After years of hard work, on March 19th, 2014 our community sighed a bit of relief after Judge Skretny sentenced Tonawanda Coke and its environmental control manager, Mark Kamholtz, at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Buffalo.
Tonawanda Coke was found guilty in March 2013 of breaking 14 federal laws under the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Mr. Kamholz was found guilty on the same counts and on an additional count of obstruction of justice.
Although the maximum sentence was not imposed against Tonawanda Coke, Judge Skretny forced the company to fund two environmental community studies totally $12.2 million!! His decision was historical and also included $12.5 million in fines for violating the Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This is one of the largest fines ever levied in an air pollution case involving a federal criminal trial.
Judge Skretny’s decision also included sending Mr Kamholz to jail for one year and a day plus a $20,000 fine!
“People living and working in the Tonawanda community were exposed to toxic coke oven emissions that may have serious effects on their health and I commend the hard-working residents who have stood up to a major local polluter,” said Judith A. Enck, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator.
And what is the message Judge Skretny is sending to all those other industrial polluters that try to put profits ahead of people? To continuously poison a community and try to cover it up, is unacceptable.