Tonawanda Coke to Pay $12M For Pollution

     (CN) – Tonawanda Coke Corp. will pony up more than $12 million in civil fines and improvements of its processes to reduce pollutants at its coke plants in northern New York.
     Tonawanda, the federal government and the state of New York agreed to the deal Monday in the Western District of New York.
     The facility, just north of Buffalo, N.Y., agreed to improve the way it processes to reduce coke oven gas leaks and “secure significant reductions of benzene, ammonia and particular matter emissions from the plant, improving air quality in Tonawanda and protecting public health,” the federal government said.
     The plant will pay $2.75 million in civil penalties, and must spend $7.9 million to reduce its air and water emissions. Another $1.3 million will be spent on environmental projects in the area, the Justice Department said.
     “The community that is home to the Tonawanda facility is finally receiving the protections it deserves from its neighbor,” Assistant Attorney General John Cruden said in a statement.
     The settlement requires the business to pay $1.75 in civil penalties to the United States for violating the Clean Air Act. The remaining $1 million will go to New York state.
     Tonawanda Coke will give $1 million for projects “that will benefit the environment and the residents of Tonawanda,” and another $357,000 will go to nonprofit Ducks Unlimited to preserve wetlands.
     Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said Tonawanda Coke “has been an environmental outlaw for too long.”
     Under the terms of the agreement, new controls will reduce particulate matter by up to 162 tons per year once set up, the Justice Department said.
     The federal government said Tonawanda’s Coke discharged wastewater into the Niagara River that included “excessive” amounts of cyanide, ammonia and naphthalene, and let its water-holding tanks decay.
     Tonawanda failed to report that it manufactured benzene and ammonia exceeding the 25,000 pound-per-year threshold per federal regulations, the feds said.
     Although the plant has resolved its issues with the federal government, it still faces a third-party audit.
     It is also under the purview of a court-ordered consent decree with the Western District of New York, which will be monitoring its compliance with the order.

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