Resident Hoping for Change in Tonawanda

March 15, 2013 Updated Mar 15, 2013 at 7:17 AM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

March 15, 2013 Updated Mar 15, 2013 at 7:17 AM EDT

Tonawanda, N.Y. (WKBW) - The head of the State's Department of Environmental Conservation, Joseph Martens, is expected to tour the Town of Tonawanda. That area is said to be plagued with high cancer rates, premature births and other health problems.

This comes from a health department report, which showed a high number of problems in the industrial corridor, which is in the Sheridan Park area. The study also shows a high number of respiratory problems.

These reported health problems are not a surprise to many resident who believe that chemicals in the air are causing these illnesses. Although the report does not point fingers, some resident blame the Tonawanda Coke Plant. That business has been punished in the past for polluting the air. Experts said there are other factors.

"Tonawanda has one of the highest concentrations of air polluters in NYS. We have a coal plant, a coke plant, several petroleum distribution terminals, many chemicals," Erin Healey with the Clean Air Coalition said.

Many residents said they have never seen an area with sicker people than Tonawanda. Those residents are demanding that the Federal Government do something about it. Now, the DEC will visit and conduct its own investigation.