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Jen Webb Wesly Menard Robert Bookman

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1 Jen Webb Wesly Menard Robert Bookman
Love Canal Disaster Jen Webb Wesly Menard Robert Bookman

2 Learning Objectives Give a brief explanation of the Love Canal Disaster. Pick two (2) toxins that were released from the landfill and list their health effects. What are the difference between our landfills today and the way the landfill was constructed/maintained in the Love Canal Disaster. Explain CERCLA. How long after a landfill is finished can you build on it?

3 It started out as a bid for hydroelectricity…
Back in the 1890’s… William T. Love Very ambitious entrepreneur Niagara Falls, NY Rapidly growing city Harness water’s power! Model City/shipping lane Lots of expectations! Arrow on the left = Niagara Falls Circle/Arrow = Love Canal

4 Project abandoned Only a few houses and streets built and a small section of the canal dug before Love ran out of $$ 1 mile long 50 ft wide, ft deep Became local recreation area Arrow = the canal

5 Sold, sold, & sold again! Sold to the city in 1920’s
City dump site Hooker Chemicals & Plastics in 1942 Granted permission to use the canal Dumped over 21,000 tons of chemical wastes over 10 years. Niagara Falls Board of Education in 1953 Needed land, like BAD.

6 Hooker Chemicals & Plastics
Needed a place to dump their trash. Drained the canal, lined it with clay. Filled it with 55gal barrels Halogenated organics, pesticides, chlorobenzenes and dioxin, etc… Buried ft. Bought the land in 1947 Once full, “covered” with clay and soil and grass grew. Wanted to sell the land.

7 Niagara Falls BOE Rapidly growing district
Sought the land next to the canal Hooker Co. wouldn’t sell the land BOE got dirty (eminent domain) Bought 70+ acres of land for $1 Hooker Corp. made sure to protect themselves in the deed negotiated Built school over the canal and homes on adjacent land


9 Left image: Love canal in 1940
Right image: 99th School District 1977

10 Elementary school, homes, expressway...
Found barrels during excavation at original school site Moved location ~85ft to the North During first year, 25ft area of land crumbled revealing buried barrels Broke thru the clay barrier when constructing residential sewers LaSalle Expressway cut off groundwater from reaching Niagara River Both good and bad

11 The results…Chronology
In 1976, two reporters for the Niagara Gazette, David Pollak and David Russell, tested several sump-pumps near Love Canal and found toxic chemicals in them The matter went quiet for more than a year and was resurrected by reporter Michael Brown, who then investigated potential health effects by carrying forth an informal door-to-door survey in the early summer of 1978, finding birth defects and many anomalies.  The New York State Health Department followed suit and found an abnormal incidence of miscarriages. Government official show little interest in the matter. Love Canal Homeowners' Association was founded

12 Love Canal Homeowners Association

13 The results…Chronology
The lack of public interest in Love Canal made matters worse for the homeowners' association, which now battled two organizations who were spending vast amounts of money to disprove negligence. Following survey of multiple hideous birth defects and reports of cancer, New York State Health Commissioner, Robert Whalen declares a state of emergency exists at the Love Canal and orders closing of 99th Street School and evacuation of pregnant women and children under the age of two. (1978) President Jimmy Carter approves emergency financial aid for the area

14 Jimmy Carter Niagara Falls Mayor Michael O'Laughlin, President Jimmy Carter and New York Governor Hugh Carey 

15 The results…Chronology
November 10, 1978 200 tons of dioxin, a lethal chemical are reported buried in the canal and over 200 chemical compounds are identified as being buried in the canal. Residents fears heighten. Report of this find and refusal to continue evacuation lead to fierce protest

16 The results…Chronology
At first, scientific studies did not conclusively prove that the chemicals were responsible for the residents' illnesses, and scientists were divided on the issue, even though eleven known or suspected carcinogens had been identified, one of the most prevalent being benzene. There was also dioxin (polychlorinated dibenzodioxins) in the water, a very hazardous substance. Dioxin pollution is usually measured in parts per trillion; at Love Canal, water samples showed dioxin levels of 53 parts per billion

