US Court of Appeals affirms Tonawanda Coke sentence

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The United States Court of Appeals has affirmed the sentencing of Tonawanda Coke Corporation after they violated the Clean Air Act.

Tonawanda Coke was convicted of 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act and three counts of violating the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act back in March 2013. They were sentenced to pay a $12.5 million fine and five years probation during which they would have to fund two community service projects at a cost of $12.2 million.

The charges stem from Tonawanda Coke releasing coke oven gas containing benzene into the air through an unreported pressure valve and operating without a pollution control device required by their Clean Air Act permit.

Mark Kamholz, Tonawanda Coke’s Environmental Control Manager, was sentenced to 12 months in prison and a $20,000 fine for his involvement in the situation, which included an obstruction of justice charge.

“Today’s decision by the Court of Appeals represents a complete victory for the community and country,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. “No one should be allowed to intentionally poison the public, and our prosecutions of both Tonawanda Coke and Mark Kamholz make this abundantly clear.  Second, this Office will pursue all available means to remedy the harm caused by the actions of criminals of any type, whether individual or corporate.”

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