DEC Cites Tonawanda Coke on More Air Quality Violations

September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 17, 2010 at 11:46 AM EDT

By WKBW Programming

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DEC Cites Tonawanda Coke on More Air Quality Violations

September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 17, 2010 at 11:46 AM EDT

ALBANY, NY (WKBW/DEC) -- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis announced Thursday that Tonawanda Coke Corp. has been cited for its failure to meet environmental standards at its facility in Tonawanda, Erie County.

The alleged violations were detailed in three "Notices of Violation" issued to the company, and are part of an ongoing, joint effort by DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve air quality in the local community.

"DEC is committed to taking enforcement action when necessary to make sure that Tonawanda Coke complies with all applicable clean air requirements," Commissioner Grannis said. "We will continue to monitor the Tonawanda facility's operations and work cooperatively with our federal partners at EPA to protect air quality in the community."

DEC cited Tonawanda Coke for:

-Violating air quality emission limits for opacity. DEC staff documented visible clouds of smoke -- in violation of opacity requirements and the company's operating permit - on several occasions in recent months.

-Violating the federal Clean Air Act by failing to operate and maintain air pollution control sources in a manner consistent with minimizing emissions. DEC staff observed negligent practices at the facility that resulted in the release of preventable emissions.

-Violating its air permit and the requirements of a 1981 "Consent Order" that set stringent limits on emissions caused by door leaks, off-take leaks and coal charging operations. Emission levels at the plant have exceeded established limits on numerous occasions from October 1999 to March 2010. Specifically, leaks from the battery doors and coke oven gas collection system exceeded emission limits on 103 days and 59 days respectively. In addition, coal charging operations exceeded the emission limit on 14 days during that time period.

Each of the above violations is punishable by a civil penalty up to $15,000, along with an additional penalty not to exceed $15,000 for each day that a violation continues.