Saturday, January 30, 2010

EPA acts to Stop Coke Plant Pollution

Earlier posts described a surprise raid of the Tonawanda Coke plant by federal and state agents, and the arrest of the plant's environmental control manager. The Clean Air Coalition of Western NY continues to raise awareness about the plant's pollution on behalf of the local residents. The good news is that the EPA is responsive to the pollution problems, and is increasing pressure on the coke plant to clean up their act.

EPA vows to get tough on River Road plant

Tonawanda Coke told to fix violations
Judith Enck, regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, announced Thursday a series of violations against Tonawanda Coke that made it clear the company has escaped close notice for years by inspectors. The violations carry fines up to $35,000 a day, and Enck said the EPA would not be shy in pursuing them if Tonawanda Coke fails to act.

Clean Air Coalition of Western New York has complained about the mysterious illnesses and air pollution from Tonawanda Coke for the past four years.

But it took a protest outside Tonawanda Coke’s gates in October, and complaints to Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, plus Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and then Enck’s move to the EPA before anything happened.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Jackie James-Creedon, who founded the Clean Air Coalition after she was stricken with fibromylagia, an auto-immune disease.

Creedon and Erin Heaney, executive director of the coalition, spent a day with Enck in Albany after the protests in October and briefed her on Tonawanda Coke.

“The optimal outcome is that Tonawanda Coke fixes what is broken,” Heaney said. “We need to make sure that every step is taken to make sure the risk is as low as possible.”

“We’re doing what we can to control the benzene emissions to the greatest extent possible,” Enck said, “and this is very important, because benzene is a known human carcinogen.”
Read the report by Michael Beebe in The Buffalo News.

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