TONAWANDA, N.Y.-- Residents in Tonawanda have reached an important breakthrough Friday with the Tonawanda Coke Plant.

In 2013, the plant was found guilty of violating environmental laws. As a result of the ruling, a judge ordered the company to fund research to determine the impact of the pollution.

Friday, an investigation into how emissions from the plant may have affected nearby soil began. Local scientists took the first of nearly 300 soil samples.

Jackie James-Creedon, a Tonawanda community advocate said, "We begin to investigate the potential links between industrial sources such as pollution coming from this company you see behind me, and how that potentially has impacted our environment and our residents' health."

Soil samples will be collected from areas in the town and city of Tonawanda, Kenmore, Grand Island and the city of Buffalo.