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Tonawanda Coke to spend $12 million to address environmental issues


Tonawanda Coke Corporation will pay $12 million in what state and federal regulators hail as a "historic" environmental settlement that targets problems at the company's River Road plant.

The settlement includes $7.9 million for air pollution reduction efforts and other improvements at the plant, $2.75 million in civil penalties and $1.3 million to fund environmental projects in the Tonawanda area.

Judith Enck, regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, described Tonawanda Coke as an "environmental outlaw" that has operated a plant that has been a major source of hazardous air pollutants.

"We will continue to watch Tonawanda Coke to ensure that the company does all that it has agreed to in these legal settlements, and that going forward, they are in full compliance with environmental laws," Enck told reporters during a conference call.

Jared Snyder, assistant commissioner for air resources at the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said he believes the settlement sends an important message.

"These penalties demonstrate that it doesn't pay to pollute, that it doesn't pay to violate the law," Snyder said.

A federal judge must approve the consent decree.

Regulators also previously lodged a criminal case against Tonawanda Coke.

EPA officials estimate that when penalties and other expenses incurred by Tonawanda Coke in civil and criminal actions are tallied, the company has incurred more than  $42 million in costs.

A spokesperson for Tonawanda Coke said the company planned to release a statement.

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