Tonawanda News

The Town

February 28, 2013

Tonawanda Coke trial kicks off


Tonawanda News — After the opening statements, the prosecution called its first expert witness, Alfred Carlacci, a Regional Air Pollution Control Engineer for the DEC who performed inspections at Tonawanda Coke and many other local plants. 

Carlacci is serving as an expert on the Clean Air Act for the prosecution, and Mango began questioning him Wednesday afternoon amid numerous objections from the defense team, heard by Judge William Skretny.

During direct examination, Mango entered a number of documents into evidence, including photographs of the plant, letters from Kamholz and Tonawanda Coke founder and CEO J.D. Crane to the DEC, and letters from the DEC to the corporation. 

In one of the letters, Kamholz and Crane asked the DEC if they could refrain from installing a baffle in one of the quench towers, which they said was only used on an emergency basis — or about 10 percent of the time. 

The DEC cautiously agreed. 

“If at a future time, any of the justifications are no longer valid, compliance ... may be required,” the DEC wrote back. 

Mango is likely to argue the tower was being used much more frequently, and therefore the plant should have voluntarily reported the changes to the DEC and installed the baffles.

Direct and cross examination of Carlacci, as well as Tonawanda Coke employees who will serve as witnesses, will continue today. Attorneys said the trial is expected to last between three and four weeks.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150

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