Tonawanda Coke Soil Study

The Tonawanda Coke Soil Study investigates how pollution from the Tonawanda Coke Corp. plant has impacted soil in surrounding communities. A federal judge ordered Tonawanda Coke Corp. to fund the study after the company was convicted of violating the Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

The Tonawanda Coke Soil Study is led by Joseph Gardella Jr., PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB Department of Chemistry, who has about 40 years of experience studying the environmental impact of industrial pollutants.

The study team includes scientists from UB and SUNY Fredonia — including UB Research Assistant Professor of Chemistry Tammy Milillo, PhD; UB chemistry PhD candidate Kaitlin Ordiway; and SUNY Fredonia Professor of Chemistry Michael Milligan, PhD. All are experts in environmental chemistry.

Findings from the research will benefit residents in Grand Island, the City of Tonawanda, the Town of Tonawanda and North Buffalo by providing them with information about what chemicals are in their soil, how widespread any pollution may be, and whether these pollutants may have originated at the Tonawanda Coke plant.

Study Findings: February 24, 2022

Tonawanda Coke Corporation (TCC) Soil Study Wrap Up

Reports and Responses from TCC Soil and Health Studies to U.S. Department of Justice: November 22, 2019

Update and Phase II Results: November 21, 2019

On Nov. 21, 2019, the study team held a community meeting to provide the public with an update on the study. 

The team provided an update on the soil study’s next steps and reported on recent findings, including maps modeling the estimated distribution of certain pollutants in the study area. Please note: Because soil contamination can vary significantly between and even within individual properties, properties located in the study area may have levels of contamination above or below the general estimated values indicated by the maps.

The following materials were shared with the community at the Nov. 21 meeting:

Update and Phase I Results: January 16, 2019

On Jan. 16, 2019, the study team held a community meeting to provide the public with an update on the study.

The team shared findings from Phase 1, including information on three geographic regions of interest (ROIs) that scientists are investigating more closely based on findings from soil samples taken in 2017. Additional soil samples were taken from in and around these ROIs in 2018 as part of Phase 2 of the study, as well as from schools and churches.

The following materials were shared with the community at the Jan. 16 meeting:

TCC Soil Study Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Meeting Minutes

Regularly scheduled CAC meetings began in 2017 and meetings were held monthly with a few exceptions. Minutes were taken by Kathryn (Katie) Izzard (nee Little) until her maternity leave in early 2019. Laura Beth Hare, a Soil Study staff took over facilitation of the meetings until July 2019, when Phase 2 sample analysis and reporting was complete. Subsequent meetings have been held in October and November 2019 to prepare for the public meeting on November 21, 2019. No meeting minutes have been completed yet for those meetings.

Meeting Minutes

TCC Soil Study Reports and Probation Office Audit

Per Judge Skretny's order, the TCC Soil Study was required to prepare and submit reports to the Probation Office of the Court (Ms. Melissa Colley) every six months. The reports included a description of progress on the study, with reports from UB Chemistry, SUNY Fredonia Chemistry and CSCR included. Each partner in the project provided budget information for every report.

These reports began with a June 1, 2017 report and were completed as of March, 2019 as per an order from the Court which indicated that the Probation period for Tonawanda Coke was complete. No further reports were required by the Court.

Further, an audit of the TCC Soil Study finances and progress was completed. RF SUNY and UB provided additional information as per request of the Probation Office. The Judge issued an order in March 19, 2019 which found that "the scope and financial expenditures associated with the Soil Study are consistent with the study as approved."


Soil Study Reports