Mon April 4, 2011
Clean Air Coalition moves to become proactive
By Joyce Kryszak
Tonawanda, NY – The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York is bringing in re-reinforcements in its effort to combat toxic emissions coming from industrial plants in Tonawanda.
A Louisiana activist and one of the nation's leading environmental scientists will speak Monday night in Tonawanda at an event hosted by the Coalition. Activist Eboni Cochrane launched an air monitoring program in Louisville with the expert help of Wilma Subra, a nationally recognized environmental chemist and biologist.
Erin Heaney is executive director for the Coalition. She said they are working with the two women to bolster monitoring efforts here.
"We don't want to just be reacting. We don't just want to be the watchdog that slapping people on the hand," said Heaney. "But we really want to be propositional and be out there proposing solutions."
The grassroots organization began a citizen-led monitoring program and eventually the support from the EPA and the DEC and more advanced testing. The two years worth of data showed dangerous levels of toxic emissions linked to the Tonawanda Coke plant.
Remediation was ordered. And a company manager faces 20 criminal charges for environmental violations and obstruction of justice. But Heaney said they are not the only offender.
"Kind of what got lost in that story is that there are a number of other air pollution challenges beyond Tonawanda Coke," said Heaney. "Tonawanda has the highest concentration of air-permitted facilities in New York state. So, there's still a lot of work to be done."
The Coalition is hosting Eboni Cochrane and Wilma Subra at an event Monday night in Tonawanda. They will talk about how the successful program in the Rubbertown area on Louisville could be applied to efforts in Tonawanda.
The public is invited to attend the free event Monday at 7:00PM at the Sheridan Parkside Community Center, 169 Sheridan Parkside Drive in Tonwanda.