Tyler Pipe Fined $4.5 Million, Guilty Of Felonies - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/22/05-Tyler

Tyler Pipe Fined $4.5 Million, Guilty Of Felonies

One of Tyler's largest employers is fined $4.5 million. And the U.S. Attorney's office is calling it the first criminal prosecution of its kind.

Tyler Pipe pleaded guilty to two felony counts of concealing facts from the Environmental Protection Agency and violating the federal Clean Air Act.

The U.S. Attorney's office says the number of residents affected by Tyler Pipe's pollution in Smith County and surrounding areas is "astronomical."

The judge said what it all boils down to is the company "deceived" the government.

From December 1998 through January 1999, Tyler Pipe began replacing the south plant's cupola, a large furnace that turns scrap metal into molten iron. Under the Clean Air Act, Tyler Pipe was required to apply for permission from the EPA to construct and operate the new cupola. That would have required Tyler Pipe to control its emissions using the best available technology.

But the U.S. Attorney's office says the company, instead, decided to hide the cupola's construction.

"We find it particularly egregious in the sense Tyler Pipe sought to take advantage of the Clean Air Act in order to not invest in the technology that's required under the Clean Air Act to protect Smith County and the surrounding community," Daniel Dooher, litigant for the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice, said.

"We assume the responsibility for the past and we're looking forward to move beyond where we're at right now and to be a leader in the industry in the area of environmental compliance," David Green, Tyler Pipe's president, said.

Green refused to answer any more questions, including why they deceived the government and violated the Clean Air Act.

The company will face 5 years' probation. During that time, Tyler Pipe will have to install new equipment to make it the cleanest, safest, and most advanced facility in the country.

There's also a civil proceeding between Tyler Pipe and the EPA. Tyler Pipe's attorney says the fine in that case will likely top $1 million.

Julie Tam, reporting. jtam@kltv.com

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