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McWane Pipe Manufacturing Facility in Texas Will Plead Guilty to Air Violations, Pay $4.5 Million

Release Date: 03/22/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: EPA Region 6, 214-665-2200

(Washington, D.C.-- 03/22/05) Tyler Pipe Company, a division of McWane Inc., has agreed to plead guilty to two felony counts, pay a criminal fine of $4.5 million, and undertake extensive upgrades at its iron foundry facility located near the City of Tyler in Smith County, Texas, arising from its illegal construction and operation of the facility's south plant cupola.

“This is the first federal criminal prosecution of its kind,” said Thomas V. Skinner, EPA’s acting Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Tyler knowingly failed to secure required air permits when it undertook construction, and it attempted to conceal its actions. That type of conduct will not be tolerated.”

“This prosecution and resulting agreement send a strong message to those in industry of their responsibility to uphold the laws that protect the public health and environment of their community,” Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division Thomas L. Sansonetti said. “If they seek to cover up operations at their facilities to try to avoid the cost of the technology required by law to protect the environment, they will be held responsible to the fullest extent possible.”

“The U.S. Attorney's Office aggressively enforces environmental laws in East Texas,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Orwig. “Corporate polluters should beware when it comes to the environment, taking shortcuts is a bad, long-term decision. We will continue to investigate and prosecute anyone who violates the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act.”

Tyler Pipe is one of the largest foundries in the U.S. It manufactures grey and ductile iron pipes and castings. Central to this process are Tyler Pipe's 60-foot north and south plant cupolas: large furnaces that melt scrap metal, such as shredded car bodies, to produce molten iron. The cupolas generate substantial air pollution, including significant emissions of particulate matter, carbon monoxide and lead.

From December 1998 through January 1999, Tyler Pipe razed its old south plant cupola and replaced it with a new cupola. Under the Clean Air Act’s prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) provisions, Tyler Pipe was required to apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for permission to construct and operate the new cupola. The Act would have required that pollution from the new cupola be controlled using the best available control technology. Instead, Tyler Pipe concealed the construction of the new cupola from the TCEQ and connected its new cupola to the existing pollution control device, a water scrubber designed and built in the 1960's.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said, “Emissions from this facility travel great distances and affect the health of communities far from Tyler, Texas. I am pleased that EPA, in coordination with our state and federal partners, has been able to use the effective enforcement tools provided by the Clean Air Act to protect human health and the environment while ensuring a level playing field for industry.”

Additionally, as a major pollution emitting facility, Tyler Pipe was required to apply for a Clean Air Act Title V permit. In an effort to conceal its knowing violation of the PSD provisions, Tyler Pipe claimed in its Title V permit application that the south plant cupola had not been modified since 1971, and was therefore not subject to the Clean Air Act's PSD or Title V requirements.

Pursuant to a plea agreement filed with the court, Tyler Pipe will plead guilty to one count which charges that from July 1999 through August 2000, it engaged in a scheme to cover up material facts from the TCEQ in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1001(a)(1). Tyler Pipe will plead guilty to a second count which charges that from December 1998 through October 2003, it knowingly constructed and operated the south plant cupola without applying for a PSD permit from the TCEQ, in violation of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 7413(c)(1). In addition to paying a criminal fine of $4.5 million, Tyler Pipe will be subject to probation for a period of five years, during which it will be required to upgrade a number of structures regulated under the Clean Air Act. The upgrades are estimated to cost approximately $12 million.

This investigation was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Criminal Investigation Division's Dallas Area Office and the Special Investigation Section of the TCEQ, with assistance from EPA Region 6 and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Daniel Dooher, Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold A. Spencer, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Cheryl Seager are handling the case for the United States.

More information about the Clean Air Act and PSD provisions is available at: .