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EPA: Air quality near Tonawanda Coke within safe limits

Initial monitoring of the air near Tonawanda Coke shows emissions have remained within safe levels as the plant began shutting down, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

The agency said it is waiting for a lab to validate the emissions data.

It expects those results in the next several days and will share them with the public as soon as possible.

The EPA has six monitoring stations at an entrance to the River Road plant and in the surrounding neighborhood that check for sulfur dioxide, fine particles and volatile organic compounds such as benzene, in case of a problem at the plant during the shutdown.

Real-time testing of air samples Monday and Tuesday showed emissions have stayed below levels that could harm the public, according to the EPA.

The EPA said it will continue monitoring the air around the plant, which is a Superfund site, until all flammable gases at the site have been purged.

Could toxic trouble at Tonawanda Coke get worse after it closes?

The agency said in a statement it is working closely with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to keep an eye on conditions at Tonawanda Coke following the decision late last week to shutter the 101-year-old plant.

The EPA said it has spent years collaborating with state officials and community members to press Tonawanda Coke to fix violations of environmental rules, including winning a federal judicial consent decree in 2015.

A federal grand jury in 2010 also indicted Tonawanda Coke and one of its executives for violating the federal Clean Air Act, among other charges.

Amid bankruptcy, Tonawanda Coke still owes $2 million to community

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