Nearly 260 people from the Tonawanda
area of New York have banded together to sue the owners of Tonawanda Coke for
environmental, health and economic damages caused by this manufacturer of
foundry coke, which is produced from coal.
In 2003, GCM first trained community
members to initiate their own Bucket Brigades, which uncovered benzene releases
at as much as 75 times higher than accepted health standards.
NEW YORK: Over 200 people suing Tonawanda Coke
TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - More legal
troubles are stirring up at a plant cited for polluting in the town of
More than 200 people have come
together to sue Tonawanda Coke Corporation, in State Supreme Court, and are
pulling out all the stops. They have called on one of the world's best known
champions of environmental causes and one of the attorneys that helped make her
As local residents gathered at a
neighborhood playground to talk about their fight with Tonawanda Coke, the
plant belched a plume of black smoke from the building, not a smoke stack.
Jackie James Creedon of Citizens
United for Justice said, "It is literally making these people and these
children very, very sick."
And that is what their lawsuit is
all about. Close to 260 plaintiffs from the Tonawandas, Grand Island, and
Buffalo hired a team of lawyers to sue the operators of Tonawanda Coke for
damages inflicted on their health, their property, and their lives. They have
formed a group, Citizens United for Justice.
Creedon said, "What's done is
done, unfortunately, but at least these people can be compensated and some of
their health bills can be paid for."
Environmental officials from the
state and federal governments have cited Tonawanda Coke and its owner on many
occasions, including criminal charges. But these folks say those actions won't
pay their medical bills.
"We are tired of being sick. We
are sick and tired of being sick. We've had enough; we want justice and we want
it now," said Joyce Hogencamp of Citizens United.
Citizens United even consulted with
environmental activist Erin Brockovich before making their move and hired one
of the attorneys that won the $300 million judgment against a West Coast
utility company that made Brockovich famous. Hogencamp said the lawsuit filed
this week in state court is also a tribute to two of their stalwarts who have
passed away much too soon.
"They really made all of us
promise, don't give up. No matter what happens to the two of us, don't you give
up. We're all in this together, we're all a community together," said
The class of victims in the lawsuit
includes residents who live around Tonawanda Coke, those who work in that area,
and anyone who has spent enough time there to be sickened just breathing the