James-Creedon to conduct soil sampling in town
Recently, a reporter from Birmingham, AL, who was trying to find a solution in order to help the people of Birmingham, because they too, have a Coke Plant in their area, contacted James-Creedon.
Unfortunately, Birmingham is home to two Coke Plants, of about five in the nation. Soil samples have been collected from a nearby location of the site in Birmingham, during which it was discovered, that PAH’s (Poly- Aromatic Hydrocarbons), were found in the soil.
James-Creedon elaborates on PAH’s and how these findings might effect the Ken-Ton community.
“They have done their own soil testing and found high levels of PAH’s. Certain PAH’s are carcinogenic and there are other ones that aren’t so bad,” said James-Creedon. “The ones they found were really bad. The acronym for the worst one they found is BAP, which stands for Benzo(a)Pyrene.”
James-Creedon, who is familiar with this process, noted studies and tests have been conducted in order to determine the high levels of benzene (a gas) that was found in the Ken-Ton area. However, there have not been any studies conducted to determine if there are chemicals in the soil.
In addition, residents in the Kaufman Avenue, Sawyer Avenue and James Avenue, in Tonawanda, have been complaining about a black, goo-like substance falling from the sky and landing on their vehicles and their vegetables, and then burning off the paint or burning holes in their crops.
As a result of the findings in the soil samples and the goo-like substance, which is significantly reducing the quality of life for these residents, James-Creedon is starting a surface soil sampling and testing project in Tonawanda.
The sampling is a preliminary step to determine what the sticky substance is and if there might be similar findings of those found in Birmingham. If the soil contains PAH’s or heavy metals and poses a health threat, the next step will be to work with the NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation and the NYS Dept of Health to determine if other neighborhoods have been affected and if the Coke Plant and/or other sources are the cause of these occurrences and to remediate the problem.
“I am looking for specific chemicals. We will be testing for 150 PAH’s, which are semi-volatile compounds that are formed mainly from combustion. I will also be testing for a list of eight different heavy metals. A few metals on that list include mercury, lead and arsenic,” said James-Creedon.
In 2005, soil testing was conducted on site at Tonawanda Coke, a Superfund Site. It was determined there were high rates of the Benzo(a)Pyrene (BAP).
“I don’t know what this was caused by,” said James-Creedon. “I don’t know if this was from a spill or in the air. But, this was done on site and there has been no testing done off of the site.”
According to James-Creedon, BAP was found above guideline levels in almost all surface soil samplings on site at Tonawanda Coke and it was found at levels that posed a health risk in some N Birmingham, AL yards where they have two coke plants nearby. These yards are currently being remediated. In the “coking” process, BAP emissions come as a result of part of the “pushing” process, which occurs when coal is pushed out of the oven after it is burned and then cooled with water.
This is often seen to the naked eye as steam coming from the smoke stacks at Tonawanda Coke.
The plant, located in Tonawanda, is the only plant in the nation that does not have controls on the pushing process.
Even though it may be suspected that Tonawanda Coke is the culprit, there is no proof they are producing Benzo(a)Pyrene or that the goo-like substance can be attributed to the production at the plant.
“I want to see a bag house or some other emission control on this pushing process,” said James-Creedon. “The benzene is a gas, so that goes everywhere. But this sticky substance is semi-volatile so they are not going as far and wide as the gas.”
The DEC would have to implement the controls provided something is discovered after the soil testing.
James-Creedon collaborated with Dr. Joe Gardella from the University of Buffalo and another researcher in Birmingham, AL to devise the soil sampling plan. Sampling will cost $225 per sample; James-Creedon is hoping to get seven or eight samples.
“The more the better,” she said.
Plans to get the project started are set for late October, pending funding is provided by that time. Testing will be conducted at Test America, in Amherst.
James-Creedon is looking to the community for help with funding. She is reaching out to churches, corporations and organizations in the Ken-Ton community to raise $1,900 and conduct testing in the Kaufman Avenue, Sawyer Avenue and James Avenue areas, near River Road and in the heart of all the industry.
For more information visit http://www.npr.org/2011/11/10/142189390/tonawanda-provides-lessons-for-fighting-toxic-air or call James-Creedon at 873-6191.