EPA Removes N.Y.’s Love Canal from Superfund List

October 12, 2004

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its decision to remove the Love Canal site in Niagara County, New York from the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL).

All cleanup work at the site has been completed, and follow up monitoring conducted over the past 15 years and continuing today confirms that the cleanup goals have been reached, the EPA said. Through a series of plans, EPA, together with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, contained and secured the wastes already disposed of in the canal so that they are no longer leaking into surrounding soils and groundwater and also revitalized properties in the neighborhood surrounding the canal.

“Love Canal taught us that we needed a mechanism to address abandoned hazardous waste sites, especially those that posed a threat to people’s health,” said Jane M. Kenny, EPA’s regional administrator. “Decades later, Love Canal has become a symbol of our success under Superfund. It is once again a thriving community.”

The 70-acre Love Canal site encompasses a hazardous waste landfill where chemical waste products were disposed of from 1942-1952. In 1953, the original 16-acre hazardous waste landfill was covered, and a school and more than 200 homes were built nearby. Residents reported odors and residues as early as the 1960s; studies in the 1970s showed that numerous toxic chemicals were migrating from the landfill and contaminating nearby waterways.

In 1978, Governor Hugh Carey ordered the original purchase of resident’s homes surrounding the canal. In 1978 and 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared two separate environmental emergencies and, as a result, approximately 950 families were evacuated from a 10-block area surrounding the canal. The emergency declaration area included neighborhoods adjacent to the site covering 350 acres.

In 1980, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCA), also known as Superfund, which addresses abandoned hazardous waste sites, was passed largely due to the problems at Love Canal.

Today, 40 acres are covered by a synthetic liner and clay cap and surrounded by a barrier drainage system. Contamination from the site is also controlled by a leachate collection and treatment facility. More than 200 formerly boarded-up homes nearby have been renovated and sold to new owners, and 10 newly-constructed apartment buildings. The area east of the canal has also been sold for light industrial and commercial redevelopment.

The Love Canal site will continue to be monitored and remain eligible for cleanup work in the unlikely event that a change in site conditions should warrant such an action.

The deletion of Love Canal makes a total of three sites in Niagara County that have been deleted from the NPL. Last month the Niagara County Refuse site and the 102nd Street Landfill were removed from the list.

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