| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
MCWANE INC. AND EXECUTIVES CHARGED WITH ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES
One Former Employee Agrees To Plead Guilty To Conspiracy To
Commit Environmental Crimes
Commit Environmental Crimes
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Department of Justice; U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin of the Northern District of Alabama; Ricky Langlois, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Criminal Investigation Division, Jacksonville Area Office; and Carmen S. Adams, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation announced today that McWane Inc., James Delk, Michael Devine, Charles “Barry” Robinson, and Donald Bills were indicted late yesterday by a federal jury for environmental crimes connected with the operation of McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham, Alabama.
One additional individual, Donald Harbin, has agreed to plead guilty to a one-count information charging him with conspiracy to violate environmental laws connected with the operation of McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham, Alabama. Harbin, 58, of New Jersey, oversaw maintenance activities at McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company during a period when the company was allegedly discharging processed waste water into Avondale Creek in Birmingham in violation of a federal permit. The maximum sentence for an individual convicted on a conspiracy count is 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
McWane is a Delaware corporation, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, which operates iron foundries at various locations across the country, including the McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham. James Delk, 37, is a former Vice President and General Manager at the McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, and currently works at a McWane facility in New York. Charles “Barry” Robinson, 65, of Birmingham, is the Vice President for Environmental Affairs at McWane. Michael Devine, 44, is a former plant manager at McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, and currently works for McWane in New Jersey. Donald Bills, 56, of Birmingham, is plant engineer at McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company.
"Today’s actions paint a picture of alleged systematic discharges of process waste water into a creek and efforts by company officials to hide these discharges from state and federal regulators," said Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This marks the second indictment of a McWane division in the past 6 months. The Department of Justice takes seriously its responsibility to enforce the nation's environmental laws and to prosecute to the fullest extent those who seek to break them."
“This indictment charges a conspiracy, between McWane, Inc. and its highest positioned employees at the McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, to violate the Clean Water Act, to make false statements to the EPA and to obstruct justice,” said U. S. Attorney Alice H. Martin. “It is critical that we enforce criminal environmental laws against alleged corporate wrongdoers and their employees, so that Birmingham residents are protected from the harm caused by a company putting pipe and profits above the public’s welfare.”
The twenty-five count indictment charges that the defendants caused industrial process wastewater from the operations of McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham to be discharged into Avondale Creek in violation of a federal permit and took steps to conceal the illegal discharges from state and federal regulators.
Count 1 of the indictment charges each of the defendants with conspiracy to:
(a) defraud the United States by obstructing EPA’s enforcement of federal environmental laws,
(b) violate the Clean Water Act, and
(c) make false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the EPA.
Counts 2 through 11 of the indictment charge McWane, James Delk, and Michael Devine with violations of a federal permit by discharging process wastewater into Avondale Creek through storm drains.
Counts 12 through 22 charge McWane and James Delk with additional violations of the Clean Water Act, each month from March 2000 through January 2001, by way of discharging wastewater in violation of a permit.
Count 23 charges McWane, James Delk, and Michael Devine with violating the Clean Water Act by discharging process wastewater that exceeded permit limits for oil and grease.
Count 24 charges McWane and Charles “Barry” Robinson with making a materially false statement and representation to the EPA in response to an EPA request for information under the Clean Water Act.
Count 25 charges McWane with obstruction of justice for providing false and misleading information to the EPA in April 2000.
Ricky D. Langlois, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, stated, “The EPA takes seriously its obligation to protect human health and the environment. This decisive action represents EPA's firm commitment to protect the citizens of Alabama and their quality of life by vigorously investigating those who would despoil our natural resources.”
“These indictments are the result of a long term joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Environmental Protection Agency into the waste disposal practices of the McWane Corporation in the Northern District of Alabama. Because clean air and water is vital to the health and safety of our residents, the FBI will continue to assist the EPA in the aggressive investigation of environmental crimes,” stated Carmen S. Adams, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The maximum sentence for an individual convicted on the conspiracy or false statement counts is:
5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The maximum sentence for an individual convicted of the Clean Water Act charges is:
a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $50,000 per day of violation, and by imprisonment for not more than 3 years.
For McWane, Inc. the maximum penalty for the conspiracy and Clean Water Act charges is:
a fine of the greater of $500,000 or $50,000 per day of violation, and probation of 5 years.
On the false statement or obstruction charges, the maximum penalty for McWane, Inc. is:
a fine of $500,000 and 5 years probation.
The case is being investigated by Special Agents of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, with assistance of the FBI. Senior Trial Attorney Christopher Costantini, Trial Attorney Kevin Cassidy of the Environmental Crimes Section (ECS) of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Assistant U. S. Attorney Robert O. Posey are prosecuting this case.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This is an older story but we publish it to make some points:
1. The EPA says they have a " firm commitment to protect the citizens of Alabama and their quality of life by vigorously investigating those who would despoil their natural resources."
Where are they in 2010?
2. The maximum sentence of a violation of the CWA is a fine of "not less than 5,000.00 nor more than 50,000.00 per day of violation and by imprisonment for not more than three years."
The ADEM files are running over with violations of the CWA, how many of the violators was this legal remedy applied to? We have not found any since this incident.
Environmental violations are almost all felonies. There are some misdemeanor provisions in the environmental laws, but most of the environmental laws carry felony sanctions if you commit a criminal violation of those laws. Under our workers' safety laws, the most you can ever be charged with is a misdemeanor.
3. Shelby County lists 87 historic hazmat incidents in their Multi Jurisdictional All Hazards Mitigation Plan, Supporting Annex, 2009 Update.
These incidents include air, land and water releases of: PCBs, xylene, benzene, arsenic, diesel fuel, oil, sulfuric acid, "coal produced" liquids, cyanide and mercury among many others.When checking the ADEM files for some of these violations we found no data.
Were they even reported? Was the public warned?
We challenge the EPA to take control of Alabama's state agencies authority and do what they said they would do; Protect us and our natural resources from these continued assaults and serial violators.
More on this "A Dangerous Business Revisited":