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April 18, 2014

Activist wins EPA award

Tonawanda News — Jackie James-Creedon, a Kenmore resident who founded the Clean Air Coalition, has been selected as the recipient of a a 2014 U.S. EPA Environmental Quality Award. 

“The Environmental Quality Award is the highest recognition presented to a member of the public by the United States Environmental Protection Agency recognizing those who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental quality and public health,” a statement from the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo reads.

James-Creedon was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2000, and began organizing with other residents to figure out why so many locals were sick. James-Creedon then founded the Clean Air Coalition and led the group from 2004 to 2009. During that time, she helped begin the fight against Tonawanda Coke, the River Road plant that has since been found guilty of violating two federal environmental laws. 

“I’m very honored to get the recognition,” she said. “I obviously did not do this (by) myself. I was only one. I led the Clean Air Coalition for a large part of it, but really, truly, it was a group effort for the community, so I’d like to recognize everybody else.” 

She is now the director of Citizen Science Community Resources, and over the past few years, has completed preliminary soil testing in the area surrounding the coal-burning plant. The tests indicated that Tonawanda residents’ backyards contained an unsafe level of contaminants, but with limited funds and a small sample size, clear conclusions couldn’t be made. 

James-Creedon pushed for a more comprehensive study, and Chief U.S. District Judge William Skretny granted that request last month when he ordered Tonawanda Coke to fund her $700,000 project as part of the plant’s sentencing requirements.

The project is in the planning stages, and James-Creedon said they are editing the proposal before officially submitting it to the probation department, which will then formally approve the study. 

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