Will Tonawanda Coke Be Shut Down?

Hearing to be held Friday

Tom Puckett
September 11, 2018 - 4:00 am

Tonawanda Coke. August 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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Tonawanda, NY (WBEN) Judge Willam Skretny ruled a hearing on whether Tonawanda Coke violated probation will take place on Friday. Some area leaders say they're glad it's happening sooner rather than later.

State Senator Chris Jacobs says Skretny will likely determine whether Tonawanda Coke violated its probation, and in his mind, it has. "Will it be putting them on probation with more severe consequences or will it be shutting it down? Most would say Tonawanda Coke has been a producer that has only reported things when it got caught," says Jacobs. Jacobs hopes Skretny will rule a shutdown for Tonawanda Coke but won't know for sure until Friday's hearing.

Erie County Legislator Peter Savage says he's glad the interests of the community are coming first with a quick hearing. "If the findings of capacity and emission levels are in excess of the standards governed under the Clean Air Act, this would be a violation, and part of what would be determined on Friday," says Savage.

Savage believes Tonawanda Coke can't deny violations, and the question is what is the proper remedy. "This is unprecedented. If you look at, in terms of a company being held criminally responsible in the first place, it's a concern many residents have," adds Savage. 

As far as closure, it's not as easy as turning out the lights. "They need to put on the table and they can't do so, the government needs to provide a shutdown that protects the health of the community."

Tonawanda City Mayor Rick Davis says Tonawanda Coke has been doing this for decades. "I don't think we've asked them to do more than be a responsible neighbor, and they've had multiple chances to do the right thing," says Davis. He says Tonawanda Coke has put profits over safety.

Davis is hoping on Friday Skretny orders a closedown, and Tonawanda Coke to pay for remediation of the property and retraining of the current work force.

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