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Statement By Congressman Brian Higgins on the Expected Shutdown of Tonawanda Coke

Oct 12, 2018
Press Release

“After years of bad actions by Tonawanda Coke, the community can finally breathe easier. 

“Again and again Tonawanda Coke proved themselves to be a bad corporate citizen, endangering the lives and health of its employees and neighbors.  Still again and again residents stood up and fought back, demanding better for our community.  Tonawanda Coke thought residents would tire or go away but instead their voices got louder and their argument got stronger. 

“Tonawanda Coke had no respect for the law or the community, and without any demonstration of rectification, their shutdown was inevitable.” 

 

Background:

In March of 2013, Tonawanda Coke was found guilty of 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act and 3 counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  Tonawanda Coke’s violations are linked to the release of benzene, which is a known carcinogen.  Higgins called for the fines to stay in Western New York.   

On July 20, 2018 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a “Cease and Desist, Notice of Violation, Notice of Intent to Revoke” to Tonawanda Coke.  In the DEC letter they cite the “company’s seeming disregard for environmental laws, rules and regulations” and go on to say that Tonawanda Coke “operations show a blatant disregard for the environment and the health and welfare of the surrounding community.”  The DEC filed additional notices of violation on August 24, 2018. Tonawanda Coke will answer these charges at a hearing before the DEC on October 10, 2018.

On July 23, 2018 the U.S. Department of Justice issued a letter citing violations of the consent decree agreed to in the previous DOJ case against Tonawanda Coke requiring the company to comply with national emission standards.  Tonawanda Coke appeared in Buffalo federal court on September 4, 2018 related to these alleged violations.

In response to the most recent violations, Higgins sent a letter to the United Stated Environmental Protection Agency and the NYSDEC on July 31, 2018 calling for no leniency.