Tonawanda Coke: Get Lost and Good Riddance

I can't believe I am still writing about this. It's been nearly 15 years since I unexpectedly became an environmental activist wanting to figure out why so of my neighbors and I were sick. We retrofitted a Home Depot® bucket into an air sampler and ended up discovering the deadly chemical benzene. Working with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), we discovered that a significant amount of our toxic air was coming from a local factory called Tonawanda Coke.

Because of our collaboration with the DEC and running a successful community organizing campaign using citizen science, we are breathing cleaner air (92% reduction in benzene) in our communities. Thats old news, right?

The latest results and news from NYS DEC air monitors continue to show we are not in harms way (benzene-wise) due to their latest shenanigans. However, a series of violations raised red flags again last week! Now, we are still awaiting the results of the 24/7 particulate air monitor that was installed after the company was issued a cease and desist notice by the DEC. The reason? For violating their air permit (by over100 times, I might add).

Long story short, Tonawanda Coke has long overstayed their welcome and we want them gone! Whether the latest air pollution results detect an elevation in air toxins or not, we don't care. We gave them a second chance after the new management took over a few years. But since this time,  our community continues to be on guard and we have a constant "on the edge of our seat" feeling whether or not there will be another upset or violation at the plant that we must endure.

Bottom line: Enough is enough and I think I can say this with confidence on behalf of all of us that have endured your mess for decades, "Get lost and good riddance!"