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DEC: Shutdown operations at Tonawanda Coke facility complete

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Tue, Oct 23rd 2018 10:25 am
(File photo)
(File photo)
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on Tuesday announced the safe completion of shutdown operations at the Tonawanda Coke facility. The facility's extensive system of gas lines has been completely purged and all coke ovens are empty‎. 
DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are on-site to assess environmental conditions and investigate contamination at the site. DEC will continue to provide information and regular updates to the public on the progress of the cleanup of the site.
Also, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it is continuing to secure the Tonawanda Coke Corporation facility in Tonawanda, and has launched a comprehensive assessment of environmental conditions at the facility in a continuing effort to protect the surrounding community.
On Oct. 14, TCC suspended operations and initiated process shutdown to permanently close its facility, a process that was overseen by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). EPA has worked closely with the NYSDEC throughout the facility shutdown process, which included shutting down coke ovens and purging them of gases. NYSDEC has asked EPA to take the lead on conducting an assessment of the facility.
"At the request of our state partner, the NYSDEC, EPA is leading a comprehensive assessment of environmental conditions at this notoriously unsafe and polluted facility," EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez said. "Despite efforts by New York state and EPA, Tonawanda Coke Corporation would not run its facility in compliance with state and federal environmental law. EPA is taking all necessary steps to safeguard the community and secure the facility, while looking towards future cleanup needs."
As the lead agency for the assessment and post-shutdown operations, EPA will:
  • More permanently secure the site;
  • Maintain utilities to the facility;
  • Maintain process water and stormwater treatment systems;
  • Assess and address any immediate risks posed by the facility; and
  • Evaluate additional cleanup needs and take further actions as appropriate.
On Oct. 15, EPA began conducting real-time air monitoring in and around the facility for sulfur dioxide, fine particles, and volatile organic compounds, including benzene, in the event of an incident at the facility during shutdown operations. Air sampling was also conducted at each of the stations for benzene. Air surveillance stations are located at the gate house of the facility and in five locations in the nearby community, including an elementary school. Air monitoring and sampling continued until after shutdown was complete and all flammable gases were purged from the system. 
Laboratory analyses are being performed on these samples. EPA's validated data, preliminary data, and real-time monitoring of air all indicate there have been no exceedances of levels established to protect the public. Community updates will be posted at EPA's website at https://www.epa.gov/ny/tonawanda-coke-corporation-tcc-site.

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