Martin-Marietta Moves onAcquiring Vulcan Materials

Martin-Marietta Materials, a Raleigh, N.C.-based aggregate supplier, made a tender offer on Dec. 12 to acquire Birmingham, Ala.-based Vulcan Materials Co. M-M has offered one of its shares for every two shares of Vulcan, a deal roughly valued at $4.7 billion. Vulcan operates in the Southeast, Southwest and California. M-M operates in the mid-Atlantic states, the Southeast and Midwest. M-M CEO C. Howard Nye, in a letter to Vulcan CEO Donald M. James, noted that the firms had been in merger discussions for over a year and a half but that Vulcan had broken off talks. Vulcan's board has told shareholders not to sell their shares until it has considered the offer. While California is Vulcan's biggest market, a combined M-M/Vulcan could help Granite Construction, Watsonville, Calif., which has that state's biggest aggregate reserves, says Avram Fisher, industry sector analyst in BMO Capital Markets' New York City office. M-M/Vulcan "would be heavily Southeast-focused," potentially drawing attention away from California markets, benefiting Granite, he says.


New ASCE Study Looks at Cost Of Delaying Investments

Commissioned by the American Society of Civil Engineers, an economic analysis on the unmet needs of public water and wastewater systems paints a grim future for the U.S. economy: If current spending levels remain unchanged, the costs associated with unreliable delivery and inadequate treatment may cut the nation's gross domestic product by as much as $416 billion over the next decade. Lacking any new investment in this infrastructure sector, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2010 estimate of a $55-billion shortfall in maintenance and upgrade needs could balloon to $84 billion by 2020 and nearly double to $144 billion by 2040. The study, "Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Water and Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure," is the second of four ASCE-commissioned assessments of infrastructure spending.


Schneider Electric Gives CashFor Counterfeits

Schneider Electric is offering cash rewards of up to $100,000 for tips on counterfeits that result in a successful enforcement action, such as a seizure of goods or conviction. The Palatine, Ill.-based company manufactures such electrical brands as APC, Square D and Clipsal. It has been fighting counterfeiting for years, including recent incidents that resulted in recalls of hundreds of thousands of circuit breakers. "Counterfeit products have a negative impact on the economy, mislead the consumer and, in the case of electrical products, have the ability to kill or injure someone," says Stephen Litchfield, deputy general counsel. More details about the program are at Schneider's website,


Feds and D.C. Settle With Utility Over Anacostia River Cleanup

The U.S. government and the District of Columbia have reached a settlement with Washington, D.C.-based Washington Gas Light Co. to begin cleanup of a polluted area along the Anacostia River in southeast D.C. The settlement, announced on Dec. 12, requires Washington Gas to excavate and remove up to three feet of soil contaminated with coal tar, heavy metals and other pollutants from the edge of the Anacostia River as well as subsurface soil covering the entire portion of the site, which is now owned and managed by the District of Columbia. Washington Gas, which once manufactured gas near the contaminated area, also will pay for a comprehensive investigation of groundwater and sediment contamination caused by the plant. Cleanup of any contamination in groundwater and sediments in the Anacostia will be addressed in a future settlement or enforcement action, federal officials said. In addition to investigation, remediation and oversight costs, the Dec. 12 settlement requires Washington Gas to pay $500,000 to the National Park Service, $160,000 to the Environmental Protection Agency and $70,000 to D.C. to reimburse investigation and enforcement costs.


Ex-Corps Official Gets Prison Term for Iraqi Bribe Scheme

A former Army Corps of Engineers official was sentenced on Dec. 9 in federal court to 20 months in prison for conspiring to take bribes from Iraqi companies working on reconstruction in that country, says the U.S. Justice Dept. The former Corps employee, Thomas Aram Manok, admitted he conspired with Iraqi contractors to take bribes in exchange for recommending that the Corps approve contracts with those firms.