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Erie County Legislature passes Tonawanda Coke resolution

Sat, Sep 8th 2018 07:00 am
Less than five hours after this photo of Tonawanda Coke was taken from Ferry Village, the company dealt with a fire at its River Road facility. (Photo by Larry Austin)
Less than five hours after this photo of Tonawanda Coke was taken from Ferry Village, the company dealt with a fire at its River Road facility. (Photo by Larry Austin)
Resolution urging state, federal agencies to require Tonawanda Coke to submit emergency shutdown plan passes legislature
During Thursday's session, the Erie County Legislature passed a resolution calling on the U.S. District Court, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to require Tonawanda Coke to submit an emergency shutdown plan.
The resolution was introduced by legislators Kevin Hardwick and Peter Savage, who both represent communities affected by Tonawanda Coke's River Road Plant in the Town of Tonawanda, across from Grand Island.
Tonawanda Coke has previously been found guilty in Federal Court of criminal violations of the Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The DEC also issued a cease and desist order to the facility, stemming from 176 recent alleged violations.
"Tonawanda Coke has had numerous chances to clean up their act and they have failed to do so," said Hardwick. "The facility poses threats to human health and the environment and it's time to take action for the safety of our community."
"I submitted this resolution in conjunction with Legislator Hardwick because I believe that that is essential for state and federal authorities to act now, in order to protect the health and welfare of the residents of Tonawanda," said Savage, chair of the Erie County Legislature.
The resolution also supports the following:
•Designating a portion of any future fines against the facility for health monitoring of individuals including former, current and temporary employees exposed to pollution.
•Requiring Tonawanda Coke to fund site cleanup and remediation in the event of a shutdown.
•Requiring Tonawanda Coke to fund the retraining of employees.
Tonawanda Coke appeared in U.S. District Court Sept. 4 in front of the Judge William Skretny regarding potential violations of the company's probation from their 2013 court case and 2014 criminal sentence. Just hours before, at about 9 p.m. Sept. 3, Tonawanda Coke put out a fire that had drawn fire units, including those from the Grand Island Fire Co.

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