March 29, 2013

On Thursday, March 28th, a Buffalo, New York, jury returned guilty verdicts on 14 of the 19 criminal charges against Tonawanda Coke for violating the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  In addition, Tonawanda Coke Environmental Controls Manager, Mark Kamholz, 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.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 15th. Tonawanda Coke and Kamholz could face over $200 million in fines, and Kamholz could be sentenced up to 75 years in prison for obstructing justice.

During this month-long trial, over 30 witnesses, including former and current Tonawanda Coke employees testified about clean air violations and improper handling of hazardous waste materials.  Six of the 19 charges that were brought against the coke manufacturer dealt with a bleeder valve that spewed coke oven emissions with benzene into the air. Other violations of federal law include storing and disposing of hazardous waste materials without a permit to do so.

Earlier this year, the New York State Department of Health published its health outcomes review and found "statistically significant elevations" of cancer and birth defects in the neighboring communities surrounding Tonawanda Coke.

For more information regarding the trial and charges against Tonawanda Coke and Mark Kamholz, visit the Buffalo News.

The law firm of Lipsitz & Ponterio is dedicated to representing coke oven workers who may have developed lung or other cancers as a result of their exposure to toxic coke oven emissions. If you or a loved one worked at any of the various coke oven operations around the area, including Bethlehem Steel, Donner Hanna, or Tonawanda Coke and if you are suffering from mesothelioma, lung or other cancers, please contact us to discuss a potential legal claim. Former coke oven workers, even if they smoked cigarettes, may have valuable claims that can be pursued in Court against companies responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of coke ovens. Our services include lawsuits against manufacturers and claims under the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law.