The Erie Coke plant remains open even though its operating permit has expired. The company applied for the permit renewal before the August 2017 deadline, so the plant can operate while the renewal process takes place.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, that process involves plenty of public input.  So residents living near the plant, and local environmentalists, realize this is the time to effectively speak out against Erie Coke and its history of pollution.

They’ve formed a group named Hold Erie Coke Accountable, or HECA.  Their goal is not necessarily to shut the plant down, but to have Erie Coke abide by the rules of its operating permit.  HECA launched a web site last fall explaining the importance of the permit renewal application process and the importance of public participation in that process.  The group also has a Facebook page.  Prominent on both those sites is a video produced by the group that explains its mission.

HECA hosted a public meeting in April about Erie Coke to inform citizens about the permit renewal process and to explain how they can get involved. The guest speaker was the executive director of a Pittsburgh environmental group called GASP. It was revealed that Erie has only two air monitoring stations. One is at Presque Isle, two miles from Erie Coke. The other is at 10th and Marne, 1.6 miles from the plant.  The audience was told to insist for more.

HECA is also ready to do its own soil sampling to determine if any ground contamination in neighborhoods can be tied to the plant.