Company indicted in Big Dig tragedy

John O'Brien Aug. 13, 2007, 3:44pm

BOSTON - A New York-based company involved in the Big Dig construction project in Boston last week was indicted on one count of involuntary manslaughter and recently claimed Attorney General Martha Coakley should not be allowed to pursue the charge.

Powers Fasteners, Inc., marketed and distributed the epoxy anchor bolt system used on the I-90 Connector Tunnel. In July 2006, 38-year-old Milena Del Valle was killed when a suspended concrete ceiling panel collapsed on her vehicle.

The company says a public prosecutor may not pursue a criminal case while he or she also represents a client in a civil case, as Coakley does with the Commonwealth.

"Powers Fasteners' allegation of a conflict of interest is totally without merit," Coakley said. "The defendant should file whatever motions it chooses after it is arraigned on the involuntary manslaughter charge on Sept. 5, and those motions will be addressed in the only appropriate venue -- in court.

"Powers Fasteners has responded to the Grand Jury indictment the same way that it responded to the National Transportation Safety Board's comprehensive and compelling report. When the NTSB found that Powers failed to provide project managers and engineers with accurate information about the suitability of its Fast Set epoxy for sustained loads and also failed to identify creep as the cause of anchor displacement, Powers denied any responsibility or culpability for the tunnel collapse, and attacked the investigators."

The Central Artery Tunnel Project, also known as the Big Dig, is designed to ease traffic congestion on Boston's main highways. Its construction began in 1991.

Last month, Aggregate Industries Northeast Region agreed to plead guilty and pay $50 million to settle its criminal and civil liabilities as a result of allegations that it was conducting a fraudulent concrete scheme during the Big Dig.

"The investigation into the death of Milena Del Valle and the tunnel ceiling collapse is extraordinarily complicated and involves a number of different parties," said Attorney General Coakley. "(The) indictment represents one of several phases in reaching a just result for both the Commonwealth and the family of Milena Del Valle. We continue to work diligently on both our criminal and civil investigations, and as they proceed to additional phases and the conclusion of those phases, we are committed to transparency with the public as we reach additional results."

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