Residents Hold Tonawanda Coke Accountable for their Environmental Crimes
Wednesday, October 12, 2022 at 7:00 PM
Tonawanda City Hall Community Room
200 Niagara Street, Tonawanda, New York
On March 28th, 2013 after a month long trial in U.S. District Court, twelve jurors found Tonawanda Coke and its environmental control manager guilty of 14 criminal charges. This verdict is only the second time in history that a company has been indicted and convicted under the Clean Air Act. Additionally, the sentence included one of the largest fines ever levied in a federally prosecuted case. For the next five years after this landmark case, Tonawanda Coke continued to operate putting the surrounding community in harm’s way. Finally, in October 2018, when Tonawanda Coke was tired of fighting the government, elected officials, and the community, they closed their doors once and for all. Today, the tides are turning in Tonawanda with a major clean up at the former site and the rebuilding of a community with a cleaner and greener environment. Additionally, since the closing of the plant, WNY residents are breathing cleaner air with over a 95% reduction in the deadly chemical benzene.
The fight all started with just a few citizens sitting around a table discussing their individual health struggles and their collective right to a cleaner environment. Jackie James, Founder of the Clean Air Coalition of WNY and Citizen Science Community Resources (CSCR) told the story of how the residents organized and used citizen science as a tool to hold Tonawanda Coke accountable for their environmental crimes. She also had a few citizen science tools on hand for demonstration.
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