TONAWANDA, N.Y. — A portion of the Tonawanda Coke property has been accepted into New York State's Brownfield Cleanup Program, the state's Department of Environmental Conservation announced Friday.
The DEC also announced a consent order with Honeywell International, holding the company accountable for clean-up efforts of some sections of the site under the state's Superfund program.
"I am proud of the lead role DEC took in permanently shuttering Tonawanda Coke to protect the environment and public health of Western New York communities," DEC commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Now, with the agreements announced today, DEC will ensure the former plant site will be responsibly and aggressively cleaned up under the State's strict standards so that it can be redeveloped and help contribute to the region's economy."
During a January meeting, the Clean Air Coalition held a meeting where it called on Honeywell, the former Tonawanda Coke owner, to pay for cleanup under the federal Superfund program. The site is now owned by Riverview Innovation & Technology Campus Inc.
Through the DEC, Town of Tonawanda supervisor Joe Emminger issued a statement on Friday.
"The former Tonawanda Coke site has been a huge environmental concern and hazard in our community for decades. Our goal, from the very beginning was to ensure the site is remediated in a way that best suits our desire to protect the public from any future environmental issues," he said.
"We believe that the decision today by the NYSDEC by placing the site in the Brownfield Cleanup Program, will be doing just that. The Brownfield Cleanup Program has a proven track record of remediating environmentally contaminated properties in our state in a cost-effective, and more importantly, environmentally safe manner. With this determination today, the new owner can now move forward with the cleanup and we are one day closer to completing that task."
The Clean Air Coalition was not pleased with the decision, and released this statement:
"Governor Andrew Cuomo is warping the purpose of the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP). This decision sets a dangerous precedent, reducing the program to a loophole for legally recognized polluters to avoid their financial and environmental responsibility. Clean Air members, and the residents of Western New York deserve better than the Governor's greenwashing." said Rebecca Newberry, Executive Director.
"New York State can not afford this corporate welfare due to the fact that there is a projected 5 to 6 Billion Dollar Budget deficit. Governor Cuomo is passing the buck for remediation to the taxpayer," said Gary Schulenberg, Clean Air member.