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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Twenty years ago, New York state officials first detected a stew of toxic chemicals seeping up from the ground at place called, Love Canal.


CURWOOD: Twenty years ago, New York State officials first detected a stew of toxic chemicals seeping up from the ground at a place called Love Canal. The area was named for William T. Love, who started to build a canal in 1893 near the Niagara Falls. The waterway was supposed to provide hydropower for a future metropolis that Mr. Love declared would be "the most perfect city in existence." But the project was abandoned, and a half a century later Hooker Chemical, a plastics company, used the leftover pit to dump tons of toxic chemicals. Later, homes were built on the landfill. One of the most infamous hazardous waste disasters in US history, Love Canal was a major reason why lawmakers created Superfund, which has since helped identify 2,000 hazardous waste sites nationwide. This month, checks are being distributed to 900 former residents of Love Canal, bringing the last court settlements to an end. Today, Love Canal is called Black Creek Village, and the EPA says most of the area is now inhabitable. And while no one is calling it the most perfect city in existence, people are moving back in, buying homes that go for about 20% less than the area average. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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