Tonawanda Coke, manager face penalty for polluting

Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A western New York industrial plant and its environmental controls manager face sentencing Wednesday for illegally releasing the carcinogen benzene into the air and improperly handling hazardous sludge.

Tonawanda Coke Corp., along the Niagara River, and manager Mark Kamholz are due in federal court in Buffalo, where they were convicted following a trial last year. Jurors also found Kamholz guilty of obstruction for moving to hide problems from an inspector.

The charges followed years of complaints from neighbors about black soot and high cancer rates. The company burns coal to produce coke, used in steel making.

Kamholz is expected to receive up to 3 years and 5 months in prison. The government is seeking $57 million in fines for the company.

About 20 civil suits involving more than 250 people are pending in state court.

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