30 years after Love Canal – schoolchildren are still at risk

Lois Gibbs and her children – 30 years ago

Thirty years ago this summer, America learned the name Love Canal. The working-class Niagara Falls neighborhood built atop tons of chemical waste became a synonym for environmental disaster.

Troubles at the local elementary school — and health problems among its students, such as seizure disorders — were among the first signs of a much larger problem that made news around the world and prompted federal Superfund legislation to clean up the most polluted sites in the United States.

Despite the outcry over Love Canal, little has been done to make schoolchildren safer from hazardous or toxic waste, says Lois Gibbs. “We should be farther along today than we are,” said Gibbs, who started the nonprofit Center for Health, Environment & Justice a year after her evacuation from Love Canal. The organization is dedicated to helping communities facing environmental threats.

A 2005 study looking at just four states — Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Michigan — found half a million children attending schools within half a mile of known toxic dumps.

Trying to get corporate America to own up to responsibility for anything – much less pollution – makes you feel like Sisyphus.

My family is part of a class action suit in its second decade of litigation against one of the asbestos-based companies that declared bankruptcy once their cancer role went public. They had “donated” asbestos laced waste as landfill to the construction of a school in my hometown back East. The first couple of classes through the school acquired cancers at a rate nine times the regional average.

Including my niece who died from lymphoma before she reached thirty.

6 thoughts on “30 years after Love Canal – schoolchildren are still at risk

  1. Jim says:

    Too bad the dirty little secret is that the private industry warned the city and the school system well before that it wasn’t a good idea to build there. As usual, government doesn’t listen to reason and then blames the company that warned them of the danger. So now, 30 years later we still have stories that blame the companies and not the real-life guilty party–the government.


  2. god says:

    Golly gee, Jim. How about a link to some public document or other? The reason I ask is that I have seen the documents from Hooker – and they say there was only a minor risk of contact dermatitis.

    Which is like saying the Hiroshima Bomb was only dangerous for the first few seconds after the explosion.

  3. Jim says:

    I haven’t looked for them in years and I only saw them on microfiche (see how old I am?! lol) so I couldn’t give you days and volume numbers anymore. All I do know is that it is bunk science story most of the time. There isn’t enough time in the day to go finding this anymore to be brutally honest. The documents are out there if people do the research.


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