17 Toxic chemicals

18 The results…Chronology
After a long hard battle, in April 1979 EPA approves $4 million for remedial work at the Love Canal. City receives $1 million in Federal Disaster Assistance Administration funds EPA announces creation of a special task force to aid in identification and clean-up of toxic waste sites The government relocated more than 800 families and reimbursed them for their homes,

19 Abandoned Love Canal home with EPA monitoring unit
work, FINALLY Abandoned Love Canal home with EPA monitoring unit EPA truck in the foreground cleaning the playground of the 99th street school. School can be seen in background

20 The results…Chronology
Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), or the Superfund Act in 1980, that holds polluters accountable for their damages. Hooker Chemical was found negligent, but not reckless, in its handling of the waste and sale of the land to the Niagara Falls School Board.

21 So, What happened? The dumpsite was not properly covered.
Lots of rain. No leachate pool Leachate seep through the soil into people’s yard, groundwater, basements First chemical seepage into basement reported in Evacuation in YEARS LATER????

22 You don’t want to live there!

23 So, What happened? Despite the disclaimer by Hooker Chemical (not very surprising name), the 99th St. School was built Upon discovery of the waste during excavation, the site was moved ONLY 80ft North 1955, school completed, playground collapsed, exposing chemicals. Mixed with rainwater, puddle created. Children play in “puddle”. 

24 So, What happened? City tries to build underground sewage system for rainwater. Construction broke the clay cover More waste chemical seep Resident unaware of canal history. Not included in contract. Therefore, no monitoring and further evaluation Clay crack LaSalle Expressway construction cut off groundwater from reaching Niagara River. Dump site flooded Puddle of chemical emerge in yard Everything goes amiss from there

25 Why It happened? Signs were, for the most part, ignored.
Low income, lower class families. Government ignored their plea Of course, disregard to human life and future generation Trees were dying, leaves turning black Swimming pool floating away Puddles of chemicals found in people’s yard. They did little about it The choking smell It wasn’t until 20yrs after the first signs that the town was evacuated

26 Barrels rising out of the clay

27 So, what are the chemicals found
Over 80 compounds in total we isolated, among them Compound Acute Effects Chronic Effects benzene Narcosis Skin irritant Acute leukemia Aplastic anemia Pancytopenia Chronic lymphatic leukemia Lymphomas (probable) toluene Narcosis (more powerful than benzene) Anemia (possible) Leukopenia (possible) benzoic acid Skin irritant lindane Convulsions High white cell counts trichloroethylene Central nervous depression Skin irritant Liver damage Paralysis of fingers Respiratory and cardiac arrest Visual defects Deafness dibromoethane benzaldehydes Allergen methylene chloride Anesthesia (increased carboxy hemoglobin) Respiratory distress Death carbon tetrachloride Narcosis Hepatitis Renal damage Liver tumors (possible) chloroform Central nervous narcosis Skin irritant Respiratory irritant Gastrointestinal symptoms

28 Impact of the Chemicals
Table II Maternal Age and Number of Miscarriages (Observed and Expected*) Among Residents of the Love Canal TABLE IV Documented Congenital Malformations Among Children From the Love Canal Impact of the Chemicals Even though 17 miscarriages don’t seem too much, remember this is a small community. That’s 22% miscarriages in a very short time. Maternal Age Number of  Pregnancies Number of Miscarriages Observed <20 2 20-24 13 25-29 28 3 30-34 19 6 35-39 15 8 All Ages 77 17 Type of Malformation Sex Date of Birth Medication, Radiation during pregnancy Cleft palate, deformed ears and teeth, hearing defect, mental retardation, heart defect F 11/68 No Abnormalities of renal pelvis and reflux ureters 4/75 Mental retardation (autistic) 1/66 Congenital deafness M 2/66 Club foot 1/58 Some of the major birth defects documented at Love Canal

