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Erie County Legislature: EPA asked to designate Tonawanda Coke a federal Superfund site

Sat, Jan 19th 2019 07:00 am

A resolution introduced by Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick urges the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to request federal funds for Tonawanda Coke clean-up.

Concerned by the negative legacy and known and potential contaminants on the Tonawanda Coke property in the Town of Tonawanda, the Erie County Legislature Thursday approved a resolution requesting that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency add the property to the federal Superfund list.

If supported by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, a federal Superfund designation would place the Tonawanda Coke site on the National Priorities List and recognize it as being contaminated by hazardous material(s) that pose a known risk to human health. The State of New York has already designated Tonawanda Coke as a state Superfund site. The federal Superfund status would provide financial and other federal resources for clean-up efforts.

The resolution’s prime sponsor is Hardwick, who represents Grand Island the 4th Legislative District, which includes the Tonawanda Coke site. Hardwick said: “Given the past and current monitoring and clean-up work being undertaken by the DEC and EPA at the property, it makes sense that the EPA take the lead through the federal Superfund program to provide resources and financial assistance to remediate the known and likely unknown hazards at Tonawanda Coke.”

Hardwick added: “I am pleased that my legislature colleagues understood the urgency of asking for the federal designation and I hope that the DEC will expeditiously act to support such a federal status at Tonawanda Coke.”

According to Hardwick’s office, airborne contaminants, such as benzene and methane, have decreased considerably since the plant ceased operations in October 2018. However, soil studies completed in part by the University at Buffalo have indicated that other dangerous chemicals such as arsenic and cyanide exist underground and there are concerns about other hazards on-site in standing water and pools.

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