Return to Love Canal Gets Green Light
State officials declared Tuesday that it is safe for hundreds of former residents to return to Love Canal, the neighborhood that became notorious for its chemical contamination.
State Health Commissioner Dr. David Axelrod said most areas of Love Canal now contain no more chemicals than other parts of the industrial city. He said, however, that some blocks, where about 10 families lived, were still hazardous.
Many Love Canal residents, who had feared the area would be kept vacant as a symbol of environmental disaster, expressed relief at the announcement.
“We’ve been waiting for this for 10 years,” said Nunzio LoVerdi, who lived in a housing project in Love Canal. “I’ll be the first to move back.”
As part of the state ruling, a task force of local officials will formulate a plan for resettling the community and helping property owners renovate their homes, many of which have fallen into disrepair.
Hooker Chemical Co. used Love Canal, an abandoned waterway project, as a chemical-waste dump in the 1940s. In the 1950s the canal was filled, and housing tracts and an elementary school were built over it. It was not until the early 1970s that people began to notice foul odors and oily puddles oozing into their yards.
In all, 728 homes in a 50-block area were evacuated. The school and 228 houses were torn down.