McWane to resolve issues at facilities in 14 states

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Justice Department, and the states of Alabama and Iowa announced that McWane Inc., a national cast iron pipe manufacturer headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, has agreed to pay $4 million to resolve more than 400 violations of federal and state environmental laws. The settlement, filed in federal court, covers 28 of McWane’s manufacturing facilities in 14 states and also requires the company to perform seven environmental projects valued at $9.1 million.

“This is a comprehensive settlement that brings McWane into full environmental compliance at 28 facilities nationwide, and imposes a penalty on the company for its civil environmental violations at those facilities over the past decade,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “As a result of this agreement, McWane has completely re-engineered its environmental management systems to ensure that it remains in compliance, and has committed over $9 million to environmental projects that will remove significant amounts of pollutants from the environment and benefit the surrounding communities.”

The $4 million civil penalty will be divided among the United States, Alabama and Iowa. The environmental projects McWane will perform will address storm water contamination at numerous locations; reduce mercury emissions in Provo, Utah and Tyler, Texas; reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions in Bedford, Indiana and Anniston, Alabama; and enhance air quality in Coshocton, Ohio. Additionally, McWane has already undertaken corrective measures to resolve the violations, at a cost of more than $7.6 million.

As part of the settlement, the United States also required McWane to develop and implement a corporate wide environmental management system (EMS) to promote environmental compliance, achieve pollution prevention and enhance overall environmental performance.

The agreement now requires McWane to conduct an audit of the EMS to evaluate the adequacy of the system. In addition, McWane has modified its corporate-wide stormwater pollution prevention plan and will develop or upgrade facility-specific plans as part of the agreement.

At its Coshocton, Ohio iron foundry, McWane will operate a cupola furnace, which is a particulate emissions source, in accordance with its newly revised Clean Air Act Title V permit. The consent decree further establishes operating conditions and emission limits for the furnace, and is separately enforceable by EPA.

In the past, multiple McWane divisions and facilities have been the subject of criminal investigations that have resulted in five federal prosecutions. As a result, the company has paid more than $25 million in criminal fines and penalties and spent approximately $5 million on environmental projects. Company executives have been sentenced to prison terms of up to 70 months and the company and certain executives have been placed on probation.

The proposed settlement agreement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Birmingham Division, is subject to a 30 day public comment period and approval by the federal court.