Revelation of injuries in Tonawanda Coke blast stirring anger

Feb 13, 2014

Rep. Brian Higgins says he is outraged after learning that three workers at Tonawanda Coke were injured in a January 31 explosion, contrary to what the company initially reported.

Tonawanda Coke, River Road, Tonawanda, NY.
Credit WBFO News file photo

The company on River Road originally stated that the explosion was minor and there were no injuries. But earlier this week, Tonwanda Coke confirmed that three employees suffered minor injuries in the blast.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation called the blast "significant." Tonawanda Coke refused to allow first responders inside the facility following the blast. OSHA is reviewing the incident.

Higgins says the company is continuing a pattern of deceiving the public.

"There is a consistent pattern here of this company seemingly deliberately misleading the public, including and especially those people that live in that neighborhood," Higgins said Wednesday.

The company was found guilty last year of violating the Clean Air Act and faces fines of up to $200 million for to its benzene emissions. The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York is calling for a federal investigation into the explosion.