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Tonawanda Coke files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

WBFO file photo

Tonawanda Coke, which has already begun the process of shutting down its operations, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company, in a statement released Monday, cited financial difficulties and several government actions as causes for their need to close. In the papers filed Monday, the company states the property where it is now closing down its coke ovens poses a public health and safety risk.

The company listed its assets and liabilities at values between $10 million and $50 million. 

News of the company's plan to shut down broke Friday afternoon. Tonawanda Coke's official statement released Monday reads in part: "Sadly, largely due to the financial obligations of its criminal sentence, significant and unanticipated expenses, the loss of a funding source, and the multiple and coordinated enforcement actions brought by various government agencies, Tonawanda Coke cannot continue operations."

WIVB-TV, which broke the news Tuesday of Tonawanda Coke's bankruptcy filing, indicates the company owes dozens of businesses money, all of which are listed in a bankruptcy document that exceeds 250 pages.

WBFO placed calls to Hodgson Russ, the law firm representing the company, but those calls were not returned as of early Tuesday afternoon.

The Clean Air Coalition, meanwhile, issued a written statement urging Tonawanda Coke's leadership be held responsible for cleanup and health care costs: "Due to the long history of egregious violations by this company, and the statement from Tonawanda Coke about the hazards present on their site, Clean Air is calling for Paul Saffrin and Tonawanda Coke Trustees to be personally liable in the case that the company cannot pay pensions, and retirement benefits.

"In addition, Clean Air calls for Tonawanda Coke leadership to be held accountable to cover the costs of medical monitoring of workers, and cover the cost of remediation of their site.

"The Tonawanda Coke site sits on the Niagara River, and in a residential community and a neighborhood of families with children. It is the responsibility of Tonawanda Coke leadership to clean up their mess, and not put this unjust burden on families in Western New York."

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