The USA is frequently harsher in its punishment of environmental crimes than Canada. For example, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of cast iron water and sewer pipes, Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co. (a subsidiary of Alabama’s privately held McWane Inc.) has just been fined $8 million US for environmental and health and safety offences. Four of its senior managers have been sent to jail.
Atlantic was convicted of an 8-year conspiracy to pollute the air and the Delaware River; violating the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act; exposing its employees to dangerous conditions; and obstructing federal investigations. To save money, the company discharged oil and other contaminants into the river, knowingly polluted the air and falsified emissions tests. As well, it maintained a dangerous workplace and hid serious worker injuries from regulators.The New Jersey District Court sentenced the 4 former managers to terms in federal prison, from 6 months for the former head of the finishing department to 70 months for the former plant manager. As well, the chairman and president, and other top managers, were assigned “required reading” by the court – the complete set of transcripts from the sentencing hearing, documenting these abuses.
In response to the publicity and prosecutions, McWane has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and hired new safety and environmental managers; it will replace over 90% of its top management. To make sure the company stays on track during its probationary period, the court will assign a monitor to report on its compliance with environmental and employee health and safety regulations. McWane’s website mentions none of this. Instead, it brags:
“we have built our company into an industry leader in quality, efficiency, workplace safety, environmental stewardship, and community involvement … We take great pride in the way we do business here at McWane…. We excel in environmental, health and safety practices. We have the best programs and EHS management systems in the industry that often exceed environmental and worker safety requirements.”
For more details, see:
- Cast Iron Pipe Maker Fined $8M, Four Execs Imprisoned (Apr 27 2009)
- United States v. Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Company et al. Fact Sheet – includes summary of trial verdicts and background
- FBI – Department of Justice Press Release: Cast Iron Pipe Manufacturer Sentenced for Environmental Crimes and Worker Safety Violations – Four Former Managers Sentenced to Prison Time (Apr 24 2009)