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Industrial plant fined for $12.5 million for Clean Air Act violations; manager faces up to 75 years in prison

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    Digital writers

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 4:35 PM -

    People across western New York can finally breathe a sigh of relief. 

    The western New York industrial plant, Tonawanda Coke Corp., has been fined $12.5 million for illegally releasing the carcinogen benzene into the air and improperly handling hazardous sludge. 

    The company, situated along the Niagara River, was sentenced in federal court Wednesday, where it was convicted last year of Clean Air Act Violations. 

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    For many, however, the charges came too little, too late -- as they followed years of complaints from neighbours about black soot and high cancer rates. 

    The company was also ordered to spend more than $12 million on health and environmental studies. 

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    Company environmental manager Mark Kamholz was convicted of obstruction for moving to hide problems from an inspector. He faces up to 75 years in prison. 

    Tonawanda Coke burns coal to produce coke, used in steelmaking. 

    With files from The Associated Press

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