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Massachusetts charges epoxy supplier in 'Big Dig' ceiling collapse

[JURIST] The Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General [official website] announced the indictment [press release] Wednesday of anchoring and fastening product manufacturer Power Fasteners [corporate website] on one count of involuntary manslaughter for the July 10, 2006, ceiling panel collapse in Boston's Big Dig [official website; Wikipedia backgrounder] tunnel project that killed one person. Massachusetts authorities allege that Powers was aware that the wrong kind of its epoxy product was being used to anchor three-ton cement ceiling tiles, "and when provided with the opportunity, failed to differentiate to project managers between its Fast Set and Standard Set products." Powers is also accused of failing to disclose the information "in either its marketing material, or when it was specifically asked." If convicted, Powers faces a maximum fine of $1,000. Officials say that Massachusetts has also filed civil suits against Powers and construction contractors.

In July, the National Transportation Safety Board [official website] concluded that ceiling collapse was most likely caused by the "inappropriate use of an epoxy anchor adhesive" [press release; report, PDF] 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 said that the criminal investigation is ongoing. Reuters has more.

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