“If it weren’t for the barren lots where homes once stood, it might have felt like old times at Love Canal. Lois Gibbs and members of her organization, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, addressed a throng of reporters Friday morning near the corner of 100th Street and Colvin Boulevard. Several former residents of the neighborhood were there also.

The occasion was the 30th anniversary of the first state of emergency declaration in the neighborhood. On Aug. 2, 1978, state Health Commissioner Robert Whalen ordered the closure of the 99th Street School and recommended the evacuation of pregnant women and young children. Eventually, more than 950 families were relocated and 350 homes and the school were demolished as the situation generated local outcry and national headlines. It prompted a federal state of emergency declaration from President Jimmy Carter on Aug. 7, 1978, and was the inspiration for both the state and federal Superfund programs.

A 70-acre fenced cap over the original 16-acre landfill now covers the site of the former canal, where Hooker Chemical Company dumped nearly 22,000 tons of toxic waste from 1942 to 1953. Years of testing, cleanup and studies ensued in the wake of the initial reports. The widespread publicity made former resident Gibbs, the most outspoken of the neighborhood residents and former president of the Love Canal Homeowners Association, a household name. And it made Love Canal infamous. But 30 years later, the people who did so much when Love Canal became an issue aren’t sitting back and reminiscing. The problems don’t only exist in the past, they say.”

(via Niagara Gazette)