Erie Coke Corp. has shut down operations at its bay-front facility, according to news reports.
GoErie.com’s Madeleine O’Neil reported that employees who showed up for work this morning were turned away, and that the company released a statement shortly before noon Thursday to confirm that the plant would be permanently shut down.
This news comes in the wake of a protracted legal battle between Erie Coke Corp. and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which this summer denied the company’s Title V permit and sought to have operations there shut down after repeated – and numerous – environmental violations. It wasn’t immediately clear whether a scheduled February proceeding before the Environmental Hearing Board would be cancelled now that company officials have decided to shutter the plant.
The closure comes days after the company announced that it would have to truck wastewater from the facility for treatment off site after missing a deadline set by the city to come into compliance with wastewater rules.
“A decision of that magnitude wasn’t made overnight. Blindsiding employees a week before Christmas is outrageous and its management team should be ashamed,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said.
The grassroots group Hold Erie Coke Accountable (HECA) released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
Today is a sad day for the Erie Community. It was never the intent of HECA, Hold Erie Coke Accountable, to close the Erie Coke plant. Our intent was, as our name implies, to hold them accountable, to ensure that they meet the environmental regulations that were meant to safeguard the health and welfare of our community. Public health must be a priority.No one relishes the loss of jobs. Erie Coke has had decades to avoid this moment but chose instead to abuse their workforce and the community here and also in Tonawanda.PA DEP stood up and enforced the regulations designed to protect the Erie community, giving Erie Coke many opportunities to be in compliance. We thank DEP and our elected leaders who have the backs and lungs of their constituents.DEP was supported unanimously by our concerned city and county councils who issued formal resolutions. Our mayor and county executive also were supportive of their constituents.Today’s event is in lockstep with the reality of the new economy where talent, business and investment flows only to locales of high quality of life. Erie Coke’s abuse of people and environment placed a strain on public health, the environment and also the economy by hurting Erie’s ability to compete for business, talent and investment. Environmental justice has been achieved for the people of Erie. Everyone is downwind.And it is admirable that we stood together to stick up for our right to clean air, water, land and life. Erie’s best future is in the hands of its people who no longer need to settle for anything but the best of life.Finally, we need to understand that the work is just beginning. We need to ensure that Erie Coke doesn’t just walk away from the large cleanup that will be needed. Our land, air, water and public health have been sacrificed for decades and if Erie Coke’s closure is imminent, then we need to continue the fight to reclaim the site for the Erie community.And Erie’s concern is sure to be shown in the swift way all come together to help workers displaced by Erie Coke to find new opportunities as soon as possible.
Here’s the associated media coverage:
From USA Today: Coke plant signals shutdown amid mounting pollution concerns,
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