Community invited to meeting updating residents on Tonawanda Coke fine, appeal process and potential soil and health studies
Congressman Brian Higgins presented Tonawanda resident and community activist Jackie James-Creedon with an Environmental Quality Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA award is presented to those who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental quality and public health.
James-Creedon was a founding member and the first executive director of the Clean Air Coalition. In 2008, she began the fight against Tonawanda Coke for clean air violations. A criminal investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation revealed company employees deliberately ignored environmental procedures, leading to the release of toxic pollution at Tonawanda Coke. In March, Tonawanda Coke was found guilty by a federal court of violating the Clean Air Act.
James-Creedon's leadership contributed to the facility reducing its benzene emissions by more than 86 percent.
"Up against a daunting opponent, Jackie believed in the fight, rallied the community and (the) government listened," Higgins said. "This EPA award for Jackie is well deserved recognition that citizen action is a powerful force for change. Today, residents in this community breathe easier thanks to Jackie's tenacity and initiative."
Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana added, "With her persistent efforts and her 'Bucket Brigade,' she was able to convince the DEC to complete air quality studies in four areas that eventually proved that benzene was present in very high quantities in the area, and had the potential to be a major contributor to the quality of life here. Since the air quality monitors discovered the seriousness of the problem, actions were taken such that there has been a nearly 90 percent decrease of this toxin in our air. Thank you, Jackie!"
James-Creedon continues to be involved through a grassroots organization called Citizen Science Community Resources, which is dedicated to science-based activism for environmental health and justice. The organization is hosting a community meeting to provide an update on the Tonawanda Coke fine and subsequent soil and community health studies.
Residents are invited to attend a community update meeting Tuesday at the Sheridan-Parkside Community Center, 169 Sheridan-Parkside Drive. Citizen Science Community Resources will be joined by representatives from the U.S. Attorney's office, the University at Buffalo and the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo. The doors open at 6 p.m., with the program at 6:30 p.m.
Brian Higgins is pictured with Tonawanda resident and community activist Jackie