Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Environmental activist Jackie James-Creedon has been concerned about pollution from the Tonawanda Coke plant in the town for years.
And although she says the factory’s new emissions controls have been improving resident’s health and quality of life in the past few months, her mission has recently gained some extra gusto, and, unfortunately, validation.
Creedon, who founded the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, was recently contacted by a reporter, who’s Alabama TV station had funded soil testing around the two Birmingham Coke plants in the city.
“They found extreme levels of these dangerous chemicals in the soil, directly related to the coke plants,” Creedon said. “The EPA has come in and is remediating it. They are actually taking the soil out of peoples’ backyards.”
Creedon said Birmingham residents are extremely sick as a result.
“It’s the same kind of sickness you see in Tonawanda,” she said. “They possibly have more of a longer term effect, it’s in people’s gardens, the park.”
So despite the factory’s recent environmental advancements, Creedon is worried the chemicals found in Birmingham could be present in Tonawanda’s soil, too.
Nothing has been proven or linked directly to Tonawanda Coke, though given the area’s environmental history, she said testing should help answer that question and others.
“I believe there are other types of pollutants that are still posing a health risk for our community and that’s the reason why I’m doing the testing.”
Creedon hopes to begin the testing in November, but is still in the fundraising phase of the project and is hoping community members will donate money to fund the tests.
“$25, $10 — it will all help,” she said.
Each sample will cost $205 and will test for 16 poly-aromatic hydrocarbons and 8 heavy metals. The test materials will be sent to Test America located in Amherst.