29 AFTERMATH EPA addressed the Site in 6 stages:
Landfill Containment w/ leachate collection, treatment, and disposal Excavation & Interim storage of the sewer & creek sediments Final treatment and disposal of the sewer and creek sediments and other Love Canal waste Remediation of the 93rd Street School soils EDA home maintenance and technical assistance by the Love Canal Area Revitalization Agency (LCARA) Buyout of homes and other properties in the EDA by LCARA

30 Dioxins Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDDs), or simply dioxins, are a group of polyhalogenated compounds which are significant because they act as environmental pollutants.  They are known mutagens, and suspected human carcinogens

31 INITIAL ACTIONS 1978 System installed to collect leachate from the site Landfill area was covered and fenced Leachate treatment plant was constructed 1981 EPA conducted environmental studies

32 LANDFILL CONTAINMENT 1982 Barrier drain and a leachate collection system constructed by EPA The temporary clay cap was covered with synthetic material to prevent rainwater from entering landfill Houses adjacent to landfill and school were demolished

33 LANDFILL CONTAINMENT 1985 NYSDEC installed 40 acre cap on landfill
Improvements made on the leachate collection and treatment system New leachate treatment facility constructed

34 SEWERS & CREEKS Sewers and the Black Creek culverts were hydraulically cleaned Removal and dispersal of contaminated sediments from Black Creek and Bergholtz Creek (Dredging) 14,000 cubic yards of sediments removed Sewers inspected for defects that could allow contaminants to migrate 68,200 linear feet of storm and sanitary sewers were cleaned

1987 – EPA addressed the destruction and disposal of the dioxin-contaminated soil On-site facility to dewater and contain sediments Separate facility to treat the dewatered contaminants and leachate treatment facility residuals by high-temperature thermal destruction All contaminated soil was removed from 93rd Street School property; building was demolished

36 HOME MAINTENANCE Federal government and State of New York purchased affected properties in the EDA EPA provided funds for the rehabilitation of the site Since rehabilitation program began: Approximately 260 homes sold Senior citizen housing development

37 CLEANUP PROGRESS 1988 EPA issued Love Canal EDA Habitability Study
Study conclusions: Areas 1-3 of the EDA, not suitable for habitation without remediation, but may be used for commercial and/or industrial purposes Areas 4-7 of the EDA may be used for residential purposes

38 CLEANUP PROGRESS Quantities of Love Canal waste materials (2008)
Total sewer and creek sediment wastes 38,900 cubic yards at 1.6 tons/cubic yard = 62,240 tons Other debris and waste 21,167 pounds Spent Carbon Filter Wastes 30,080 pounds

39 CLEANUP PROGRESS Numerous Cleanup Activities Landfill containment
Lechate collection and treatment Removal and disposition of contaminated sewer and creek sediments Site is deemed safe for surrounding residents and the environment

40 CLEANUP PROGRESS Revitalization
New homeowners have repopulated areas of the site deemed habitable 260+ formerly-abandoned homes have been rehabilitated and sold to new residents September 2008 5-year review report issued by EPA 2004 Love Canal removed from National Priorities list

Plan for eventual site use before landfill is constructed and operated Critical factors to plan for: Settlement Approx. 90% occurs in first 5 years May continue for 25 or more years at a slower rate Foundation characteristics Control of leachate and gas Vegetation Final grade

Pre-planning Prepare site drainage plan Identify final site topographic plan 3 months before closure Schedule closing date Notify regulatory agencies and site users Closure Place cover over exposed waste Post signs indicating site closure and alt. disposal sites

43 3 months after closure Complete needed drainage control features
Complete gas collection or venting system, leachate containment facilities, and gas or groundwater monitoring devices Place earth cover over landfill Establish vegetative cover

44 BUILDING ON LANDFILL Major design considerations:
Consolidation-time-settlement relationships Load-bearing capacity Placement of sewer, water, electric, and gas utilities Gas-venting techniques


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