Love Canal

1892 - William T. Love began construction of a canal to divert water from the upper Niagra River in New York for an electric power plant, but the dpression of the 1890s left the canal partially-dug

1920 - the Hooker Chemical Company bought the canal site at public auction and used it as a chemical dump site for 21,800 tons of chemicals until 1953. It was also a dump site for the city of Niagra Falls and the U. S. Army; Hooker became a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corporation; a total of 22,000 tons of 200 different toxic chemicals were dumped into the canal, including benzene that causes leukemia, and dioxin found in 200 tons of trichlorophenol

1953 - Hooker covered the site with dirt and sold the land to the Niagra Falls Board of Education for $1.00
Love Canal

1955 - the 99th Street elementary school opened and homes were built on the 16-acre rectangular site

1972 - Lois Gibbs moved into a house on 101st Street with new baby son Michael; daughter Melissa was born in 1975

1976 - Calspan, a private research organization, found chemicals leaking at Love Canal

1978 - the story of Love Canal became a national issue:

June - Mike Brown of the Niagra Falls Gazette published articles on the poisons in the canal; Lois Gibbs began door-to-door campaign for a petition to cleanup the school; the New York State Department of Health under Dr. Nicholas Vianna held the first public hearings, stories of dogs burning their noses from sniffing the ground and children unable to play in the backyards because the soil burned the bottom of their feet; Lois Gibbs

Aug. 2 - the NY State Department of Health recommended temporary relocation of preganant women and young children

Aug. 4 - the Love Canal Homeowners Association is organized by Lois Gibbs

Aug. 7 - Gov. Hugh Carey visited Love Canal with press, met with LCHA

Aug. 9 - Gov. Carey signed an order for the permanent relocation of 239 families known to have miscarriages and birth defects, but action was delayed

Nov. 18 - Jonestown mass suicide in Guyana; federal government spent $8 million bringing home 913 bodies

1979 - Relocation began

Feb. 9 - New York approved the relocation of pregnant women, but delayed action; instead, the state began construction of a drainage system

March - ABC televised the documentary The Killing Ground about the toxic waste problem

July - New York began to move 120 families to motels

Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden and Lois Gibbs at Love Canal
Aug. 21 - Lois Gibbs took a dead branch to a public meeting to prove to the Health Department that deadly chemicals were killing the vegetation, not cold weather

Sept. 7 - meetings with the EPA in Washington, with HEW Secretary Patricia Harris

Oct. 4 - Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden visit Love Canal, tried to get more media exposure, but Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes refused to do stories on toxic waste sites

1980 - Federal government acted

May 16 - EPA reported chromosone damage in 36 residents

May 19 - Monday morning crowd gathered at LCHA office, 2 EPA hostages kept inside until White House acted, FBI threatened arrests, Lois Gibbs set deadline of noon Wednesday and released hostages, called White House press office at five minutes after deadline and was read a press release that authorized relocation of all 810 families
Carter signed Love Canal bill with Lois Gibbs, Jacob Javits 9/30/80

May 21 President Carter declared a health emergency due to the EPA study that found broken chromosomes; 810 families were eleigible for temporary relocation; Oct. 1 Carter signed a bill to permanenty relocate all families from Love Canal

June 18 - "Love Canal People" appeared on Phil Donahue TV show

Sept. 19 - ABC Good Morning America segment on Love Canal

Sept. 30 - President Carter trip to Niagara Falls to sign Javits bill authorizing $15 million to purchase Love Canal homes

1981 - by Feb. 400 families had been moved

1988 - although the 239 homes closest to the canal were demolished, New York began in September to allow 200 homes north of the canal to be sold to new families and re-inhabited, and declared that Love Canal was habitable, yet the 20,000 tons of toxic chemicals remained below ground

1992 - FHA under Jack Kemp began to provide mortgage insurance for the re-inhabited Love Canal homes

1994 - Occident Petroleum Co. paid $98 million to New York to pay for the clean-up and relocation, and in 1995 paid $129 million to the federal government, and by 1997 paid $20 million to settle a class action suit from 1,300 people - CNN story

1998 - of the 900 families at Love Canal, 67 decided to stay and 733 were relocated

photos from Love Canal, The Story Continues by Lois Marie Gibbs, New Society Publishers, 1998.