Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Communities

January 31, 2014

Explosion at Tonawanda Coke shakes area

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The plant, which produces coke — a material used in the steel-making process — has a contentious history. Last year, the plant and its environmental manager, Mark Kamholz, were convicted of violating federal environmental laws. They will be sentenced in March, and the charges carry a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison for Kamholz and fines in excess of $200 million. 

The Occupational and Safety Health Administration has also fined the plant for worker injuries and violations. 

The Clean Air Coalition, which has led the fight against the plant for almost 10 years, released a statement Friday calling on OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to complete an in-depth investigation of the explosion.

"We understand the company stated this was a 'minor explosion and a small fire' but past self reporting from the company has been inaccurate and has put workers and residents at risk," Rebecca Newberry said in the statement.

The coalition is asking that the agencies investigate the cause of the explosion, what toxins were released and what the workers were exposed to. 

"The results of this investigation should be released to the community and workers as soon as possible," the statement said.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.

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