NY coke plant fined $12.5 million for polluting

AP News
Posted: Mar 19, 2014 2:22 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — An industrial plant's environmental manager has been sentenced to a year in jail and fined $20,000 for his role in illegal releases of the carcinogen benzene into the air and improper handling of hazardous sludge.

Mark Kamholz was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Buffalo, where Tonawanda Coke Corp. was fined $12.5 million earlier in the day for violating the Clean Air Act.

Prosecutors sought a sentence of three years, five months for Kamholz, whom they described as the one person who could have prevented the pollution. But a judge decided on the shorter term.

The plant along the Niagara River burns coal to produce coke, used in steelmaking.

Last year's convictions of Kamholz and the company followed years of complaints from neighbors about black soot and high cancer rates.