History: Chronology - Key Dates and Events
at Love Canal
by the Center for Health,
Justice, in 1997 with updates in 1998 and 2002.
1978 - Niagara Gazette Newspaper
reporter Michael Brown wrote a series on
hazardous waste problems in Niagara Falls,
NY including the Love Canal dumpsite.
1978 - Residents of area, concerned
about health risks from Love Canal after
reading Brown's articles, called local and
state health authorities for answers.
25, 1978 - New York State Health
Commissioner, confirmed that a public health
hazard existed in the Love Canal community.
ordered the Niagara County
Health Department to remove exposed chemicals from the site
and install a fence around the area.
1978 - Lois Gibbs, resident and mother of two children,
began to canvass the neighborhood with a petition to close
the 99th Street School located near the center of the dumpsite.
Gibbs' five year old son attended kindergarten in that school.
1978 - New York State Health Department met with
residents for the first time to explain potential hazards
of exposure to toxic chemicals in and around homes.
2, 1978 - A small group of residents drove to Albany,
NY to present their petition to close the 99th Street School
to the NYS Health Department.
2, 1978 - The New York State Commissioner of Health
declared a State of Emergency at Love Canal and ordered
the 99th Street School be closed and a clean up plan be
undertaken immediately. He also recommended that pregnant
women and children under two who lived in the area immediately
surrounding the Love Canal landfill should move.
7, 1978 - The President of the United States declared
the Love Canal neighborhood an emergency and provided funds
to permanently relocate the 239 families who lived in the
first two rows of homes that encircled the landfill site.
Families living in the remaining 10-block area, including
Lois Gibbs' family, were told they were not at risk.
8, 1979 - A second evacuation order was issued
by the New York State Department of Health. This order recommended
that pregnant women and children under the age of two living
in the 10 block area outside the first evacuation zone of
239 homes should leave. In this case, once the child turned
two years of age or the pregnancy terminated, the family
was to move back into the contaminated neighborhood.
8, 1979 - 300 additional families living within
the 10 block neighborhood were temporarily relocated as
a result of health problems caused by chemical exposures
from the clean up activities.
1980 - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced
the result of blood tests that showed chromosome damage
in Love Canal residents. Residents were told that this meant
they were at increased risk of cancer, reproductive problems
and genetic damage.
1980 - Love Canal residents, frightened by the
news of chromosome damage and angered by the lack of government
action to relocate their families from the serious public
health risks of living near Love Canal, "detained"
(held hostage) two Environmental Protection Agency representatives.
Love Canal families challenged the White House to relocate
all families by Wednesday (May 21st) at noon or "What
we've done here today, will look like a Sesame Street picnic
compared to what we'll do then," said Lois Gibbs, President
of the Love Canal Homeowners Association.
1980 - White House agreed to evacuate all Love
Canal families temporally until permanent relocation funds
could be secured.
1, 1980 - President Carter visited Niagara Falls
to sign the appropriation bill that provided the funding
for permanent relocation for all 900 families who wished
20, 1983 - Lawsuit filed by 1328 Love Canal residents
was settled for just under $20 million dollars with Occidental
Chemical Corporation, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum.
One million dollars were set aside for a Medical Trust Fund.
1988 - New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH)
completed a five year Habitability Study and concluded that
portions of the Love Canal neighborhood were "as habitable
as other areas of Niagara Falls." NYSDOH refused to
declare these areas safe.
15, 1989 - People from across the country joined
former Love Canal residents in Albany, New York at the capitol
to protest the decision to move new families back into the
19, 1990 - Lois Gibbs and others met with E.P.A.
Administrator William Reilly in an attempt to block the
resettlement of the northern portion of Love Canal.
1, 1990 - Community leaders from across the state
and nation came together with one-time residents of Love
Canal in a major rally in Niagara Falls to protest the resettlement.
15, 1990 - Love Canal Revitalization Agency renamed
a portion of Love Canal, Black Creek Village, and announced
that 9 homes were available for sale to the general public.
28, 1990 - The first new family moved into Love
Canal, but further efforts to sell homes moved slowly. Regional
banks were unwilling to accept mortgages for Love Canal
1992 - Federal Housing Administration agreed to
provide mortgage insurance to families who wished to purchase
Love Canal homes.
1992 – the 93rd Street School building was
22, 1994 - Occidental Petroleum agreed to pay $98
million to cover New York State's cleanup costs.
5, 1995 - Occidental Chemical, a subsidiary of
Occidental Petroleum, took over full operations and maintenance
of the chemical waste treatment plant at Love Canal.
22, 1995 - Occidental Petroleum agreed to pay $129
million to cover the federal government's cleanup costs
at Love Canal.
1997 – The New York State Department of Health,
was awarded a $3 million federal grant to conduct a follow-up
health study of the families who lived near Love Canal before
24, 1998 – Congressman John J. LaFalce (D-Tn.
Of Tonawanda) announces that the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) has agreed to request the City of Niagara Falls
that the agency demolish the 63 remaining homes in the portion
of the Love Canal Emergency Declaration Area (EDA) deemed
unsuitable for residential use.
1998 – A playground was built on the southern
section (not habitable) section area of the neighborhood.
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