L-P's problems mount

  Officials at Lousiana-Pacific expected the worst and they got it. On July 16 the company and two former managers of its Olathe, Colo., waferboard plant were indicted on 56 counts including conspiracy, fraud and violation of environmental laws. Federal prosecutors and EPA criminal investigators charge that plant managers tampered with an emissions monitor in Olathe, Colo., and increased production at night when polluted smoke was harder to see. The corporation has also come under attack from its shareholders, some of whom filed a class action suit against L-P because officials said the expected indictment would not hurt profits. In the last year, the value of L-P on Wall Street dropped by more than 50 percent. In what may be its greatest financial and public-relations liability, L-P also faces massive consumer complaints about its waferboard siding: customers say the siding deteriorates and develops fungi after a few years under rain. "It's very much like a Presto (pressed-sawdust) log that gets wet," said Chris Brain, an attorney suing L-P on behalf of homeowners in Florida, California and Washington. The company's financial responsibility for those complaints could reach $300 million, reports The Oregonian. The company has already paid $l7 million in environmental fines in the past two years, and in l992 it paid $2.3 million to four families in Olathe who sued the company because of its air pollution.

* Shea Andersen
High Country News Classifieds