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Love Canal

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When it comes to legal issues regarding environmental issues, one of the biggest cases in our history comes to mind, Love Canal. This environmental tragedy could have been prevented but as a result, major changes in the handling of waste management were put into place that still continues today.

Because it happened in the 1970s a whole generation may not be aware of what actually happened and what could still happen today if manufacturers are not regulated in their handling of toxic waste materials.

In the 1890s a man named Fletcher T. Love whose dream it was to connect the Niagara River with Niagara Falls by way of a canal. Limitations of power transmissions and funding problems caused the project to fall by the wayside. A few years later Love figured out an alternate plan and envisioned a perfect little community, ironically called Model City that would be made up of parks and homes that would run along Lake Ontario.

The plans again were abandoned and Model City never came to fruition. The canal filled with water and became dumping grounds for Niagara Falls in the 1920s. In the 1940s the Hooker Chemical Company was granted permission by the Niagara Power and Development Company to dump their ever-growing chemical waste materials. After the canal was drained and lined with thick layers of clay as insulation, the Hooker Company started putting their fifty-five gallon drums filled with hazardous materials. By 1952 more than 21,000 tons of chemical waste had filled the canal and it was covered over with dirt.

While the Niagara Falls area grew, they were looking for more properties to purchase and even though the Hooker Chemical Company warned them about the risks involved with the materials that were buried below, the property was sold to the city for one dollar.

What ensued after that was the result of inappropriate handling of waste materials and ignored warnings of potential exposure to toxic chemicals. Parts of the land began to crumble and the buried drums were exposed and began to taint the waterways and areas nearby.

Further down the line, homes were built in the area and the City of Niagara Falls put in a sewer system that actually broke through the walls of the canal further contaminating the waterways in the community. As a result, an alarming number of miscarriages, birth defects and serious illnesses began to affect the community. The president of the Love Canal Homeowners Association began to investigate these occurrences and the rest is history.

After years of fighting with the government, the Love Canal gained media attention but its notoriety was its claim as “one of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American history.

If you live in an area and recognize a pattern of illnesses, miscarriages or birth defects among residents in your neighborhood, you may want to further investigate the background on the area that you live in. Even though the Love Canal tragedy occurred years ago it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen today. Call our attorneys at 1-888-LAW-IN-NY and let one of our environmental litigations attorneys assist you.