DENVER -- Louisiana-Pacific Corp. pleaded guilty Wednesday to pollution violations and agreed to pay $37 million in penalties, including the biggest criminal fine in the 28-year history of the Clean Air Act.
The Portland, Ore.-based company was fined $5.5 million under the Clean Air Act for higher-than-allowed emissions from a plant that makes floorboards and siding in Olathe, about 250 miles west of Denver.
It was fined an additional $31 million for offenses such as doctoring reports, tampering with pollution monitoring equipment and lying to inspectors.
The company also was ordered to donate $500,000 to environmental groups.
"The major accomplishment of this criminal prosecution has been to reform a Fortune 500 corporation to make it obey the nation's environmental and fraud laws," said U.S. Attorney Henry Solano.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock, who approved the plea bargain, warned that further violations could get the company barred from government contracts, the lifeblood of a business that needs access to forest timber.
Company attorney Gary Wilkerson had no comment in court.
Louisiana-Pacific is the biggest U.S. manufacturer of oriented strand board, a plywood substitute made from wood chips that are glued and pressed together. The board is used as subflooring, sheathing and siding on houses.
The company employs about 13,000 people in the United States and in Canada and Ireland. It has sales of $2.49 billion last year.
A grand jury indicted the Olathe plant in 1995 and also charged former mill superintendent Robert Mann and former mill manager Dana Dulohery.
Mann pleaded guilty to tampering with equipment and falsifying pollution reports. He said the actions were done under pressure from superiors to increase production. He was fined $10,000 and given home detention and probation.
Dulohery pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five months in prison.
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