Tonawanda residents demand new soil testing near industrial area

Jan 30, 2013

A group of residents is demanding new soil testing in a neighborhood that is surrounded by industrial sites off River Road in Tonawanda, including Tonawanda Coke.

NRG facilty on River Road, Tonawanda installed state-of-the art air controls in 2010 to cut soot
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

The group -- Tonawanda Community Fund --  revealed that it conducted its own samples finding number of dangerous toxins.  It conducted its own soil samples after a number of residents complained of soot from the nearby Tonawanda Coke.  

The community group says it discovered a number of dangerous toxins -- including Benzo[a]pyrene -- a carcinogen. 

Jackie James Creedon is with the Tonawanda Community Fund, and is the former director of the Clean Air Coaltion of WNY.   Creedon says the toxins are higher than what is acceptable by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. 

Jackie James Creedon, Tonawanda Community Fund member explains citizen soil testing
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

"I'm calling on the DEC and EPA to come in here and sample more yards.  We only sampled five or six," said Creedon.  "How far is this contamination.  Where is it?"

Citizens tested soil from a playground and five homes on Kaufman, Sawyer and James Avenues near Tonawanda Coke.  

The community group says Tonawanda Coke continues to operate without proper soot controls.

"We need those controls on there right away.  This has been going on for 30-years," said Creedon.

Creedon told reporters the state DEC is no longer responding to her, saying it can not discuss Tonawanda Coke due to an on-going lawsuit.

The citizen soil testing was conducted with the help of Charles Matteliano, a consulting engineer from TEQ Solutions and Andrew Baumgartner, a University at Buffalo student under direction of chemistry professor Dr. Joe Gardella. 

Charles Mattleiano demonstrates a device used to take soil tests
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

The group created a special piping device to collect the soil.  Matteliano demonstrated the device to the media and residents Tuesday at the River Road Fire Hall on Kaufman Avenue in Tonawanda.

A representative from State Senator Mark Grisanti's office says they will write a letter to the DEC.

The organization noted that nearby NRG, located on River Road -- "acting as a good neighbor: installed state of the art air controls in 2010, while Tonawanda Coke has not.