Controversy over crematory smoke stack
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TONAWANDA, N.Y. — For years neighbors of the Amigone Funeral Home in Tonawanda said they've dealt with unbearable smells and smoke whenever the crematory is running.
"I'm concerned for the welfare of my children," said Ron Gniazdowski. "Who knows what we're inhaling on a regular basis? Who knows what kind of toxins are in the air? The fact that you can see it and smell it is enough for me to be concerned."
The smokestack is yards away from many of the backyards. Neighbors said they're never sure when the smoke will begin to come out.
"We shouldn't have to schedule a picnic and all of a sudden, in the middle of having a barbecue, move everybody inside because the smell is so pungent you can't even breath in your backyard," Neal Hodgson said.
Residents said local government has failed to act in the past so now they're calling the New York State Attorney General to sue Amigone Funeral Home.
"We're saying this because we have to give them a deadline because it has been twenty years," Clean Air Coalition of WNY Director Erin Heaney said. "There has to be some point at which you say enough is enough and we want the public nuisance lawsuit."
Neighbors believe they have a stronger case after a study last year showed crematory remnants in samples.
But Anthony Amigone Sr. said the crematory is heavily regulated and has only had one violation in 22 years.
"They've been here, D.E.C. and the Attorney General's office have been here. They've stayed with them the whole process. We've cremated in front of them. That was way over a year ago. We haven't heard from them," Amigone said.
Amigone said they've done everything they could to pacify neighbors except move. He said that's not a possibility because of the price and state law which only allow crematories to be on cemetery property.
"We live here," he said. "Our family is here. Our children work here. My grandchildren work here everyday. It hasn't affected us."
But neighbors said the reasons aren't good enough.
"Common sense has to come into play play at some point here. It's time to take it out of this neighborhood. It does not belong here," Gniazdowski said.
Residents are sending more than 300 postcards to the Attorney General, asking him to take action immediately.