The Love Canal is located near Niagara Falls in upstate New York.The Canal was constructed as a waterway during the nineteenth century, but was abandoned shortly afterwards. The Love Canal story is essentially the story of the thousands of families who lived unknowingly amongst an abandoned toxic chemical waste dump.It wasn't thefirst time in U.S history where this has happened, nor was it the worst, but it did grab the public's attention. In the 1930's before the Love Canal area was turned into neighborhoods, the Hooker Chemical Company purchased the area and used it as a burial site for 20,000 metric tons of chemicals.In 1953 the Hooker Chemical Company sold the land to the Niagara Falls Board of Education for $1.
00.There was a stipulation in the deed, which stated that if anyone incurred physical harm or death because of their buried wastes, they would not be responsible.Shortly after, the land changed hands yet again and this time home building began directly adjacent to the canal.Families who bought homes here were unaware of the waste buried in their backyards. With all the new homes in the area, an elementary school was opened near the corner of the canal in 1955.
Soon after the opening, students and teachers began complaining of being burnt, nauseous odors, and black sludge (Gibbs 21).It wasn't till nearly thirty years later that the government finally decided to investigate the complaints. Hooker admits to burying about 21,800 tons of various chemicals in the canal.There are at least twelve known carcinogens in the canal including benzene which iswell-known for causing leukemia in people (Gibbs 22).The air, soil, and water tests have found chemical migration throughout a ten block residential area.The extent of the chemical migration is still unknown. The health effects due to the toxic waste dump are numerous and fatal.
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