Tonawanda Coke fined $12.5 million for polluting
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A western New York industrial plant has been fined $12.5 million for illegally releasing the carcinogen benzene into the air and improperly handling hazardous sludge.
Tonawanda Coke Corp., along the Niagara River, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Buffalo, where it was convicted last year of Clean Air Act violations.
The charges followed years of complaints from neighbours about black soot and high cancer rates. The company burns coal to produce coke, used in steelmaking.
A federal judge also ordered Tonawanda Coke to spend up to $12.2 million on health and environment studies.
Company environmental manager Mark Kamholz is expected to be sentenced later Wednesday. He was convicted of obstruction for moving to hide problems from an inspector.
About 20 civil suits involving more than 250 people are pending.