Tonawanda News — “Now we are asking for those who have paid the price in terms of health and hardship to come forward again and be heard as the legal system weighs penalties associated with the crime against this community.”
Where the benefits of those penalties go and what they’re used for may be determined through feedback sent to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, due for submittal by June 14 and involving restitution claims for residents who suffered through economic loss.
Another deadline for impact statements from community members who may have been harmed would be used by Skretny during sentencing and could influence the amount and designation of the fines, according to officials. The deadline for those submissions is July 1.
“While the media has reported on the air quality studies, the trial and the community concerns, the stories of individuals and their families have for the most part remained in the background,” said Assemblyman Robin Schimminger. “Now is the time for these silent witnesses to share their experiences with the judge, who will determine the price Tonawanda Coke must pay for its criminal actions.”
Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana said the community’s reputation has been damaged by the discovery of widespread pollution, though efforts are being made to fix the problems of not only the plant, but the surrounding industrial area as well as the heavily trafficked highways that continue to exist along the Niagara River.
“Many people think that Tonawanda Coke is synonymous with the Town of Tonawanda,” he said. “We have already lost potential new businesses and new residents because of this association.”
For specific information on how to submit an impact statement or restitution claim go to justice.gov/usau/nyw or write Sharon Knope at U.S. Attorney’s Office, 138 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY, 14202.
The Tonawanda Community Fund, started by James-Creedon, can also assist with the process by calling 873-6197 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.