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Remembering Love Canal, current residents say dangers still exist

In 1978, the government officially told residents in the Niagara Falls neighborhood that they were living in a toxic zone as their homes were built on an industrial waste site. Niagara Falls residents and activists commemorated the 35th anniversary of the Love Canal relocation on Tuesday with a walking tour.

The Love Canal case is considered by many to be a landmark in the development of the modern environmental movement.

Former resident and Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice Lois Gibbs led the fight against the industrial contamination years ago. This week she led the walking tour with people currently living in the area to bring attention to other problems that still plague the site today.

Gibbs says the area still isn’t safe and is urging the federal government to relocate current residents and move all human life out of the area.

“One of the things we suggested way back in 1980 is you abandon it, you put a large fence around it and you let researchers come in here and figure out how do we contain something like this, how do the chemicals move,” she said.

Recently, current residents filed a $113 million lawsuit claiming that toxic chemicals continue to leak from Love Canal. Keith Boos lives in close proximity to the alleged source of the contaminants. He moved there 15 years ago, because he was told that it was safe and the contamination was contained.

But, Boos says back in January the EPA tested his home and found numerous toxic chemicals in the air.

“My wife has had two brain surgeries for two cysts on her pituitary gland. She’s constantly fatigued, and very forgetful. She’s only 43 years old. I have a very rare lung disease, I also have a cyst on my kidney that causes discomfort daily," said Boos. "

"My 22 year old daughter is constantly fatigued and forgets the easiest of these things. These are both signs of chemical exposure. My family has been deeply affected by these chemicals which reside in our home."

Boos said he is not alone. He said he has been told by other neighbors that they are experiencing similar issues.

“They were bamboozled into believing it was safe, and gave them the data, and God knows what else these folks got, and they innocently went in and bought what I bought 35 years ago, the American dream,” said Gibbs.

Gibbs is urging elected officials not to make the same mistake twice. She is asking they oppose the expansion of CWM hazardous waste landfill and the Covanta incinerator located in Niagara Falls.

WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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