The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced it will conduct air quality sampling near the Erie Coke plant and throughout the Erie Community to collect data to assess health risks to the general population.

DEP will be monitoring for compounds related to coke production, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. Thirteen monitors will be placed along the perimeter of the facility and at four locations in the community.

DEP will be holding a meeting to explain the purpose of the testing at 5 p.m. July 22, at the E. F. Smith Quality of Life Learning Center.

According to the DEP, they have developed the sampling plan in response to concerns raised by the members of a community stakeholder group formed by the DEP, as well as recent actions requiring Erie Coke to address numerous, ongoing violations of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act, many of which Erie Coke has appealed and not complied with.

“Erie Coke has a long history of violations that DEP continues to address. Based on the number of air quality violations, Erie Coke’s lack of intention or ability to address those violations, and the understandable concerns of the community regarding air quality, DEP is moving forward with this sampling plan. This facility will still have a presence in this community urging the current legal proceedings, and we must continue to take steps to address any environmental concerns stemming from Erie Coke,” said DEP Northwest Regional Office Director James Miller.

July 1, DEP announced it denied Erie Cokes application to renew its Title V operating permit, and has filed a complaint for injunctive relief in Erie County Court seeking to shut down the coke production facility following years of numerous repetitive environmental violations. The case is currently before the Environmental Hearing Board.