A Brief History
On August 7, 1978, President Jimmy Carter recognized the toxic waste that had been disposed of negligently into a residential area canal as a federal emergency.
The Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York had been planned in 1890, but only reached a portion of its planned size. The eponymous canal in the neighborhood was used for industrial dumping of various chemical by-products by the Hooker Chemical Company as well as municipal waste products.
By the 1950s, people took notice of the health problems experienced by people in the neighborhood, finally drawing the attention of the President and federal government. In response, Congress passed the Superfund law to address environmental disasters, and a 21-year clean-up effort ensued.
About 21,800 tons of chemicals had been deposited, creating an enormous need for clean-up. Residents had suffered numerous maladies, including leukemia, chromosome damage, seizures, learning problems, birth defects, miscarriages, and cancers. Numerous lawsuits followed!
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For more information, please see…
Gibbs, Lois Marie. Love Canal: and the Birth of the Environmental Health Movement. Island Press, 2011.
Newman, Richard. Love Canal: A Toxic History from Colonial Times to the Present. Oxford University Press, 2016.
The featured image in this article, an image of the Love Canal site from the National Map, is in the public domain in the United States because it only contains materials that originally came from the United States Geological Survey, an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. For more information, see the official USGS copyright policy.
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