The decision to close Erie Coke ends a long battle between the company and state and federal regulators.
It’s a sparring match that has gone on for years with regulators citing air and water pollution violations, Erie Coke paying fines and promising to do better.
The state nearly closed the plant in 2010, citing the need for expensive scrubbers that would clean air emissions. A plan was put into place, but the problems persisted. In 2016, the parties signed a consent decree, laying out a timetable for repairs, a schedule that eventually was not followed.
But, the beginning of the end may be traced to April of this year, when a holding tank gave way, pouring wastewater onto the ground and threatening bay water. Regulators had seen enough, and in July hearings were held looking to revoke the plant’s operating permit.
On top of that, the City of Erie restricted the plant’s use of the wastewater system, citing high levels of two byproduct chemicals. It was apparently a one-two punch that knocked the plant right out of business.