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Canal Sans Love (Revisited)

Updated on January 20, 2012

Niagara Falls Water Board Discovers Foul Ooze

Second Discovery of Chemicals - January 2011
Second Discovery of Chemicals - January 2011

Pictures From Back In the Day

Love Canal Containment Site
Love Canal Containment Site
Map of the Contaminated Site
Map of the Contaminated Site
Blizzard of 1977
Blizzard of 1977
99th Street School (My old school)
99th Street School (My old school)
93rd Street School
93rd Street School
Community Center
Community Center
Lunch Pit at the Community Center
Lunch Pit at the Community Center
Housing Project View
Housing Project View
Housing Project View - Court 5
Housing Project View - Court 5
Housing Project View
Housing Project View
Read Avenue (A street created as a thoroughfare in and out of the housing project.)
Read Avenue (A street created as a thoroughfare in and out of the housing project.)
This was a funny car wash a few miles away.  Back in the seventies there were many  businesses like this that advertised themselves this way such as the "Whistle Pig" and a gas station located in Lewiston with "Snoopy" lying on the roof.
This was a funny car wash a few miles away. Back in the seventies there were many businesses like this that advertised themselves this way such as the "Whistle Pig" and a gas station located in Lewiston with "Snoopy" lying on the roof.

Here We Go Again!

What a difference a day makes! When I wrote my original hub on the Love Canal tragedy, I felt a little vindicated and thought I could put the whole mess behind me. I was wrong. Recent events have prompted me to pick up the pen once more to give an update.

Here’s the bad news, more chemicals have been found at the site. Back in January of 2011, the City of Niagara Falls Water Board did some repair work on sewer lines near the Love Canal site to prevent storm and ground water from seeping in. During the excavation, a Water Board employee unearthed a foul smelling liquid pooling at the corner of 96th Street and Colvin Boulevard. Upon testing, the substance was determined to be trichlorobenzene, a chemical also found at the Occidental Chemical Love Canal site. Shortly after the discovery, a subsidiary of Occidental Chemicals, Glenn Springs Holdings became involved and took over the excavation proceedings to determine where the chemical came from. Needless to say, Glenn Springs Holdings with the support of the Department of Environmental Conservation, came up with the predictable determination that the existence of the chemical was the result of dumping that had occurred prior to the Love Canal clean-up, and wasn’t a result of leakage from the Love Canal containment site. They concluded that the chemical was at minimum levels and in their report chastened former officials for not discovering the mess back in 1979. All’s well that ends well…NOT! Where is Lois Gibbs when you need her? I’m sure one of the first questions she would’ve asked is, “How do you know the containment facility hasn’t been broken? What mechanisms are you using to make this determination and what measures are in place to fix it?”

Trichlorobenzene is a man-made organic compound used as a solvent. It is a chemical called benzene combined with chlorine. Although this chemical has been around for decades, no conclusive testing to determine the health risks on the humans exposed to it have been done. Studies performed on laboratory mice have proven that short-term exposure can cause damage to the liver, kidneys and adrenal glands. Long-term exposure linking infertility, birth defects and cancer to the chemical has been inconclusive. Strangely enough, the Environmental Protection Agency determined the chemical to not contribute to human carcinogenicity, based on these inconclusive studies conducted in 1990.

Here’s my take. I believe the EPA and the DEC are in bed with these chemical companies and have contrived once again to shut this issue down. This is the exact same gunk that seeped up to ground level thirty years ago. By my modest, unsophisticated estimates I think that once buried, it takes this concoction of death about twenty-five to thirty years to make its way back. The first occurrences of dumping happened in the 1940s and early 1950s. It reared its ugly head again by 1978, after the blizzard of 1977. (Excessive amounts of groundwater caused by the snow melt brought the brew to ground level.) After the second attempt to bury the sludge in 1979, it returned in 2011.

It’s like some horror movie remake, “Attack of the Killer Ooze”! What is really scary is that these chemicals have probably made it into the drinking water supply, since it is ground water that seems to keep bringing it back. I’m sure if you tested a glassful of water sweeping over Niagara Falls and down to the Niagara River, you’ll detect enough of this stuff to kill a horse. I guess I’ll be writing about this again in 2037, if I haven’t croaked from contamination before then. It may seem to you that I am a callous malingerer sitting on my laurels waiting for someone else to stand up and fight. Maybe, but last I checked I live in a world where money, connections and greed supersede decency and regard for life, which keeps me quite pessimistic.

Now for the good news; many of my old friends, extended family and acquaintances have hooked up on Facebook in a group called, “Manor for Life”. You can’t imagine how overjoyed I was to hear from some people that I haven’t spoken to since 1979. There have been a plethora of marriages, births, successes and good times that have occurred since then in spite of this tragedy. Over a hundred of former neighbors have all logged on to take walks down memory lane, share photos, and announce the birth of their grandchildren. There also many libations being poured for the multitude of poor souls who have gone on to Glory. So many of us are dying at middle-age, I can only think that I won’t last either.

One photo in particular, Housing Project - Court 5 (see right), opened a floodgate of memories for me. I felt as if I had time-warped and was standing in that particular spot, as I had done so many times in my past. I suddenly can recall the crazy nicknames like “Skeeboat”, “Earthskin”, “Jittabug”, “Dooney”, and “Tinkle” that had been sitting collecting cobwebs in my mind. I love these people, and it feels so good to be loved back. Griffon Manors may no longer physically exist, but it always will remain in our hearts. It wasn’t the physical place that made it home; it was the beautiful people who used to dwell within it. RIP – Boobie.

Links:

Chemical found linked to Love Canal

DEC says no danger of Love Canal leak

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