Company, four senior managers sentenced after longest trial in environmental crimes history (4/28)
The sentencing of the company followed sentencing of four former Atlantic States managers to federal prison terms ranging from six months for former finishing department manager Craig Davidson to 70 months for former plant manager John Prisque. Also sentenced were former Atlantic States maintenance superintendent Jeffrey Maury (30 months), and former human resources manager Scott Faubert (41 months).
“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.”
Atlantic States, a division of McWane Industries, Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., is one of the world’s largest makers of cast-iron water and sewer pipes with subsidiaries located throughout the United States and Canada, according to the press release. This is the fourth criminal prosecution and sentencing involving a McWane, Inc. facility since 2005.
Following a seven-month trial, a jury on April 26, 2006 convicted Atlantic States and the four managers of engaging in an eight-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. (A fifth defendant was acquitted at trial.) This was the longest federal trial in environmental crimes history.
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 federal 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.