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Tonawanda Coke's three stacks set to be demolished Saturday

Could a compromise keep Tonawanda Coke open?
Posted at 12:29 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 12:29:14-04

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Tonawanda Coke's three stacks are set to be demolished Saturday.

The demolition is set to take place at 6:00 a.m. Saturday with the rain/wind date set for Sunday at 6:00 a.m. River Road will be closed during the event to avoid distracted driving.

"A Town of Tonawanda building permit is in place and the use of explosives requires Town Board approval. Bilingual notifications will be sent to site neighbors 24 – 48 hours in advance of the demolition in accordance with the Town’s procedures. A cell phone notification also may be used for nearby registered residents. Town police and fire representatives have inspected the site and will be onsite during the demolition," a release says.

Due to the dust expected from the demolition there will be three downwind air monitoring stations and one upwind monitoring station.

Tonwanda Coke abruptly began the process to close the facility in 2018. It was convicted by a federal jury in 2013 of 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act and three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and sentenced to pay a $12.5 million penalty and $12.2 million in community service payments.

The sentence was appealed but upheld by the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2016.

In an October 2018 statement Tonawanda Coke said the closure was largely due to the financial obligations of its criminal sentence:

Sadly, largely due to the financial obligations of its criminal sentence, significant and unanticipated expenses, the loss of a funding source, and the multiple and coordinated enforcement actions brought by various government agencies, Tonawanda Coke cannot continue operations.

A cleanup of the site is being conducted under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s brownfield and superfund programs.

The demolition of the stacks is not a requirement of the brownfield cleanup but is being conducted in accordance with Town of Tonawanda regulations and New York State erosion and
sediment control and air monitoring requirements.

The property owner, Riverview Innovation and Technology Campus (RITC), is responsible for the demolition. Officials say the three stacks are being demolished because they are old and unsafe.

7 Eyewitness News will stream the demolition on Facebook and the WKBW app on Saturday morning.