Over the course of the last five years the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation released studies that detailed what many residents already knew; the air they were breathing could be hazardous to their health. The DEC report showed elevated levels of benzene, a chemical compound known to cause cancer. The agency said the primary source emitting it was an industrial plant called Tonawanda Coke Corporation, one of 53 in a two mile radius in town. The business was raided by the EPA in 2009 and was found guilty in a Buffalo Federal Courthouse on 14 counts of violating the Clean Air Act, among other charges.
Just two months ago, DOH released a report confirming elevated levels of various cancers in town and in nearby Erie County communities. Local residents have got together over the years and formed the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York to draw attention to what they call a "cancer crisis." Watch the full story above.