BUFFALO, N.Y. — The legal battle over whether to shut down the Tonawanda Coke plant played out in U.S. District Court Tuesday.
The judge in this case, Honorable William Skretny, wants to gather as much information as possible before deciding whether to pull the plug on the plant.
Attorneys for Tonawanda Coke were in federal court Tuesday to face questions the company violated its probation. That's the accusation from federal prosecutors who want to shut down the company until it complies with the law.
"That's a serious request. That's a fair request based on the case that we had which showed repeated, numerous, sustained violations for decades," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Mango.
Prosecutors say the company violated the terms of a 2014 criminal sentence and continues to release hazardous chemicals,” polluting the air that the citizens of Grand Island and Tonawanda have to breath, and it can't continue anymore," said Mango.
Company lawyers told the judge Tonawanda Coke has taken steps to fix and address its issues. The judge has asked for a more detailed day-to-day modification plan, as others called on the plant to shut down until the plan's in place.
"Residents don't have to suffer and breathe this in while you try to figure it out and continue to make money. And that's what they're not agreeing to do," said State Senator Chris Jacobs.
Environmental leaders on hand were calling on the company to comply with the law and clean up its act.
"We hope that in the next week, the judge requires Tonawanda Coke to submit an emergency response plan, and also emergency closure plan to ensure that the surrounding community is safe," said Rebecca Newberry, executive director of the Clean Air Coalition.
"We as a community do not trust this company. We gave them a chance, we gave them a second chance. We do not trust them. We want them to shut their doors," said Jackie James-Creedon of Citizens Science Community Resources Director.
The company also faces a state cease-and-desist hearing from the Department of Environmental Conservation October 10.
Both sides due back in Federal court Monday.