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Union Foundry, a division of pipe maker McWane Inc., will plead guilty next month and pay a $4.25 million fine for an environmental crime and safety violation that led to the death of an employee, a federal prosecutor said. U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said attorneys for Union Foundry are scheduled to enter the plea Sept. 6. The agreement marks the third successful prosecution against McWane this year. Prosecutors charged the Anniston, Ala.-based Union Foundry with willfully violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act by allowing an employee, Reginald Elston, to work in the area of a conveyor belt while it was operating without a safety guard. Elston, an electrician, was killed Aug. 22, 2000. Union Foundry, which makes ductile cast iron fittings, also is 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. Martin joined officials from the EPA and FBI to announce the plea agreement Monday. She said the company will pay $3.5 million in criminal fines and $750,000 for federal agencies to spend on services to benefit the Anniston community. Doug Jones, an attorney for the company, said company officials were disappointed the Department of Justice chose to pursue the case in criminal court. He said the company has long corrected the problems. Martin said the company has made great strides since 2000 and has the problems solved. But she said there will be monitoring at Union Foundry and other McWane facilities to make sure they stay in compliance for environmental and safety issues. McWane, a major pipe manufacturer based in Birmingham, Ala., is a family-owned company with 23 plants in North America. In June, a federal court jury in Birmingham convicted McWane and three of its executives of environmental crimes involving illegal dumping in a Birmingham creek. In March in Tyler, Texas, Tyler Pipe, which is owned by McWane, pleaded guilty to two felonies and agreed to pay a $4.5 million fine. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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