From the USEPA Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training
Environmental Crimes Case Bulletin for March 2013
On March 28, 2013, TONAWANDA COKE CORPORATION (TCC) was convicted by a federal jury in federal district court for the Western District of New York of 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act and three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. In addition, Tonawanda Coke Environmental Control Manager, MARK L. KAMHOLZ, of West Seneca, N.Y., was found guilty of 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act, one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The charges carry a maximum combined penalty up to 75 years in prison and fines in excess of $200 million. Sentencing is scheduled for July 15, 2013.
The offenses related to the release of coke oven gas containing benzene into the air through an unreported pressure relief valve. In addition, a coke-quenching tower was operated without baffles, a pollution control device required by TCC’s Title V Clean Air Act permit designed to reduce the particulate matter that is released into the air during coke quenches. In addition, prior to an inspection conducted by EPA in April of 2009, Kamholz told another TCC employee to conceal the fact that the unreported pressure relief valve, during normal operations, emitted coke oven gas directly into the air, in violation of the TCC’s operating permit. The defendants also stored, treated and disposed of hazardous waste without a permit to do so, in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. These offenses related to TCC’s practice of mixing its coal tar sludge, a listed hazardous waste that is toxic for benzene, on the ground in violation of hazardous waste regulations. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and investigators of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police.