ERIE, Pa. (WJET) – Erie residents who live close to the Erie Coke plant say they were pleasantly shocked to hear the plant was shutting down.
“I am very happy — very, very happy. In the swimming pool, our swimming pool would be covered in soot and I’d have to go out there every morning and clean all that off before the kids could swim,” said Irene Rubay, an Erie resident.
Rubay has been living on Queen Street for more than 30 years. She and her son say living next to Erie Coke has been challenging, but they are sad for the employees who are now unemployed.
“I feel really, really sorry for them,” Rubay said.
Another neighbor says three of his friends recently died from cancer. He says he believes the pollution from Erie Coke is what caused their illnesses.
“I think the lives of everybody in this neighborhood deserve a little bit better air quality and a little bit better life than what we have been getting,” said Bob S.
Members of the group “Hold Erie Coke Accountable” say this is a very bittersweet moment for them.
“It would be a sad bit of news with Christmas coming up if in fact they are shutting down and those jobs are lost,” said Mike Campbell, of Hold Erie Coke Accountable. “That was never our intention; we just wanted them to step up to the plate and upgrade the plant as necessary.”
The Erie Coke plant has a long list of violations issued by the State Department of Environmental Protection. Some of those violations date back to April, while others have been on the books for 10 years.
To see a timeline of recent events that led up to the plant shutting down, you can review them here