Love Canal’s history
William T. Love envisioned a canal connecting the lower Niagara river to the upper level because of the falls separating the two. When the economy collapsed in 1892 after one whole mile – 15 feet wide and ten feet deep – of constructing the canal, the project came to an end. When the land was sold to Niagara Falls City in 1920, the city started filling the “canal” with chemical warfare waste. In 1947 Hooker Chemicals and Plastics Corporation acquired private use of the land and buried 21,000 tons of toxic waste and filled the “canal” in 1951.
Over that course of time, the population in the Niagara Falls area was rapidly increasing and the city was looking for land to build on. The city bought Love Canal for $1, sewers, basements and houses were built on the land. Health concerns were reported the following years but the severity of the situation wasn’t realized until the President of the Love Canal Home Builders Association, Lois Gibbs, investigated the situation himself.
Many sick homeowners fought hard for their right to leave, with compensation, from the area without success. National attention to Love canal began in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter declared a state of emergency for the site. Scientists were brought in to test the leakages in the basements and the quality of air to see what was making the residents so ill. The Environmental Protection Agency sued Hooker Chemicals and Plastics Corporation for $129 million for the 800 families that were relocated.
Freshman at NU ’21, lived in area for about 8-9 years. “I didn’t know that there was even radiation in my neighborhood until the other residents started putting signs up. They put up the fence over the summer to keep people out, but the deer can jump it no problem. As far as I know, my family was never told about the ongoing removal of radioactive gravel. I sometimes wonder if it is harming my family and the other residents in the neighborhood. I walk my dog, there are new families moving in and there is wildlife to be taken care of. What’s being done about this problem?”
Sydney Wade (NU ’20)
Did anyone notify your family about the removal of the toxic waste?
- They notified us after they started working on it – after the EPA was there.
How do you feel about living across the street from the sight?
- Sucks, 1) it’s an eyesore, 2) even before it was on our property it took the value out of our property
- It is on our property and our neighbors
How did the waste get on your property?
- Back years ago, across the street, there was a road connecting Irving to the cemetery and the gravel was radioactive. They had a company come and they were supposed to take it out and move it,. Instead they saw cheap gravel, so then in the 50s when they made our driveway, the same company put the same gravel in our driveways and our neighbors basement and also rapids bowling alleys back parking lot.
Were you relocated as a result of the gravel?
- No, Our driveway has as much as an x-ray, but the place across the street has 75 times more than what this environment is supposed to have.
What do you feel should be done by the state to compensate for the radioactive waste?
- Have the EPA come back and finish what they started. They said they would and take out the gravel from our houses. They just left it.