After the state DEC announced they would assist in shutting down Tonawanda Coke, the company is speaking out for the first time.
Tonawanda Coke says the news of the shutdown should have been kept confidential, but instead employees learned of the closing through local news outlets.
The company released the following statement:
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.
The Company began considering this decision last week and immediately started to plan an orderly and safe shutdown process in direct consultation with DEC and EPA.
Despite our understanding that this information would be kept confidential, it was not, causing our workers to learn about the shutdown through the media.
This outcome is truly unfortunate. Confidentiality was necessary to ensure the safety of Tonawanda Coke’s workers and the community, as shutting down a coke battery can be a complex and dangerous activity which can only be safely accomplished through careful, detailed planning, and utilization of experienced personnel. It was essential that we communicate with our workers to ensure they understood the situation and would continue to operate the battery safely.
Despite the disappointing change in circumstance, we are doing our best to ensure a safe and orderly shutdown.
We extend a debt of gratitude to all our workers, and sincerely apologize that circumstances beyond our control brought about this untimely end to the Company’s existence.
The DEC announced on Sunday afternoon the shutdown process has begun. The Department of Environmental Conservation will be on-site during closing procedures. The New York State Department of Labor has deployed a rapid response eam to help employees of Tonawanda Coke apply for unemployment and find job replacements and medical benefits.
Aside from having staff on site at the TCC facility, DOL will also be opening their local career centers early tomorrow (7:30 a.m.) to continue providing services. Career counselors and unemployment insurance specialists will be on- site to assist. Displaced workers are urged to stop into either the Buffalo Career Center (284 Main St, Buffalo, NY, 14202, 716.851.2600) or the Niagara Falls Career Center (Trott ACCESS Building, 1001 – 11th Street, Niagara Falls, 14301, 716.278.8258).
Two Rapid Response sessions are scheduled for impacted workers on Thursday, October 18, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the United Steel Workers Union Hall, 810 Sheridan Drive, Tonawanda, NY 14150. Computers will be available for affected workers to apply online for unemployment insurance and search for jobs. All workers are welcome at these sessions, whether they are represented by the union or not.