Niagara Falls, New York

Love Canal Containment Zone

Toxic waste disaster that founded the Superfund program


Love Canal is the neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York, that became the subject of national and international attention, eventual environmental notoriety, and controversy following the discovery of 21,000 tons of toxic waste (caustics, alkalines, fatty acids, and chlorinated hydrocarbons from the manufacturing of dyes, perfumes, solvents for rubber and synthetic resins) that had been buried beneath the neighborhood by Hooker Chemical.

The problem was identified only after children in the area were being born with massive birth defects; pets were losing their fur; toxic waste was seeping up into basements, swimming pools, and children's sandboxes. Today the site, itself, is like many superfund/brownfield sites: A large grassy field surrounded by a barbed-wire fence.

Most of the houses in this neighborhood were demolished, although a few residents chose to stay (and these few still live there, against better judgment). The neighborhood is approximately a square mile of empty driveways, streetlights, fire hydrants, and foundations. Block after block is overgrown with thirty years' worth of vegetation, and ironically, wildlife has returned to thrive on the site of one of the worst environmental catastrophes in American history. It's an eerie neighborhood, and a picture of what our cities would look like if people left entirely.

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    Love Canal, Niagara Falls, New York, 14304, United States
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Amount of Toxic Waste dumped into the town of Love Canal
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Love Canal covers 36 square blocks in the far southeastern corner of the city, along 99th Street and Read Avenue.