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Love Canal, Chemical Waste LandEdit
Known as one of the biggest tocix disasters of in United States history, love canal changed the way people looked at buying new homes in places that seemed too good to be true.
When i think of a toxic waste land i only imagine it would be something from a comic book or sci-fi movie. Never would i have believed that an elementary school could be knowingly built on land that would harm the young attending it. The location was NIagara Falls, New York in 1954. Construction began on this waste site for a new school and neighborhood but the new residents had no idea what awful conditions they were moving into.
Start of Love CanalEdit
The name Love Canal came from the last name of William T. Love who envisioned a canal connecting the two levels of the NIagara River separated by Niagara Falls. After 1892, Love's plan changed to incorporate a shipping lane that would bypass the falls in order to reach Lake Ontario. Unfortunately, Love's envision of "Model City" was never finished. After a couple of streets and a little digging he ran out of money. Eventually the canal gradually filled with water where kids swam in the summer and skated in the winter. By the 1940's a company by the name of Hooker Chemical Company began searching for a dumping site for all the chemical waste it was producing. Niagara Power and Development Company granted them permission in '42 and the canal was drained later filled with a nasty thick goo. By 1952 there had been over 21,000 tons of chemicals dumped in the site. After the canal was covered with dirt from a depth ranging of twenty to twenty-five feet where vegetation such as grass began to grow.
Selling of the Wast LandEdit
During this time the population was growing and school board was desperate for land. They attempted to purchase land from Hooker but they refused. The school board was even taken to the site and showed that this was not a safe place to build property on. Faced with the property being condemned, Hooker agreed to sell the property the property on the condition that the whole property be bought together. April 28, 1953 Hooker signed away the property with a seventeen caveat that explained the dangers of building on the site. Thus they released all legal obligations should legal lawsuits arise in the future.
Building of the 99th Street School DistrectEdit
The school board began construction of the 99th street school. An architect for the school wrote to the education committee informing them that during excavation, workers discovered two dump sites filled with fifty-five gallon drums containing chemical wastes. He also stated that because of all the chemicals, it would be poor policy to build on top of it because it would damage the concrete. The school was finished in 1955 where 400 students atteneded the institution. That same year a 25 foot area crumbled exposed toxic chemicals, it later filled with water from rain storms which created puddles that little children loved to play in.
In 1976, two reporters for the Niagara Gazette, David Pollak and David Russell, tested several dump-pumps near Love Canal and found toxic chemicals in them. The matter went quiet for more than a year and was brought up again by reporter Michael Brown, who then investigated potential health effects by carrying forth an informal door-to-door survey in the early summer of 1978, finding birth defects and many anomalies. He found that many of the houses had unknown miscarrages, still births, hyperactivity, nervous breakdowns, epilepsy and urinary tract disorders. When the miscarriages were compared to the number of miscarriages that occurred in the same women before they moved to Love Canal, miscarriages were found to have increased 300%. The study also showed that during the 4-year period from 1974 to 1978, 56% of the children in the Love Canal neighborhood were born with a birth defect (9 birth defects among 16 children born) that included three ears, double row of teeth and mental retardation. People with the nervous breakdowns were also very common to have suicide attempts of admissions to mental hospitals. When these results were brought up to state health authorities they quickly dismissed the data calling it "useless housewife data" saying that the residents illness's was all in their heads, the birth defects were genetic and the urinary tract diseases were due to sexual activity. Really in a 5 year old?!
After years of investigation and people complaing without anything being done had a resident, Lois Gibbs, a mother of a child who unfortunetly suffered from the chemical effects, started the Love Canal Homeowners Association and did