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Tonawanda Coke probation violation hearing picks up Monday

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A federal judge was expected to decide Friday whether or not Tonawanda Coke violated its probation, but a decision likely will not come until at least Monday.

The company was convicted of 14 environmental felonies back in 2013.

Friday morning, U.S. District Judge William Skretny said there is a lot to get to, but said he was determined to hear out both sides and issue a ruling.

The government says Tonawanda Coke violated the rules of its 2014 probation by exceeding 20 percent opacity from its waste heat stack. That's how clear or how dark the emissions are.

According to a DEC staff member, who the government called as a witness, the company at one point had opacity as high as 66 percent.

Tonawanda Coke fired back, arguing that measurement is just the visual observation of a DEC staffer and thus not an exact science.

The company has pushed to delay this hearing on the grounds that they were not given enough time to prepare. Judge Skretny denied that and says this issue demands an immediate response.

Tonawanda Coke says the government is playing to public pressure and stirring up fears without concrete proof.

Friday's proceedings wrapped up with witnesses called by the Tonawanda Coke Corporation. 

Attorneys for the company say TCC has limited production in order to address the opacity concerns. 

In a separate case, TCC will be court Oct. 10 to address a cease and desist order by the state DEC. 

This is a developing story. 


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