State Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-I-Buffalo, today submitted a letter to the chief district judge of the U.S. District Court asking for the maximum fine that is allowed by law to be handed to Tonawanda Coke Corp. for the illegal actions and willful violation of environmental law, which Grisanti's camp said resulted in health-related problems and illnesses for some residents who live near the Tonawanda Coke facility.
Grisanti is chairman of the State Senate's Environmental Conservation Commission. He said his request to Chief District Judge William M. Skretny for the maximum monetary penalty against Tonawanda Coke calls for accountability to be taken upon the corporation.
"My letter to Judge Skretny was written on behalf of my constituents who live in the City of Tonawanda, Town of Tonawanda, Town of Grand Island, City of Buffalo and surrounding areas who are now dealing with serious health problems because of Tonawanda Coke's blatant criminal actions," Grisanti said. "I strongly urged him to impose a fine for their direct violation of environmental laws that were put on the books to keep our communities clean and safe."
In addition to the health-related problems that some residents are suffering from, Grisanti also addressed the concerns many residents and elected officials from the Tonawanda area have because of their association with Tonawanda Coke.
"We have many great people doing wonderful things in the Tonawandas that help raise our region's image, but their efforts have recently suffered because of the negative feedback that Tonawanda Coke has brought to the area," Grisanti said. "Due to the proximity of their facility, Tonawanda Coke has given a black eye to the community. Their inexcusable behavior and illegal actions tarnished our region's reputation."
Grisanti also requested in his letter to Skretny that the fines levied be earmarked for a specific purpose.
"I feel very strongly that all fines imposed on Tonawanda Coke stay right in this community and he held until an assessment of the full damage can be conducted," Grisanti said. "That money should go towards funding future projects that will enhance the health, welfare and environment that was directly impacted by the corporation's illegal actions."