NYDOL Aiding Workers After Tonawanda Coke Shuts Down

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is overseeing the safe shutdown of operations at the facility. The coke battery consists of 60 ovens, of which 30 remained in operation at the time of shutdown; on Oct. 15 the last of the remaining 30 ovens were fully emptied, marking the end of coke production at the facility.

A New York Department of Labor Rapid Response team was sent to Tonawanda, N.Y., this week to help workers from the Tonawanda Coke Corp. plant find new jobs, following the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on Oct. 12.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is overseeing the safe shutdown of operations at the facility. The coke battery consists of 60 ovens, of which 30 remained in operation at the time of shutdown; on Oct. 15 the last of the remaining 30 ovens were fully emptied, marking the end of coke production at the facility, DEC announced Oct. 16. "With the shutdown of the last 30 coke ovens at Tonawanda Coke, we are moving this community one step closer to being free of this facility's billowing smokestacks," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "DEC will continue to oversee operations until the job is complete, monitoring every step of the shutdown of Tonawanda Coke and advancing the cleanup of any contamination this facility leaves behind."

DEC's announcement said the facility's next steps include the continued purging of the extensive system of gas lines throughout the site, as well as cooling of the battery ovens. Shutdown operations will continue throughout this week, and DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be on site to assess environmental conditions and address both the short- and long-term investigation and cleanup of contamination at the site.

"We'll be here for as long as we’re needed to help these men and women access the benefits they need and most importantly, find them new jobs," said Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. NYDOL plans to offer targeted career fairs for TCC employees.

Tonawanda Coke's bankruptcy filing cited more than $2 million in debts, WIVB's Daniel Telvock reported. He reported that the company "has a long history of environmental and worker safety violations, along with run-ins with state and federal regulators," including having been ordered by a judge in 2014 to pay $25 million in fines and community service payments after being found guilty of violating environmental laws.

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