The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — A local environmental group will hold a community forum to discuss the upcoming sentencing of Tonawanda Coke and present recent soil test results, a press release issued Thursday states.
The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on March 3 at the Sheridan Parkside Community Center. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron Mango and Rocky Piaggione will provide a sentencing update at the event regarding their position that residents who live nearby Tonawanda Coke should be allowed to be classified as victims of the plant’s crimes.
“It is the prosecution’s position that certain community members living and working in the vicinity of Tonawanda Coke may potentially be classified as victims because they have suffered a harm under the Crime Victim’s Rights Act,” a press release from the Citizen Science Community Resources, the group organizing the meeting, states. “If you have been exposed to Tonawanda Coke’s pollution and believe that you have suffered a harm, you should attend.”
The announcement comes after a hearing in October, when Tonawanda Coke attorneys argued that there is no legal basis to name the community as a victim in the case.
But the government has said that it will ask the court to “impose certain community service obligations on defendant Tonawanda Coke to repair the harm caused by the defendants’ crimes.”
The Clean Air Coalition and local governments have also requested that the company fund environmental projects in the area surrounding the Town of Tonawanda plant.
The sentencing, set for March 19, will come almost a year after a jury found the River Road plant guilty of violating the Clean Air Act and the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act. Mark Kamholz, the company’s environmental compliance manager, was also found guilty of obstruction of justice, a charge that stems from his actions prior to a 2009 Environmental Protection Agency inspection.
The charges carry a maximum of 75 years in prison and more than $200 million in fines.
Citizen Science Community Resources, founded by activist Jackie James Creedon, will also present soil test results at the event. The samples were taken from neighborhoods near the Tonawanda plant.
“The group believes contaminants coming from Tonawanda Coke could have migrated off site into people’s back yards,” the press release states.
A question and answer session will follow the presentations.IF YOU GO: WHAT: Tonawanda Coke community forum WHEN: 6:30 p.m., March 3 WHERE: Sheridan Parkside Community Center, 169 Sheridan Parkside Drive