Union Foundry, a division of McWane Inc. of Birmingham, Alabama, has pleaded guilty and will pay a $4.5 million fine in connection with a federal environmental crime and a safety violation that led to the death of a maintenance employee in 2000. The Anniston-based company, which makes ductile cast iron fittings, was charged with willfully violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act by allowing an employee to work in the area of a conveyor belt while it was operating without a safety guard. The employee, an electrician who had served in the Navy,was killed on August 22, 2000.
Union Foundry was also charged with treating hazardous waste generated by the foundry without the appropriate permits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. Prosecutors said this occurred from December 1997 to May 2000. The waste was dust from air emissions of the iron furnace, which had the characteristics of lead and cadmium. McWane had been warned multiple times and it didn’t take action soon enough. McWane is a $1.9 billion-a-year company based in Birmingham, with 23 plants in North America. The company and three of its executives were convicted of environmental crimes by a federal jury in June.
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