...and the Gods wept

The Love Canal surely ranks high on any intelligent person's list of human foul-ups. The events leading up to this environmental disaster are as complex as can be imagined, and the endgame leaves most persons scratching their collective heads and wondering what the true story really is. It is likely that many of the important decisions were made under circumstances that we will never be made party to, and that the actual "villains" will never be clearly defined.

Federal, state, and local agencies are meeting to determine what happened, what can be done to protect the citizens and property of the area, and how to restore the environment to a habitable state. After selecting roles, your task will be to research your portion of this problem, and be prepared to participate in the "public meeting" in several days. Information is available from many sources, including the library, Internet, books, and magazines.

Participants at the meeting include:

Historical: Who was Love and why does he have a canal? Give us a general overview of the situation: what happened, when did it happen, who did it, and why did they do it?

Concerned citizens and residents of the area: "Houston, we have a problem..."

Medical representatives: There seems to be something funny going on in the Love Canal area. Report and describe the contamination problems. Also, please relate your medical findings. Who got sick and/or weird? How sick? Will they get well? How weird? Will they get normal? And possibly the most important question: Will they pass this on to their kids?

Hooker Chemical Corporation: Or is it Occidental Petroleum? In either case, what did you do: before, during, and after? Are you the bad guys, or is there enough blame to go around?

Local government agencies: This includes all public agencies involved with this mess, including the governor, the mayor, the government's lawyers, public relations firms, and others. You're in charge, and the ultimate decisions (and responsibilities) are yours.

City Engineer and Building Departments: You are the voice of reality concerning what can and cannot be done, as well as the source of building permits for public and private construction projects. It is your "stamp of approval" which is required for ANY development in the area.

Niagara Falls School Board: You wanted it. Well, now you've got it. Describe and defend your decision to use the Love Canal area for public elementary school facilities.

Environmental Protection Agency: Great, your basic Federal bureaucrats demanding a fix (at any cost). Remember the helpful EPA representative in Ghostbusters? By the way: does anyone remember just what incident prompted the creation of the EPA in the first place?

Citizens in favor of intelligent waste disposal: Toxic waste is produced by countless industries. It has to go somewhere, and there are several options: leave it lying about on the surface (and hope for the best), shoot it to the sun (and hope the rocket doesn't crash), dump it in the ocean (the Soviet approach), or put it in the ground (just don't put it near MY house).

This activity is worth 50 points towards your quarter grade. You will be graded as follows: Each person (this means you) will be required to turn in a report describing what information your group learned. You will also be graded on the effort you put into thinking through your aspect of this problem, the quality of your research, and the enthusiasm with which you conduct your research and join into the "public meeting." Your two (2) page typed report is due at the end of the class discussion. Good luck.


Index of related Internet sites:

1) ...and the Gods wept

2) An historical background of the Love Canal disaster

3) Love Canal, an American tragedy

4) The Love Canal

5) Love Canal is everywhere: the pervasive threat of Dioxin

6) Toxic Niagara: 20 years later

7) Toxic dumping in the United States and the former Soviet Union, with case studies of Love Canal and Moscow

8) Hooker Chemical / Love Canal chemical dump site

9) How industry survived Love Canal

10) Superfund: what is it?

11) EPA National Priorities List: Love Canal Site

12) Governor Pataki announces EPA funding for health study related to Love Canal (press release 12/21/95)

13) The Love Canal Disaster Page


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