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1. PRINCIPAL DEFENDANT: McWane Cast Iron & Pipe Co.
N.D.  Alabama  CR-09-S-394-S
2. DEFENDANT: James Delk
N.D.  Alabama  CR-09-S-394-S
3. DEFENDANT: Michael Devine
N.D.  Alabama  CR-09-S-394-S
McWane Inc., one of the largest cast iron manufacturers in the country, pleaded guilty in federal district court in Birmingham, Alabama, for environmental crimes that occurred at its Birmingham facility, McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company. This was the fifth criminal prosecution of a McWane facility since 2005.

McWane pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of knowingly violating the Clean Water Act (CWA). James Delk, the former general manager and vice president of the Birmingham plant, pleaded guilty to eight counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act. Additionally, former plant manager Michael Devine pleaded guilty to five counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act.

Under the plea agreement, McWane was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $4 million and serve a five-year term of probation. As a condition of probation, McWane must perform a community service project, specifically the Greenwood Environmental project, in accordance with the requirements of a consent agreement between McWane and the Justice Department to be entered in federal district court. James Delk was sentenced to pay an $8,000 criminal fine and serve 36 months of probation. Michael Devine was sentenced to pay a $2,000 criminal fine and serve 24 months probation.

McWane operates iron foundries that manufacture cast iron pipe, fittings, valves, and hydrants in each of the country’s major market areas. The manufacturing process involves melting ferrous scrap metal in a water-cooled cupola furnace. Molten metal is centrifugally cast into pipe in water-cooled machines. The cast iron pipe is then annealed (heat treated), cleaned, tested, cement lined, painted and bundled for shipment.

Wastewater generated as a result of the manufacturing process contains several contaminants from the foundry, including oil, grease and zinc. Under the Clean Water Act, McWane was subject to a National Discharge Pollutant Elimination System (NPDES) permit that required it to treat its wastewater before discharging it into Avondale Creek, a waterway immediately adjacent to the Birmingham foundry. Avondale Creek flows into Village Creek, a tributary of Black Warrior River. McWane and the plant managers violated the NPDES permit repeatedly over an 18-month period, from 1999 to 2001. The violations caused the discharge of thousands of gallons of wastewater to be released to Avondale Creek during that time period.

The defendants were convicted previously at trial in June 2005, for criminal conduct involving the illegal discharges of wastewater into Avondale Creek. The convictions were overturned by the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the case was remanded to the district court for trial. The guilty pleas resolve the case against all three defendants.

September 21, 2009
The defendants were charged in superseding Indictments with violating the CWA {33 U.S.C. 1319(c)(1)(A) - negligent violation.}. They pled guilty.
CITATION: 18 U.S.C. 1001
December 29, 2009
McWane was sentenced to 60 months probation and ordered to pay a $4 million federal fine. Delk was sentenced to 36 months probation and ordered to pay an $8,000 federal fine. Devine was sentenced to 24 months probation and ordered to pay a federal fine in the amount of $2,500.
  • Clean Water Act (CWA)

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