chapter  9
7 Pages

Love Canal

WithRae Tyson

The author of this chapter began his journalism career in 1979, covering environmental issues for the Niagara Falls Gazette. His first big story was the environmental disaster known as Love Canal, in which private homes and a school had been built on land adjacent to an old canal that had been filled with 22,000 tons of toxic waste. In 1976, residents had complained about chemical odors in their homes and yards and the Gazette had picked up the story. Not long after, the Buffalo Evening News and Buffalo Courier Express also began to cover the situation. In a 1980 series on Love Canal, the author, together with a writer for Gannett News Service, reported that much of the chemical waste had been dumped directly into the canal. This investigative effort won an Associated Press award in 1981. The author writes, “For all journalists covering Love Canal, the obstacles were significant. When Love Canal was first reported by the Gazette in 1976, there was no precedent, no other comparison in the United States involving public exposure to buried chemical wastes. The only related public warning had come in 1962 when Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, which warned of health risks associated with pesticides … The Love Canal disaster also prompted Congress to create ‘Superfund’ – an industry funded effort to find and clean up other problem dumpsites nationwide.”