U.S. V. McWane Corp.

Beach pollution seen from a NOAA helicopter. Photos courtesy of NOAA Corps helicopter pilot Lt. Phil Eastman

Over the past several years McWane Corporation, one of the nation’s largest cast-iron pipe manufacturers, and its various corporate entities located around the country, have been the subject of five prosecutions, including cases in New Jersey, Texas, Alabama, and Utah.   In the New Jersey matter, United States v. Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Company, (D. N.J.), a seven-month trial lasting from mid 2005 to 2006  – the longest environmental crimes trial ever – resulted in guilty verdicts against Atlantic States (a division of McWane) and four manager defendants on multiple felony counts.  Individuals were sentenced to serve between six months to 70 months' incarceration. The company will pay a $8 million fine. Evidence established a history of environmental violations, workplace injuries and fatalities, and activities intended to obstruct justice.  The company and four current and former managers were found guilty of conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Clean Air Act (CAA), and various substantive CWA, CAA, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), false statement, and obstruction charges. All defendants are appealing their sentences.

Process wastewater is shown going into a creek.In United States v. Tyler Pipe Company (E.D. Tex.), Tyler Pipe, a division of McWane located in Tyler, Texas, pled guilty in March 2005 to a felony false statement count concerning a permit application and to a knowing violation of the CAA for illegally operating its facility without notifying authorities of a major modification.  After the company replaced a large furnace, known as a "cupola," it falsely claimed that the cupola was not new, in an attempt to avoid equipping it with updated "best available control technology (BACT)," as required by the CAA.  The company was sentenced to pay a fine of $4.5 million, and ordered to replace and upgrade structures at its iron foundry facility–at a cost of approximately $20 million.  The Tyler Pipe division of McWane had a history of environmental and safety violations:  in 2000, the company pled guilty to a willful violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations that resulted in the death of an employee. 

In United States v. Union Foundry (N.D. Ala.), a McWane iron foundry division located in Anniston, Alabama pled guilty in September 2005 to a willful violation of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation that led to the death of an employee and to violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  Because the company operated equipment at its foundry without required safety guards, an employee was caught in a conveyer belt pulley and crushed to death.  The plant also illegally treated baghouse dust contaminated with lead, a hazardous waste, and exposed workers to this waste.  The company was ordered to pay a  $3.5 million criminal fine and perform community service valued at $750,000 (including local lead and asbestos abatement). 

Smoke stack showing carbon monoxide and other air pollutants being introduced into the air.In United States v. Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Company (D. Utah), a Utah division of McWane was convicted of making false statements, and sentenced to pay a $3 million fine.  The company’s vice president and general manager was sentenced to serve 12 months incarceration for violating the CAA.

Lastly, in United States v. McWane, Inc. (N.D. Ala.), three company officials and the corporation (acting through McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, its Birmingham-based division), have been charged with illegally discharging process wastewater through storm drains into a nearby stream – in violation of the Clean Water Act, and with making false statements to the Environmental Protection Agency (statements that helped conceal their discharges).  The case is still pending.

In the News
April 26, 2006

Cast Iron Pipe Manufacturer, Company Officials Found Guilty of Environmental Crimes and Worker Safety Violations

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 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, the Justice Department and Environmental Agency announced today.

Updated April 13, 2015