GRAND ISLAND, NY- "From the first day we moved into our home here we had the view of those smoking belching smoke stacks, the large plums of black smoke, white smoke, and so on," said Grand Island resident Paul Lauchner.
Paul Lauchner lives on East River Road on Grand Island just across the Niagara River from Tonawanda Coke and for 34 years he's been worried about the air quality.
"Most of the time the wind would blow it away from us but there were occasions where it would come right back on us. Where we would have to get up in the middle of the night, close the windows because we were coughing from the fumes and the soot and the fallout that was coming from this plant," said Lauchner.
Saturday Lauchner joined Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray and the group Citizen Science Community Resources in support of the DEC ordering the plant to shut down after an inspection of the plant Thursday found "persistent and ongoing" violations of the plants DEC license.
"We've ben pestering them and a lot of citizens have been pestering them saying 'look we need to look at this'. And they found they're still in violation of the law. That the thing is still being maintained in a way that's poisoning the community," said McMurray.
The DEC's inspections followed recent complaints about the black smoke coming from the facility and reports of the collapse of a waste heat tunnel inside the plant.
"It's literally collapsing inside, things are falling apart, it's smoking all night long, people are scared and they should be scared. We shouldn't trust this company. It's been too long they've been able to do whatever they want over here."
Officials with Tonawanda Coke released a statement in response to the DEC's cease and desist order that reads:
"Tonawanda Coke shares the same goal as the DEC. and strives to provide a safe environment for its employees and the surrounding communities. We look forward to working with the DEC to resolve these issues, and continuing our operations, which contribute to the vibrant Buffalo-area community and workforce."
But not everyone is convinced Tonawanda Coke will do the right thing.
"Can we be reassured that we're going to be able to breathe clean air and be safe and healthy?" said James-Creedon. Citizen Science Community Resources
Tonawanda Coke has 15 days to appeal the DEC's order or it's DEC permit could be revoked on August 4th.