Real Media Video, 0:19min

This excerpt is from Lynn Corcoran's documentary IN OUR OWN BACKYARD available from Bullfrog Films, Oley, PA 19547

History: Chronology - Key Dates and Events at Love Canal

Prepared by the Center for Health, Environment and
, in 1997 with updates in 1998 and 2002.

April, 1978 - Niagara Gazette Newspaper
reporter Michael Brown wrote a series on
hazardous waste problems in Niagara Falls,
NY including the Love Canal dumpsite.

April, 1978 - Residents of area, concerned
about health risks from Love Canal after
reading Brown's articles, called local and
state health authorities for answers.

April 25, 1978 - New York State Health
Commissioner, confirmed that a public health
hazard existed in the Love Canal community.
Commissioner ordered the Niagara County
Health Department to remove exposed chemicals from the site and install a fence around the area.

April, 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.

May 19, 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.

August 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.

August 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.

August 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.

February 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.

September 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.

May 17, 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.

May 19, 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.

May 21, 1980 - White House agreed to evacuate all Love Canal families temporally until permanent relocation funds could be secured.

October 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 to leave.

December 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.

September 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.

September 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 Canal.

January 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.

April 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.

August 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.

November 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 homes.

April, 1992 - Federal Housing Administration agreed to provide mortgage insurance to families who wished to purchase Love Canal homes.

September, 1992 – the 93rd Street School building was demolished.

June 22, 1994 - Occidental Petroleum agreed to pay $98 million to cover New York State's cleanup costs.

January 5, 1995 - Occidental Chemical, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, took over full operations and maintenance of the chemical waste treatment plant at Love Canal.

December 22, 1995 - Occidental Petroleum agreed to pay $129 million to cover the federal government's cleanup costs at Love Canal.

August, 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 1979.

July 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.

August, 1998 – A playground was built on the southern section (not habitable) section area of the neighborhood.

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