Mon January 30, 2012
A citizen starts a fund to protect residents from Tonawanda Coke
Tonawanda Coke on River Road continues to face several lawsuits for polluting the air.
A community activist continues to speak out against benzene and other toxic material that spews from the facility.
"Tonawanda Coke is still polluting," said Jackie James-Creedon, Kenmore resident and community activist in Kenmore-Tonawanda. She said high benzene levels have been reduced, but she wants them reduced even more.
"Benzene levels have been reduced. It's better, but as far as what I'm interested in, I'm interested in reducing levels even further," said James-Creedon.
This story reached a national audience this past Fall when NPR featured Tonawanda Coke as part of its Poisoned Places in America Series.
"I've heard from other community activists across the country and they've come to me for advice and it is just wonderful, wonderful to connect with other people going through the same thing nationally," said James-Creedon.
There are personal lawsuits as well as as state and federal lawsuits. Some citizens believe materials have caused cancer in their area. James-Creedon has started a Tonawanda Community fund to raise money to pay for some air testing and assist any citizens who were not covered by the lawsuits.
"Depending on how many funds we do collect, it will be to compensate the other people who are not covered by the lawsuits. Reality is these lawsuits will cover hundreds of people and reality is there are thousands of people that have been effected," said James-Creedon. "So I want to make sure that everyone has the right to be compensated."
James-Creedon said citizens will continue to fight to stop the pollution and protect the health of the nearby community.
State and federal regulators have been keeping a close watch on the facility and the materials it emits. At one point, the benzene emissions were 30-times what was being reported by Tonawanda Coke.
A year ago the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered the facility to clean up the pollution.
"We grew up with this smell our whole lives, and we don't know what clean air smells like...it's not healthy for us, and it's got to be stopped," said James-Creedon.