Thank Judge for Punishing Deadly Polluter

coke plant

Target: Honorable William Skretny, U.S. Judge

Goal: Thank Judge William Skretny for fining coke plant $12.5 million and sending its manager to jail for knowingly emitting hazardous pollutants

Tonawanda Coke Corporation, an industrial plant along the Niagara River in New York, knowingly emitted hundreds of tons of benzene, a carcinogen, into the air over a five-year period. The plant, which produced coke for making steel, also improperly disposed of hazardous sludge on the ground.

People who lived around the plant suffered from abnormally high rates of cancer. “I lost my mom, and through the trial I could connect the dots between when the benzene was in the air and when she needed blood transfusions,” Joyce Hogenkamp told Cadillac News. Hogenkamp’s 72-year-old mother died of heart failure in 2006, and she now has health issues of her own. The majority of cancer-causing toxin were released into the air around the plant between 2005 and 2009.

Tonawanda and its manager, Mark Kamholz, were recently convicted of federal environmental crimes. After a four-week trial, the company and manager were convicted of violating the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and of improper waste disposal. The judge fined Tonawanda $12.5 million to be paid while the company is on probation. Manager Mark Kamholz was fined $20,000 and sentenced to a year in jail for his role in obstructing justice and allowing a pressure relief valve to open and emit benzene gas for more than 10 seconds every 20 or 30 minutes during high production periods.

Sign the below petition to commend federal prosecutors and Judge William Skretny for convicting this industrial plant and its manager for intolerable pollution crimes. Local residents have been diagnosed with cancer and even lost their lives because of this plant’s senseless actions. Although those lives will never be repaired, hopefully their families can find peace in justice.


Dear Judge Skretny,

Thank you for upholding environmental law and convicting Tonawanda Coke Corporation and its manager for pollution crimes committed between 2005 and 2009. Local residents were exposed to toxic and cancer-causing chemicals that have resulted in life-threatening illness and even death. The fact that this company’s actions were knowing and intentional makes Tonawanda’s crimes even more serious in nature. 

Without the help of residents who initially brought attention to the disproportionate level of air pollutants around the industrial plant, this criminal company would have never been brought to justice. Thank you for listening to the evidence of federal prosecutors and defending innocent citizens whose lives have been directly affected. Let Tonawanda’s fate serve as an example of how environmentally irresponsible businesses are doomed to fail.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

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One Comment

  1. jackiejamescreedon says:

    Thank you forcechange for writing a spectacular letter to Judge Skretny. from Western NY and our community we are deeply grateful you initiated this sign on letter.

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