7 May 2013
Tragedy at the Love Canal
A quite family neighborhood would awake one day to find themselves the center of one of the most devastating environmental disasters of all time. Originally designed as a dream community and named for William Love the owner of the tract of land in Niagara Falls, New York it would later become a life and law changing event. When the original plans for the canal were considered it was thought to be an economical way to bring a cheap source of power to the would be development, but William Love struggled to find the path he needed to turn his ...view middle of the document...
In the beginning of 1979 the citizens of the Love Canal began filing a series of lawsuits against Hooker, the city of Niagara Falls and the Board of Education (since it was the proposal of the site on which the 99th St. School was built that sparked the later development of the canal). Since Hooker had strongly conveyed their concerns to the board about the development of the site, even so much as to state it in the bill of sale, they felt that the blame should rest with them. Although, what is now known as, Occidental Chemical Corporation, did not physically build and sell the homes in the development they would ultimately pay the EPA $129 million dollars in cleanup cost. This researcher could find no information on the culpability of the city and or the Board of Education.
Although the events of the Love Canal cannot be thought of as unique, it will be known as event that had lasting impact on environmental law. From the purchase of unlivable homes, to the initial part played by the government in the evacuation process it would be known as the first time the federal government took steps of this magnitude that did not originate from a natural disaster. Several new government agencies and acts were also put into place following the tragedy at Love Canal. The Comprehensive Environmental Response and Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or better known as the Superfund Act was passed in 1980 as a direct result of Love Canal and the Valley of the Drums in Kentucky and is designed to clean up sites that have been contaminated with hazardous substances. It created the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and provides it with a broad federal authority to clean up releases or possible releases of hazardous substances that could be of danger to public or environmental health. The law also authorized the EPA to identify the parties that are responsible for the contamination of sites and urge (and I don’t use that word lightly) the parties to clean up the sites. Where responsible parties...