Don't let anyone ever tell you that the government can't get results and does not respond to public complaints when it comes to environmental protection. And never forget about that not-so-small thing, the power of an individual.
A couple of years ago Jackie James-Creedon of Buffalo area became concerned about western New York industrial sources of air pollution. She and her neighbors founded a group called the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York. Erin Heaney later entered as the Executive Director of the group.
Ms. James-Creedon, Ms. Heaney and their group gathered emissions data for the area sources of common air pollutants and hazardous air pollutants. This citizen air quality planning and emissions assessment led to the group focusing on a very significant local source, Tonawanda Coke.
At this point, I have to digress to explain and disclose that CACWNY hired me to review the Clean Air Act Title V permit application for Tonawanda Coke and to draft independent review comments for filing whenever NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation issued a draft Title V permit for Tonawanda Coke.
However, I have not been able to complete my client project because Tonawanda Coke went and got itself busted in the middle of federal and state environmental criminal and civil enforcement action by U.S. DOJ, U.S. EPA and NYDEC. The reason that this criminal and civil enforcement occurred was a overwhelming and proximate direct cause of Ms. James-Creedon's and Ms. Heaney's work at persuasion with both U.S. EPA regional and NYDEC staff over the coke oven facility. That persuasion led to escalated air enforcement inspections and enforcement activities.
One issue that was apparent in the only work I've done so far was that Tonawanda Coke was almost certainly misrepresenting its stationary source status for hazardous air pollutant emissions..... it should have been a major source for HAPs and it claimed it was not.
The criminal enforcement of the Clean Air Act by U.S. EPA is a relatively rare thing.
Here are two excellent Buffalo News articles to help fill you in on this case.
This is a major and nationally significant EPA Clean Air Act enforcement action. The EPA National Enforcement Investigations Center,
....was involved in this case with the criminal investigation.
Tonawanda Coke is owned by J.D. Crane, who also owned Detroit Coke when that facility operated in SW Detroit/Delray section near Zug Island. I helped shut down Detroit Coke in the early 1990's when I was with the American Lung Association.
Unlike coal-fired power plants which will not typically result in large predicted cancer incidence risks in exposed populations (i.e. predicted risks less than 1 in 1,000,000 to 1 in 100,000), coke ovens can release emissions that will cause much higher predicted environmental carcinogenic risk than for coal power plants outside of facility fence lines.