The citizen group called Hold Erie Coke Accountable plans to live up to its name.    It will be conducting its own soil sampling outside the Erie Coke plant.

The citizen group has watched as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection slapped violation after violation against Erie Coke. The company last week received orders to repair its wastewater treatment facility after polluted water spilled onto the ground last month on two occasions.  Erie Coke was already appealing other violations when the spills occurred. This comes at the same time when Erie Coke is hoping to get its operating permit renewed by the state.

The citizens group knows now is the time to take action to make sure the company complies with environmental laws or is shut down.

Hold Erie Coke Accountable has decided to conduct its own soil sampling in the area around Erie Coke.  The decision was made after discussions with a citizens group from Tonawanda, New York.  That group of citizens was successful in eventually shutting down a coke plant in their town that was under the same ownership as Erie Coke.

"The citizens soil testing kind of got the ball rolling,” says Dr. Michael Campbell, of Hold Erie Coke Accountable.  “Then that helped to bring in other resources to have a much larger and more comprehensive analysis of the soil contamination done."

The citizen group plans to take samples at schools and public playgrounds.  It also will take samples on private property, particularly at gardens where food is grown.

Hold Erie Coke Accountable is inviting citizens to find out more about the sampling by attending a public meeting about Erie Coke to be held on April 16 at East Middle School.  The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.