A federal district court judge ruled that Occidental Chemical Corp. can be held liable for punitive damages at Love Canal, as well as for compensation for cleaning up the toxic chemical dump.
The ruling, released Monday, sets the stage for additional trials on whether other parties must share Occidental's liability and on how much the company will pay in damages, a spokeswoman for state Atty. Gen. Robert Abrams said.
Judge John Curtin ruled that Occidental must take liability even though it sold the property to the Niagara Falls school board in 1953 with a warning that the land had been used as a dump.
The board's purchase price was only $1. "The company palmed off what it knew to be an enormous toxic waste site for $1. Today's decision puts the liability back on Occidental's shoulders, exactly where it belongs," Abrams said.
Occidental is the successor to Hooker Electrochemical Co., which dumped wastes into the abandoned water ditch from 1942 to 1953. Hundreds of people were evacuated after the wastes began bubbling up more than a decade ago.