A federal jury found industrial pipe maker McWane Inc. and two of its executives guilty of environmental crimes, including conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act. Another McWane executive, the company's vice president for environmental affairs, was found guity of making false statements to the Environmental Protection Agency.
McWane was found guilty of 20 counts in all. James Delk, 37, the former general manager at McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, the plant in Birmingham, was found guilty on 19 counts. Michael Devine, 44, the former plant manager at McWane Cast Iron Pipe, was convicted on seven counts. Mr. Delk and Mr. Devine continue to hold positions at other McWane plants. McWane faces potentially millions of dollars in criminal fines, while the three managers face fines and possible prison time.Last March, McWane Corporation pleaded guilty to "environmental crimes" for knowingly violating the Clear Air Act by making major modifications at its Tyler Pipe plant in Tyler, Texas, without installing the necessary air pollution controls. The compay was fined $4.5 million, placed on probation for five years and required to spend an estimated $12 million on plant upgrades.
During a trial that lasted five weeks, numerous McWane employees, including two former plant managers, testified that McWane managers had ordered them to discharge industrial wastewater into storm water drains, which emptied into Avondale Creek. Prosecutors asserted that McWane managers then engaged in an elaborate subterfuge to hide the discharges from regulators.
McWane was the focus of a 2003 NY Times/Frontline series about the high number of workplace injuries and fatalities at that company's facilities. The company is also accused of conspiring to violate environmental and workplace safety laws at its plant in Phillipsburg, N.J.