BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The final bill is in for the Tonawanda Coke Corporation, and it’s costly. Between civil and criminal penalties, they’ll be forced to shell out over $40 million.
Tonawanda Coke was found to be in violation of the Clean Water Act for polluting the local water table by releasing wastewater into the Niagara River. Chemicals they released include cyanide, ammonia and naphthalene. Officials who investigated the violations say the actions of the corporation put in danger not just human health in the local area, but could have permanently damaged the local ecology and economy.
As such, the corporation will have to pay out $12.5 million in criminal fines, along with $12.2 million to fund a public health study. In addition to the criminal penalties, they’ll be forced to pay out millions for civil penalties.
Of the $12 million civil settlement, the corporation will be forced to pay out nearly $3 million in penalties, spend nearly $8 million to reduce air and water pollution while improving air and water quality, along with spending about $1.3 million on environmental projects, along with paying over $350,000 to Ducks Unlimited.
After settling, the company isn’t just required to pay out money, its leaders will also have to take action. They’ll be expected to perform the following:
- Repair or replace equipment in the byproducts area
- Install and operate pushing controls at the coke oven battery by the end of 2015.
- Install a continuous monitoring system on the battery stack.
- Comply with the particulate emission limits at the bag house stack.
- Improve coke battery work practices, operations and maintenance.
- Expand and improve the facility’s leak detection and repair program.
- Adopt a plan to control dust that is generated by its operations at the facility and reduce particulate emissions.
- Undergo a comprehensive evaluation by a third party to assess its furnace coke production, coke oven walls and key elements.
“Tonawanda Coke has been an environmental outlaw for too long,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said. “Today’s legal settlement will provide greater public health protections for the people of Western New York. I particularly want to thank the residents of Tonawanda, their elected officials, the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and the Citizen Science Community Resources who all shined a spotlight on these pollution problems. The community did their own air toxic monitoring, which revealed high levels of pollution. This fine example of citizen science spurred government action to protect the community.”