Tonawanda Coke, a sister plant to the Erie Coke operation outside Buffalo, was fined 12.5 million dollars by a federal judge, for Clean Air Act violations the judge called "wholly inexcusable."
An environmental officer with the plant was also sentenced to one year in jail and 20-thousand dollars in fines.
The penalties come following a finding last March, that Tonawanda Coke violated the Clean Air Act 14 times by releasing benzene into the air.
Benzene is a known cancer causing agent.
In announcing the fine the judge further criticized the company, saying it had "let the community down" by allowing the dangerous chemical into the air.