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New Lawsuits Allege Recontamination of Love Canal Neighborhood

Aug 28, 2013

Two cases that allege recontamination of the infamous Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York, have been sent back to state court by Western District Judge John Curtin.

In two rulings on Thursday, Judge Curtin said the claims did not arise under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and do not belong in federal court, the New York Law Journal reports.

The Love Canal neighborhood was evacuated and cleaned up in the 1970s, but residents claim the remediation effort was not entirely successful and they further allege that a 2011 excavation of an old sewer pipe resulted in a new discharge of hazardous chemicals.

Nearly 25 years after the state and federal governments declared that the Love Canal neighborhood was a safe place for people to live, residents report a variety of health problems, including asthma, severe headaches, and skin rashes. One family’s baby boy was born with birth defects. Other residents say their pets have developed lumps, infections and cancers, according to the Buffalo News.

In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2004 removed Love Canal from its national list of Superfund waste sites, declaring that “all cleanup work at the site has been completed” and calling the neighborhood “a thriving community.” During the cleanup, 21,800 tons of toxic waste were buried and sealed in a landfill, but the lawsuit claims that these materials are leaking and recontaminating the neighborhood. The lawsuit also claims that the cleanup of the 2011 sewer contamination was mismanaged; workers attempted to flush the chemicals into sewers and storm drains, “dispersing the contaminants even further onto and into the property and homes” of nearby residents, the lawsuit asserts, according to the Buffalo News. The Buffalo News reports that high concentrations of toxic substances were found at the homes of the three lawsuit plaintiffs.

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