BUFFALO — A 100-year-old industrial plant that is shutting down after clashing with neighbors and environmental regulators over pollution concerns filed for bankruptcy Tuesday.
Tonawanda Coke Corp. began permanently closing Sunday, citing a loss of financing amid government enforcement actions.
"We extend a debt of gratitude to all our workers, and sincerely apologize that circumstances beyond our control brought about this untimely end to the company's existence," the company said in a statement.
Its Chapter 11 filing lists $10 million to $50 million in assets and $10 million to $50 million in debts. After administrative expenses are paid, no funds will be available to pay unsecured creditors, according to the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Buffalo.
Tonawanda Coke was convicted in 2013 of violating federal law for releasing coke oven gas containing the carcinogen benzene into the air and improperly handling hazardous sludge on the ground. As part of its sentence, it was fined $12.5 million and required to pay up to $12.2 million to fund two studies of the health and environmental impacts of the facility on the community.
The company was found guilty last month of violating its probation following visible changes in smokestack emissions. It was ordered to expedite upgrades and emissions testing at its facility and pay for additional monitoring.
The company also faced a separate permit revocation hearing with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC is now overseeing the shutdown, the agency said in a statement.
The plant burns coal to produce coke, which is used as a fuel and in steelmaking. Its first coke ovens went into operation at the site along the Niagara River north of Buffalo in 1917.
Neighbors of the plant have waged a decade-long fight against the facility that they suspect is causing their cancer and other illnesses.
The town's supervisor said Monday he wants to see the 150-acre property cleaned up and re-purposed, and pitched the idea of making it the site of a future stadium for the Buffalo Bills.
Last month, Bills co-owner Kim Pegula told The Associated Press the NFL team has yet to determine whether to renovate its existing 46-year-old facility in Orchard Park or build a new one elsewhere.