A McWane-owned company and four of its managers have been convicted in New Jersey on criminal counts ranging from polluting the Delaware River to intimidating workers and covering up details of a workplace fatality.
A federal jury found Phillipsburg, N.J.-based Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co. guilty on 32 of 34 counts, including conspiracy, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The company was acquitted on one count of lying to regulators. Jurors couldn't agree over one count facing the company. Four of five current or former managers on trial also were convicted of at least one count.
McWane said in a statement that the verdict will be appealed.
Birmingham Ala.-based McWane has faced a string of accusations since 2003. The company has found itself in court for much of the past three years, facing persistent questions about environmental and safety practices such as those that led to the 2000 death of an Atlantic States worker who was crushed by a forklift. Atlantic States was found guilty Wednesday of covering up the circumstances that led to the fatality.
"The McWane company has now been convicted five times in four jurisdictions across the country," said federal prosecutor Ralph Marra, Jr., who handled the New Jersey case. "I hope maybe they finally get the message to stop robbing the public of clean air and clean water, and to stop making pipe out of workers' flesh and bone."
McWane said in its written statement there was insufficient evidence to support conviction. "While mistakes or errors in judgment may have occurred, Atlantic States and all of its employees are innocent of any criminal wrongdoing," the statement said.
McWane is one of the largest manufacturers of ductile iron pipe, which is used in underground water and sewer systems. It is also one of the most dangerous employers, with at least 4,600 injuries and nine deaths at its 13 foundries since 1995, according to New York Times stories that relied on federal workplace records.