Tag Archives: Tonawanda Coke

Tonawanda Coke: Indicted

30 Jul

Nearby residents have long suspected that emissions from Tonawanda Coke have literally been poisoning them.

An investigation has revealed, and a 15-count federal indictment has formally alleged, that Tonawanda Coke and its so-called “Environmental Control Manager” violated the Clean Air Act.

…five of these offenses relate to the release of coke oven gas containing benzene into the air through an unreported pressure relief valve. The remaining ten Clean Air Act counts relate to operating two coke-quenching towers without baffles, a pollution control device required by TCC’s Title V Clean Air Act permit designed to reduce the particulate matter that is released into the air during coke quenches. These charges carry a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $500,000 for the corporate defendant and $250,000 for defendant Kamholz, or both.

YNN’s Report is here.

Tonawanda Coke Raided

18 Dec


Ever inhale air on the Tonawanda side of the Grand Island Bridge?

The Clean Air Coalition has been targeting the likely culprit, Tonawanda Coke, which was found in October to be emitting 75 times the normal volume of benzene from its River Road facility.

Benzene causes cancer. People living downwind from Tonawanda Coke are getting cancers at abnormally high levels. The owner of Tonawanda Coke rejects the notion that his plant is the major source of benzene in the air in Tonawanda and Grand Island, and claims that other plants together with Thruway emissions are causing the problems.

But that didn’t wash.

Ryan is convinced the heaviest and dirtiest emissions occur after dark to hide what the plant is doing.

“Some nights it gets so bad,” he said.

hemist Joseph Gardella Jr. supports Ryan’s theory, based on analysis of data from a five- day study conducted by the EPA in April, which the agency has yet to analyze.

“The EPA sampled in the middle of the night when the Thruway traffic wasn’t an issue,” said Gardella, a University at Buffalo chemistry professor. “They’d get these spikes of huge amounts of benzene being emitted in a short time period.”

Plus, Tonawanda Coke’s owner has a track record of past violations at a coke plant in Erie, PA where that company got hit with a $6.1 million for air quality illegalities, and a lack of cooperation.

Well, the Feds finally raided Tonawanda Coke on Thursday, taking records and samples. You see, the Clean Air Coalition complained to Schumer and Gillibrand, who in turn urged Tonawanda Coke’s owner to meet with them. He refused. Gillibrand got the EPA involved.

It’s time for polluters to be held accountable for their illegalities and for poisoning the community. It’s cool to make a buck and employ people, but if you can’t be bothered to follow the law then the law needs to get involved. I have no doubt that Tonawanda Coke has the capability to take measured to come into compliance with air quality requirements. But it probably costs a few bucks to do that, and they’ve evidently weighed the choices and determined that any consequence from poisoning the surrounding neighborhoods is just a cost of doing business.

The day is coming soon when the exact environmental and genetic triggers of cancer can be pinpointed in each individual case. When that day comes, companies like Tonawanda Coke are going to be in big trouble indeed.