Tag: VOB

Love Canal Tragedy Remembered Decades Later As History Repeats Itself In Riverview Florida

Love Canal Tragedy Remembered Decades Later As History Repeats Itself In Riverview Florida

Love Canal Toxic Waste Seeps Up
Love Canal Toxic Waste Began Surfacing From Underground After Heavy Rainfall

Love Canal became the subject of national and international attention after it was revealed in the press that the site had formerly been used to bury 22,000 tons of toxic waste by Hooker Chemical Company (now Occidental Petroleum Corporation).

The city of Niagara Falls began using the land as a landfill for chemical waste disposal and later the U.S. Army began burying waste from chemical warfare experiments. The Hooker Chemical and Plastics Corporation acquired the use of the site for private use in 1947 and buried 21,000 tons of toxic waste there over the next five years. After the site was filled, Hooker sold the Love Canal for one dollar to the Niagara Falls School Board in 1953, and the land was approved for residential use.

Thirty-five years after Love Canal became a symbol of the dangers of toxic waste in residential neighborhoods, the legal and medical issues there are still playing out.” (as will happen with Riverview)…

Did the EPA learn NOTHING from The Love Canal tragedy? Did they “forget”? Or, are they just sellouts of humanity that don’t care as long as it doesn’t affect their families, while being paid off to turn a blind eye until the point where it can no longer be ignored with a subsequent bigger payoff in the form of a monetary “fine”, a mere slap on the wrist to the repeat offender while ignoring their repetitive careless contamination? These are questions that should be PUBLICLY ASKED of the EPA regarding their complicity in allowing land developers, (consisting of attorneys who know how to skirt the law), to have built a residential community on a similar toxic waste site in Riverview, Florida, ignoring the deadly consequences (until it becomes profitable not to).

Love Canal School
Source: Environmental Research Foundation

To understand the ongoing battle in Riverview, it is important to fully comprehend the tragedy at the Love Canal. This heartfelt and thorough assessment By Eckardt C. Beck, Administrator of EPA Region 2, 1977-1979, was found on the EPA’s own website. Yet, to this day, the Love Canal has subsequently been swept under the rug again, as history repeats itself in Riverview, Florida.

The Love Canal Tragedy

by Eckardt C. Beck
EPA Journal – January 1979

Quite simply, Love Canal is one of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American history.

But that’s not the most disturbing fact.

What is worse is that it cannot be regarded as an isolated event. It could happen again–anywhere in this country–unless we move expeditiously to prevent it.

It is a cruel irony that Love Canal was originally meant to be a dream community. That vision belonged to the man for whom the three-block tract of land on the eastern edge of Niagara Falls, New York, was named–William T. Love.

Love felt that by digging a short canal between the upper and lower Niagara Rivers, power could be generated cheaply to fuel the industry and homes of his would-be model city.

But despite considerable backing, Love’s project was unable to endure the one-two punch of fluctuations in the economy and Nikola Tesla’s discovery of how to economically transmit electricity over great distances by means of an alternating current.

By 1910, the dream was shattered. All that was left to commemorate Love’s hope was a partial ditch where construction of the canal had begun.

Screenshot (32)

In the 1920s the seeds of a genuine nightmare were planted. The canal was turned into a municipal and industrial chemical dump-site.

Landfills can of course be an environmentally acceptable method of hazardous waste disposal, assuming they are properly sited, managed, and regulated. Love Canal will always remain a perfect historical example of how not to run such an operation.

In 1953, the Hooker Chemical Company, then the owners and operators of the property, covered the canal with earth and sold it to the city for one dollar.

It was a bad buy.

In the late ’50s, about 100 homes and a school were built at the site. Perhaps it wasn’t William T. Love’s model city, but it was a solid, working-class community. For a while.

On the first day of August, 1978, the lead paragraph of a front-page story in the New York Times read:

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y.–Twenty five years after the Hooker Chemical Company stopped using the Love Canal here as an industrial dump, 82 different compounds, 11 of them suspected carcinogens, have been percolating upward through the soil, their drum containers rotting and leaching their contents into the backyards and basements of 100 homes and a public school built on the banks of the canal.

In an article prepared for the February, 1978 EPA Journal, I wrote, regarding chemical dump-sites in general, that “even though some of these landfills have been closed down, they may stand like ticking time bombs.” Just months later, Love Canal exploded.

The explosion was triggered by a record amount of rainfall. Shortly thereafter, the leaching began.

I visited the canal area at that time. Corroding waste-disposal drums could be seen breaking up through the grounds of backyards. Trees and gardens were turning black and dying. One entire swimming pool had been had been popped up from its foundation, afloat now on a small sea of chemicals. Puddles of noxious substances were pointed out to me by the residents. Some of these puddles were in their yards, some were in their basements, others yet were on the school grounds. Everywhere the air had a faint, choking smell. Children returned from play with burns on their hands and faces…

Love Canal School Closure

And then there were the birth defects. The New York State Health Department is continuing an investigation into a disturbingly high rate of miscarriages, along with five birth-defect cases detected thus far in the area.

RIVERVIEW, FLORIDA – PRESENT DAY

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