Tonawanda News — City of Tonawanda officials said they have been notified residents there will be included in a health study that will examine the effects of Tonawanda Coke’s emissions.
University at Buffalo Dr. Matthew Bonner’s initial proposal, which was sent to Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny, said the study would focus only on the Town of Tonawanda and Grand Island.
“I want to clarify that the residents of the City of Tonawanda will be included,” Bonner wrote to Mayor Rick Davis and Councilwoman Jenna Koch. “Although it’s my understanding that Tonawanda Coke Corporation has filed an appeal, which I’m told will be a long process, we are in the early stages of planning the project and I assure you that the residents of the City of Tonawanda will be invited to participate.”
Davis said he was pleased that residents will be invited to take part in the study.
“It might answer some of the questions residents have about how Tonawanda Coke has impacted their lives, and it could lead to possible future studies surrounding the plant,” he said.
The River Road plant, which was found guilty of violating two federal environmental laws, was sentenced last month to pay $12.5 million in fines and fund $12.2 million in community service projects.
Those projects include Bonner’s 10-year, $11.4 million University at Buffalo epidemiological study that will allow residents and plant employees to meet with doctors and determine if Tonawanda Coke’s crimes impacted their health. The plant will pay for the project over the course of five years.
The first phase of the project will include a health survey to determine the major health concerns of the community. Biological samples, including blood, urine, saliva, and toe nail clippings, will be collected to analyze the current amount of a known carcinogen, benzene, in the environment.