The public is invited to attend a meeting regarding issues surrounding Tonawanda Coke Monday night. The event will take place at the Sheridan Parkside Community Center located at 169 Sheridan Parkside Drive in Tonawanda at 6:30 p.m.
During the event Assistant U.S. Attorney’s from the U.S. Department of Justice will provide an update on sentencing for the company that was found guilty of violating the Clean Air Act for releasing the cancer causing agent benzene in the air. Community Activists and Researchers from the University at Buffalo and SUNY Fredonia will also reveal results of soil tests done in the neighborhoods impacted by pollution from Tonawanda Coke.
Founder of Citizen Science Community Resources Jackie James Creedon is encouraging anyone who feels they've suffered harm from Tonawanda Coke to attend the meeting. She says the information would be helpful to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“They [The U.S. Department of Justice] have motioned [Chief U.S. District] Judge Skretny that they would like a sentencing hearing and they would like these potential victims to testify in front of a judge,” said Creedon.
Creedon says the neighborhoods that may have been affected by Tonawanda Coke pollution include the Town of Tonawanda, the City of Tonawanda, Grand Island, Kenmore and North Buffalo. She adds that she reached out to the company on three occasions and didn't receive a response.
Congressman Brian Higgins says he anticipates the company will face federal fines for the violation.
“We anticipate at the very least fines will be imposed on Tonawanda Coke in the tens of millions of dollars. What we are specifically asking for is that whatever amount that is that it not go to Washington, but stay here for mitigation purposes,” said Higgins.
Higgins says Tonawanda Coke continues to act “highly irresponsible.” He points to the handling of an explosion at the plant in January where the company failed to disclose important information about the incident.
Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana added that since efforts against Tonawanda Coke began benzene found in the air has been reduced by 80 percent.