New York Senator Charles E. Schumer has written a letter to the owner of the Tonawana Coke Corperation strongly urging the company to take swift action to reduce harmful benzene emissions.
Schumer noted that the plant had reduced emissions of certain toxins, but said that "much more needs to be done to reduce the amount of benzene released into the air."
An EPA and DEC funded study found last year that airborne benzene levels in and around the town of Tonawanda are up to 75 times higher than New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recommended guidelines.
“Studies have proven that exposure to these sky-high benzene levels are harmful and that the emissions from this plant are simply too high. A more concerted effort must be made to prevent these toxic chemicals from making their way into our air. I urge the Tonawanda Coke Corporation to map out a plan to reduce these harmful emmissions and present it to the public — to ensure the health and safety of residents and workers.”
Schumer went on to underline the urgency of the threat that benzene emissions pose to the health of the people of Tonawanda…
"Due to the fact that benzene is a known carcinogen, every effort must be made to greatly reduce the amount that is being released by Tonawanda Coke. Residents of the Town of Tonawanda and the surrounding area are experiencing numerous health problems resulting from these toxic emissions. Serious diseases such as fibromyalgia and many types of cancer are occurring at irregularly high rates among Tonawanda residents. This in addition to less serious ailments such as constant headaches, and increased asthma and allergy rates, are proof enough that something is happening to the town’s residents. It is no coincidence that those suffering from serious health problems live in close proximity to the Tonawanda Coke plant.
Indeed exposure to benzene causes cancer and bone marrow failure (BMF) diseases like aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia and others.
The Tone of Schumer’s letter was grave but respectful of Tonawanda Coke’s contributions the economy of Tonawanda and New York State. Tonawanda Coke Corporation, great company if you can see past them breaking environmental laws and poisoning innocent people with massive amounts of airborne benzene.