There are 53 industrial facilities in Tonawanda, the highest concentration of air regulated facilities in the state. Two major interstate highways intersect in the community and one holds a tollbooth where traffic congestion is a problem.

Tonawanda Coke

Clean Air’s first campaign was to lead a resident driven campaign against Tonawanda Coke, a coke manufacturing company that was identified as a bad actor through sound data.  Clean Air members led a direct-action campaign to hold Tonawanda Coke responsible. Coalition members wrote to, met with and received the support of many elected officials, held a protest at the gates of the company and flooded the phone lines of a government agencies that provided public subsidies to Tonawanda Coke.

The media coverage and public pressure generated by Coalition members has resulted in real change. In December of 2009, the US Department of Justice, the US EPA, NYS DEC and US Coast Guard raided Tonawanda Coke with a federal search warrant.

Less than a week later Mark Kamholz, Tonawanda Coke’s Environmental Control Manager was arrested.

Clean Air’s campaign resulted in an EPA enforcement action and criminal trial. Tonawanda Coke was found guilty in March 2013 of breaking 14 federal laws under the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Mark Kamholz was found guilty on the same counts and an additional count of obstruction of justice.

Since the EPA’s enforcement action, there was a reported 92% reduction in benzene from the continuous air monitor at Grand Island Blvd. and a 68% reduction at the air monitor on Brookside Terrace (see more at DEC Tonawanda Air Study) The company was fined $12.5 million in fines, 5 years of probation, and to pay nearly 12 million for future health and environmental studies. Mark Kamholz was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day in prison for plus a $20,000 fine and a supervised release after serving the term.

Just Transition – NRG Huntley

After the release of the recent report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) regarding the dim future of the Huntley Coal Plant in the Town of Tonawanda, Clean Air held a series of community assemblies in the city and town of Tonawanda, Grand Island, and Riverside to vision a “just” transition in case of the plant’s closure.

We must make sure that as the plant retires, that workers at the plant and residents who live near the plant are protected. We must make sure that new revenue is secured for our schools and local governments, and for a clean up of the waterfront property

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Tonawanda pollution photo 4.11 2