TONAWANDA, NY-- Tonawanda Coke is expected to file plans with the state to shut down.
According to court filings, the government has obtained information that Tonawanda Coke plans to begin a shutdown on or about October 16, 2018.
Judge William M. Skretny ruled October 9 that Tonawanda Coke had until November 13 to make its final community payment. This payment was part of a 2014 sentence.
However, the government believes "Tonawanda Coke does not intend to make its final community service payment of $2,037,291," and is asking for Tonawanda Coke for its financial records.
Last month, Judge Skretny found Tonawanda Coke guilty of violating its probation by having a higher than acceptable opacity of its emissions. However, the judge ruled the company can still operate, but he modified and added to the company's probation.
There are three parts to the modified probation: 1) Fix the coke oven battery 2) complete a battery test protocol within 60 days of battery repairs 3) get third party monitoring of the operations.
The U.S. Attorney's office filed a motion in federal court Friday after a chemical engineer working for the EPA on the Tonawanda Coke case said the company informed the EPA and DEC of its shut down plan Wednesday night.
The engineer says on Thursday, Tonawanda Coke released more details saying it planned to charge the last coke oven Tuesday and "tell all but 10 employees that the facility was shutting down." According to the engineer, the company would use those ten remaining employees to shut down the plant. The engineer also raised environmental concerns. And, he told prosecutors Tonawanda Coke said it was in such bad financial straits it only had payroll for one week.
The US Attorney's office requested financial records because Tonawanda Coke previously said a shutdown would "doom its ability to make the final community service payment."
In 2013, Tonawanda Coke became only the second company in the country's history to be convicted of violating the Clean Air Act. Tonawanda Coke released benzene into the air and it was sentenced to pay millions in fines and another $12.2-million to fund impact and environmental studies.
Friday night, the DEC announced the state would oversee a safe shutdown of Tonawanda Coke and that the company intends to surrender its air permits which allow it to operate.
The Department of Labor says it will assist workers who lose their jobs. The DOL will also provide services at the following locations:
- Buffalo Career Center, 284 Main Street, Buffalo (716) 851-8258
- Niagara Falls Career Center, Trott ACCESS Building, 1001 11th Street, Niagara Falls (716) 278-8258
The New York State Department of Conservation issued this statement:
DEC cannot comment on the details of the discussions between the Administrative Law Judge and the parties’ attorneys. An update on the status of the hearing will be provided by the Judge next week. DEC remains committed to ensuring the violations by this facility are appropriately addressed and their air permits are revoked.
Grand Island Supervisor, and candidate for congressional district 27, posted on Twitter that he was excited about the news regarding Tonawanda Coke.