Tonawanda Coke offers explosion explanation

Tonawanda Coke has released an official explanation over a small explosion that rocked their facility nearly a week ago.

Last Friday, businesses and homes near the plant on River Road felt and heard an explosion. Officials at Tonawanda Coke said the incident was minor and that a safety valve had acted properly after a build up of coke oven gas occurred. However, the State DEC called the incident “significant” and lawmakers and local leaders called for an immediate investigation.

Now Tonawanda Coke officials are speaking out about what happened. Officials say their investigation has determined that “extremely cold temperatures caused an air-line to freeze, and a blockage to form in a gas line.” The blockages caused a buildup of pressure of coke oven gas, and eventually lead to the explosion. A small fire burned for around 12 minutes before being extinguished by on-site operators.

Tonawanda Coke says they are already implementing strategies to prevent this from happening again. And officials say the coke oven gas is mostly comprised of hydrogen, with benzene and other constituents equating to less than a half of a percent.

The plant submitted a detailed explanation of the incident to the State DEC, EPA and OSHA.

No one was injured. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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