic States, a division of McWane Industries, Inc. of Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the world’s largest makers of cast-iron water and sewer pipes with subsidiaries located throughout the United States and Canada. This is the fourth criminal prosecution and sentencing involving a McWane, Inc. facility since 2005.
Frumin: OSHA Law Must Be Strengthened
Responding to the sentencing of the first of four executives, Change to Win Health and Safety Coordinator Eric Frumin urged Congress to make "fundamental changes in the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act" that created OSHA in 1970.
"Like too many other heartless and negligent employers, McWane managers believed they could kill their workers, lie to inspectors, obstruct federal investigations – and get away with it," said Frumin on April 20. "At least for McWane's managers, those days should finally end today."
Frumin added that the convictions also demonstrate how "weak" the OSHA law is. "Killing workers and lying to inspectors is still only a misdemeanor under the OSHA law – compared to serious felonies under the laws used by OSHA, EPA and the Justice Department in this case," he said.
"OSHA's inspectors in NJ worked diligently to uncover this conspiracy, get to the facts and make sure that workers are protected," he said. "But their job shouldn't be this difficult – workers in New Jersey and across the country deserve the same protection as wildlife and natural resources."