Researchers kick off Tonawanda Coke environmental impact soil study

KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB) — Student researchers from the University at Buffalo are digging up 6-inch deep holes at more than 250 sites in Tonawanda, Kenmore, Grand Island, and parts of Buffalo close to Tonawanda Coke as part of a more than $700,000 study.

“They are testing for 130 different contaminants specifically the kind of chemicals that are coming off of Tonawanda Coke, heavy metals like lead and arsenic,” said Jackie James-Creedon, Citizen Science Community Resources Executive Director.

A few years ago Tonawanda Coke Corporation was ordered to pay millions in fines after breaking the Clean Air Act. Now the company is footing the bill to help the community study effects on the environment.

“Some of the things that are harmful can be present in the air and sometimes they can come down to the ground as particles. And what we care about is over time some of these particles can accumulate in the soil record,” said Elizabeth Lee, student researcher.

Several years ago Susan Mazur lived in Tonawanda near the plant.

“I know what I experienced when I was there and how my body started to break down after I had been heavily exposed to these insidious chemicals,” said Susan Mazur, former Tonawanda resident.

Soil samples from sites near the plant will be tested at laboratories.

Researchers hope the findings will give them a clear picture of what kind of an impact emissions from Tonawanda Coke may have had on the environment.

“I hope they’ll find the connections between the air, the soil, body samples, possibly my own,” said Mazur.

Results from the soil study will be shared with the community at some point before the end of the year. This is a 2 year study, researchers plan to go back to any sites that may have possible high contamination at some point next year.

For more information, or to get involved go to: www.csresources.org

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