Demolishing the smokestacks of the former Tonawanda Coke Corporation in the summer of 2021 marked a critical milestone in the community’s 16-year-long struggle for clean air, water, and soil. This history of the fight for environmental justice in the community of Tonawanda, NY, located on the industrialized Niagara River, details how community and regulatory science data were leveraged for monumental advancements of environmental health and self-determination. At the heart of this long-term campaign’s successes—that includes regulatory enforcement, criminal prosecution, and closure of the plant—was the labor of establishing and maintaining working relationships between stakeholders. This article is written by and with community members, nonprofit staff, an academic, and a retired state regulatory scientist to collectively document the ways that the traditional pitfalls of community-initiated pursuits of accountability for environmental polluters were overcome.
Environmental Justice.ahead of print.