Tonawanda News — "I thought to myself — hmm," Creedon, who has openly criticized Tonawanda Coke for years, said. "I wonder if we have some of those same chemicals here in Tonawanda."
Creedon was inspired and worried by the results, and decided to begin her own soil testing in the town. She, along with other fund members, Andrew Baumgartner and Charles Matteliano, took samples from a playground and five homes near the factories on River Road as part of preliminary, small study. They also completed a control test in Beaver Island State Park, a mile away from the industrial area and upwind from the plant’s emissions.
In Birmingham, the EPA is cleaning up soil that has 1.5 parts per million of benzo(a)pyrene or greater, according to Creedon. In Tonawanda, three out of the five yards that were tested met that criteria.
Then, two weeks after Creedon released the study results, the state Department of Health released their own data.
The DOH study found “statistically significant elevations” of lung cancer and bladder cancer in both males and females, esophageal cancer in males and uterine cancer in females, as well as oral-cavity/pharynx cancer in males and leukemia among women.
The DOH also found evidence of elevated preterm births and heart defects in newborns.
But the DOH study was not able to prove what caused the many illnesses, and the agency's silence on factories' culpability frustrated many locals.
But Creedon is hoping the EPA and DEC can connect the dots and lay the blame on Tonawanda Coke for polluting the air, soil and water and making residents sick.
"They are the only plant that has not installed emissions controls ... they don't have the required baffles in quench towers — so guess where the soot goes," Creedon said.
Creedon said she is writing to the EPA and DEC, asking them to complete more soil testing, make Tonawanda Coke install emissions controls and meet with Tonawanda community members by June 1.