Tonawanda Coke and Employee Plead Not Guilty in Federal Court

August 3, 2010 Updated Aug 3, 2010 at 6:02 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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August 3, 2010 Updated Aug 3, 2010 at 6:02 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) - It's been two years since Eyewitness News first introduced you to residents in Tonawanda-- who say that Tonawanda Coke is poisoning the air they breathe.

Tuesday, in Federal Court, another step in their fight.

That's where Tonawanda Coke and employee Mark Kamholz, the plant's environmental control manager, answered to a 20 count indictment handed up by a Grand Jury.
"These are charges that relate to crimes against the environment," says Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Mango.
15 of the charges are for violating the clean air act.
They face 5 more charges because investigators say the plant released dangerous toxins into the air-- including benzene which is known to cause cancer.
Kamholz is also accused of trying to cover up emissions-- during an inspection by investigators.
"To hide the fact that coke oven gas was being released into the atmosphere." Said Mango.
Today, in Federal Court, through their attorneys, both the plant and Kamholz plead not guilty.
Attorneys are not yet ready to reveal their defense strategy.
"The burden at this point and up until trial is on the government to prove these allegations and they are nothing more than that at this point," says Gergory Linsin, the Attorney for Tonawanda Coke.