McWane's Provo Pipe-Making Company Indicted

McWane's Provo Pipe-Making Company Indicted

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Co., a division in Provo, Utah, of McWane Inc., and two managers have been indicted on charges alleging it falsified tests to cover up its pollution violations.

The indictment handed up Thursday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City named McWane, which is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.; Charles Matlock, McWane vice president and Pacific States general manager; and Charles "Barry" Robison, McWane vice president of environmental affairs.

The indictment charged conspiracy, Clean Air Act violations and false statement. The charges are punishable by fines up to $500,000 and individuals also may be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Pacific States issued a statement saying it and its employees were innocent. A phone number listed to a Charles Matlock was not answered. A woman answering the phone at Robison's home in Georgia said he was not available for comment.

McWane's Web site says the company has 37 facilities, including 26 manufacturing operations in the United States, Canada and Australia. The Provo plant is one of its facilities that make ductile iron pipe.

The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. attorney allege the plant operated its cupola furnace although the company knew its air pollution control device was insufficient to remove the required amount of pollutants.

The indictment alleges that on compliance test days, the company would melt pig iron instead of the normal feedstock, which includes shredded scrap automobiles, resulting in inaccurate test results.

"Pig iron is clean and essentially freed from impurities," while scrap automobiles may contain rust, chrome, plastic, tires, car seats and zinc-coated auto parts, the indictment said.

The indictment alleges the defendants submitted reports intentionally misrepresenting the amount of PM10 pollutants emitted by the plant. It alleged the company did so to avoid upgrading pollution control equipment.

"The evidence will show that there was nothing improper about the way the stack tests were conducted and Pacific States is innocent of these charges," the company statement said.

It said that even before the investigation began, the company had installed a $6 million state-of-the-art emission control system. It said that since 1997, it has invested $10 million on environmental improvements.

The U.S. attorney's office said McWane has pleaded guilty to charges in two other districts, was convicted in a trial in a third and is on trial now in a fourth.

McWane's Tyler Pipe Co. in Texas pleaded guilty in March to submitting a false statement and violating the Clean Air Act and was fined $4.5 million.

In June, McWane and former McWane Cast Iron Pipe Co. Vice President James Delk were convicted of conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act and violating the act by discharges of wastewater into Avondale Creek in Birmingham. Robison was convicted of submitting a false statement to the EPA. Sentencing is set for Dec. 5.

In September, McWane's Union Foundry Co. in Anniston, Ala., was fined $4.25 million for illegal treatment of hazardous waste and worker safety violations that resulted in the death of an employee.

McWane subsidiary Atlantic States and several managers are on trial in New Jersey on charges of conspiracy to violate clean air and water regulations and workplace safety laws and also for allegedly obstructing investigations.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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