Erie Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution taking a formal position on what it called “toxic pollution emerging from the Erie Coke Plant.”
“Janice Etchison wanted to make one thing clear to Erie City Council members as she stepped to the microphone.The concerns that she and others share about how Erie Coke Corp. operates are “not just an eastside issue,” Etchison told council members at City Hall on Wednesday morning. “This is a serious concern for the whole city.”Etchison, who lives on East Ninth Street, is a member of an Erie community organization, Hold Erie Coke Accountable, that has been closely monitoring environmental regulation issues at Erie Coke, located at the foot of East Avenue.The group also applauded Erie City Councilwoman Kathy Schaaf, who sponsored a resolution requesting that council send a formal letter to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection “regarding the toxic pollution emerging from” Erie Coke’s plant.”
Here is the letter council approved to send to the Department of Environmental Protection’s Northwest Regional Office about the matter:
“We, the City Council Members of the City of Erie, Pennsylvania, unite this April 4th, 2019 to stand behind and support the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the EPA as it works to ensure compliance with environmental regulations that serve to protect the public, our investments, and safeguard Erie as a great place to live work and play.Whereas City Council sees the DEP and EPA continually bring to our attention, the media, and citizens of Erie concerns for the on-going violations incurred by Erie Coke Corporation located at 925 East Bay Drive Erie, Pennsylvania 16512;Whereas City Council watches during this critical period of heightened scrutiny while DEP reviews Erie Coke’s re-application for both its required federal Clean Air Act Title V Operating Permit for air pollutants and Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for discharge of pollutants into our waters, we urge Erie Coke to fully disclose information and data as required;Whereas as a City Council body we acknowledge complaints by citizens of Erie that downwind, foul odor permeate their homes and soot and black smoke visibly emit from the plant;Whereas City Council confirms the health and wellness of our citizens are paramount to us and gives this the highest priority;Whereas City Council affirms that our citizens and community deserve the right to live without the toxic pollution that could possibly one day make them fall ill to debilitating illness, cancer or death;We as City Council urge all Erieites to be in touch with the DEP with any concerns or information, and any detection of emissions and odors regarding Erie Coke. Be ready to participate in public meetings and a hearing that the DEP will conduct in Erie as part of the DEP’s promised process in a review of Erie Coke’s permit applications;We as City Council commend the DEP’s enhanced review of Erie Coke’s permits which has been elevated to an “Enhanced Public Participation” process per the Environmental Justice Policy in recognition of the decades of the plant’s violations and the sensitive, low income downwind communities;We as a City Council body demand that the Erie Coke Plant be held accountable to all DEP and EPA regulations, to upgrade its facility as required or shut down their plant;We as City Council believe Erie’s future resides on the quest for high quality of life and it is essential that our workers and residents are afforded safe and healthful conditions essential to prosper and thrive;We as City Council understand that Erie’s economic and social equity aspirations don’t equate with news of repeated industrial violations, daily sooty airborne stains wafting over our waterfront and neighborhoods, and foul odors that cause residents to retreat into their homes and offices;With this resolution the Erie City Council desires for our business community and residents to know that we are standing up for a prosperous and healthy Erie as a 21st-century city of choice.”
For more information on the recent administrative order DEP filed against Erie Coke Works, check out our blog.
For more information on a community event being held jointly by HECA and GASP, the details are here.