Tonawanda Coke officials appeared in Federal court Tuesday to answer to ongoing air pollution violations.
Judge William Skretny delayed a decision that could result in the shut down of Tonawanda Coke.
Judge Skretny gave the company more time to explain what it is doing to protect people from breathing in hazardous pollutants. He says he wants more information on how the company is modifying its day to day operations.
“The fact that they’re given more time to do more harm is leaving a lot of people with a lot of anger,” said Rebecca Newberry, Executive Director for the Clean Air Coalition.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Mango requested an immediate hearing to find out if the company violated a 2014 sentencing agreement. That agreement included a pledge from the company not to commit any other federal, state or local crimes.
“If that’s the case, we’re then going to ask they shut down until they can comply with the law,” said Mango.
The judge did not rule on the federal prosecutor’s request, instead he told the company to respond in writing and then scheduled another appearance for Monday.
Several state leaders and residents are calling on the company to stop any operation until all issues at the plant are fixed.
Tonawanda Coke is expected to continue operating up until their next court appearance.
“What they want is their cake and eat it too, they want to work on it while continuing to spew dirty stuff into the environment,” said Senator Chris Jacobs.
“I mean how many second chances do you get, I think it’s time for us to demand more,” said Grand Island Supervisor Nathan McMurray.
In court, attorneys for the company said they have spent more than $500,000 to address opacity issues. The company also claimed to have hired a consultant to find the cause of those issues.
In past months, the NYSDEC found more than one hundred opacity violations and other problems which ultimately resulted in a cease and desist order.
“We have to sit there and breathe that disgusting air every single day, those guys get to go home and live in their clean air environment, we have to live with it 24/7,” said Paul Leuchner, Grand Island resident.
Tonawanda Coke and Federal prosecutors are scheduled back in court on Monday at 2 pm.
The company is scheduled for a separate hearing in October with the DEC as they appeal a cease and desist order.