[JURIST] An anchoring and fastening product manufacturer pleaded not guilty [AG press release] Wednesday to criminal charges stemming from the July 10, 2006 ceiling panel collapse in Boston's $15 billion Big Dig [official website] tunnel project that killed one person. Power Fasteners [corporate website] was indicted [press release; JURIST report] last month on one count of involuntary manslaughter based on allegations that Powers was aware that the wrong kind of its epoxy product was being used to anchor three-ton cement ceiling tiles but failed to alert project managers either through marketing materials or when specifically asked. Powers has maintained that it was unaware that its epoxy product would be used to support the ceiling of the tunnel. If convicted, Powers faces a maximum fine of $1,000 but a conviction may also aid the civil lawsuits that Massachusetts has also filed against Powers and construction contractors. A pretrial conference is set for October 16. Reuters has more.
In July, the National Transportation Safety Board [official website] concluded that the ceiling collapse was most likely caused [press release; report, PDF] by the "inappropriate use of an epoxy anchor adhesive" by construction contractors Gannett Fleming, Inc and Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff [corporate websites]. The "Big Dig" project, which began construction in 1991, is the most expensive highway project in the United States and has cost approximately $15 billion. The charge against Power Fasteners is the first criminal action taken in connection with the collapse. The Massachusetts attorney general has said that the criminal investigation is ongoing.