PITTSBURGH An executive
at Tonawanda Coke Corp. faces up to 75 years in prison and
fines in excess of $200 million after a jury found him guilty
of breaking environmental laws.
Mark L. Kamholz, environmental
control manager at the Tonawanda, N.Y.-based merchant coke
maker, was convicted on 11 counts of violating the Clean Air
Act and three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA), as well as one count of obstruction of
justice by instructing an employee to conceal from inspectors
an unreported pressure relief valve that emitted coke-oven gas
directly into the air.
He is scheduled to be sentenced
"From the evidence of this case,
where literally hundreds of tons of coke-oven gas containing
benzene were released into the atmosphere and significant
quantities of hazardous waste containing benzene were left out
in the open, it would be hard to imagine a more callous
disregard for the health and well-being of the citizens of this
community," U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said.
The jury also convicted
Tonawanda Coke of storing, treating and disposing of toxic
waste without a permit and illegally mixing coal tar sludge on
"Tonawanda and Kamholz
intentionally deceived federal regulators by concealing the
companys violations of the Clean Air Act and the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act, which were enacted by Congress
to protect human health and the environment," said Ignacia S.
Moreno, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice
Departments environment and natural resources
Neither Kamholz nor Tonawanda
Coke could be reached for comment.
The company is facing
class-action lawsuits from residents concerned about their
health and property values, according to a spokeswoman for the
Clean Air Coalition of Western New York.
Tonawanda Cokes sister
plant, Erie, Pa.-based Erie Coke Corp., came under scrutiny but
was able to reach a settlement, paying a $300,000 penalty and
agreeing to gain compliance with federal environmental
amm.com, Aug. 24, 2011).