Tonawanda Coke Corporation was ordered Wednesday to pay nearly $25 million for violating federal environmental policies.
A federal jury, in March 2013, found the company guilty of 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act and three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, for which the company was fined $12.5 million and placed on five years’ probation.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny also ordered Tonawanda Coke to pay $12.2 million to fund two environmental studies to help determine the extent of health and environmental impacts the company has had in the community.
The fine is one of the largest ever levied in an air pollution case involving a federal criminal trial.
In addition, Tonawanda Coke Environmental Control Manager Mark L. Kamholz, 66, of West Seneca, was sentenced to 12 months in prison and fined $20,000. He was convicted of 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act, one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Tonawanda Coke, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango and Senior Trial Attorney Rocky Piaggione, released coke oven gas containing benzene into the air through an unreported pressure relief valve. In addition, a coke-quenching tower was operated without a required pollution control device.