Turning Anger Into Action [The Story of Love Canal Pt.3]

Title

Turning Anger Into Action [The Story of Love Canal Pt.3]

Description

These selected reports beginning in 1978 provide insight into how Love Canal homeowners were able to channel their fears and anger into action in terms of personal injury lawsuits against the Hooker Chemical Corporation and pressure applied to their local, state and federal government representatives.

Beginning in the summer of 1978, when blood tests were first administered and only a selected number of households were ordered to evacuate their contaminated homes, Lois Gibbs and her Love Canal Homeowners Association demanded that arrangements be made to move out more families for permanent relocation.

After strong lobbying efforts, president Jimmy Carter took initial action in approving enough funds for New York State to buy 236 Love Canal homes. Families were relocated at a cost of $10 million dollars.

Three months later it was revealed that 200 tons of dioxin, one of the most lethal chemicals produced by humans, were buried in the canal. Residents said they witnessed the military also using the canal as a dumpsite.

In May 1980 the Environmental Protection Agency determined that some residents suffered from chromosome damage. Four days later President Carter declared Love Canal a national emergency. Eventually another 710 Love Canal families were relocated.

Love Canal families had originally sought $15 billion dollars in damages from Hooker Chemical’s parent company Occidental Chemical Corporation. In 1983, about 1,330 families got a settlement of $20 million dollars. In addition, a one million dollar medical trust fund was created.

In 1995, Occidental Chemical Corporation and Occidental Petroleum agreed to pay the federal government $129 million dollars as reimbursement for clean-up costs of the Love Canal landfill.

Date

1970-1980

Source

Rich Newberg Reports Collection

Publisher

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (publisher of digital)

Rights

Copyright held by WIVB-TV. Access to this digital version provided by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. Videos or images in this collection are not to be used for any commercial purposes. Users of this website are free to utilize material from this collection for non-commercial and educational purposes.

Type

Moving Image

Format

Video/mp3

Language

Identifier

Rich Newberg Reports Collection

Transcription

Under any other circumstances could be fun. Moving when you're forced to is painful.

I love my house and this is tearing me up. I'm leaving this here on the street. Line Oh, somehow, some way. Maybe they'll just move her home. There's so many people here they feel like we do we don't know just leave her here.

The families who have been forced to evacuate are being asked to throw away perishable food. The CO owners of the pine Plaza superduper are donating $1,000 to help replace some of those items.

We're concentrating mainly on milk and cheese and bread and butter items that may have been contaminated. And we're giving $30 gift certificates to all those that are moving to the first 39 that are being relocated.

The names of families with pregnant women and young children living outside the borders of the Love Canal have also been taken. Their situations will be reviewed later for a possible evacuation help. This has created resentment among some families living with a loved canal in their backyards, but whose children are older.

I don't want to be here. I don't want to breathe all that air. I'm sick, and I don't think it's fair. I've got it in my backyard. What about my three children?

Anyone and everyone however, is eligible for blood testing the lines were long today, tests are looking for possible leukemias, anemias and liver disorders. In the meantime, workmen were also busy today putting up a snow fence around the contaminated 99th Street School. A chain link fence will be installed later. A chain link fence will also be installed here around the Love Canal area. These warning signs apparently haven't been doing much good as evidenced by numerous footprints seen across the field on the other side of this fence last week. And that was way in advance of the tour over the weekend by state and federal officials here are we Bryce news for Niagara Falls

We like the home so well. So we decided we're going to take it with us.

The groans and squeaks today we're coming from this house workman methodically What about their task of jacking it up and pulling it apart? At its seams? Are you convinced it's safe for your children?

Yes, yes. We've had three tests taken on it as far as you know being contaminated. And it is clean. There's no contamination at all as far as the chemicals go.

It represents a lot of hard work money and there's a lot of fond memories here and we didn't want to get out of Love Canal. We've got to settle for something less and financially we had to do it.

The highest earners are one of several 100 families whose houses sat adjacent to the canal. The state bought it for $33,000 They bought it back for salvage at $2,500. The two halves will be made whole again blocks away in an area considered safe. Tom Eisner took one final look today at the chemicals which had seeped into his basement.

For days more crew had their job cut out for them tedious work. Each move was carefully calculated and then carried out. The result? Mission accomplished.

News Four Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls and school officials are quietly gathering information to prepare for expected lawsuits and news for is learned that city manager Donald O'Hara has written a letter to state officials expressing his concern about the lack of speed in getting on with the cleanup. Another person who is concerned is Maria Pozniak, who lives just 100 yards outside the designated danger area. Her eight year old asthmatic daughter has been taken from the area to stay in a hotel with her mother and her condition once away from the canal area is improved, Mrs. Pozniak says but the cost of living away from their home is being borne by the positive acts and attempts to get help from the state and but nothing but red tape. And still today, homeowners association president Lois Gibbs was talking about her displeasure with a lack of anything new and last night's meeting.

I think it was basically just a rehash again, they didn't even go into the safety plan to any extent which I thought they were going to do. But we still stand the same. I don't think they'll start. I know they won't start to work on October because of if they avoid us as far as letting us okay the plans then we have a lawyer who will back us up and put an injunction on the work

Well, you might approve the plan that would allow it to start October 10?

Not until we get a lot of answers to a lot of questions that they've been avoiding giving us like the contents of the canal, the perimeters of the canal.

The governor has said that your group will have the right to veto if you do not approve the safety plan that is finally presented.

That's right. He's assured us of that twice. And we're holding him to it.

Mr. Urban has severe malformation in his leg and he has severe eye problems with one eye and we believe this is a result of contamination by chemicals.

How many people do you represent?

I really don't want to get into the number of people I represent there-- I'm more than Mr. Irvin the purpose of selecting Mr. Irvin was just to have one person go through a multitude of preliminary hearings.

Do all your clients, however, allegedly basically the same thing, some type of physical ailment?

That's right not that they are all the same. There are different physical injuries that we've claimed that are related to it, but they're not all the same by any stretch of the imagination. There are women that have had miscarriages or people with renal problems. They're varied.

I think that my charge now should go right to the country and this by this I mean, that the United States Army knew what was in that canal and still they let them children go to that school. They let citizens build homes over here. And now that we have a problem? That we do have acts and I think that we should have immediately I think the people of the City of Niagara Falls to support the situation in a crisis of toxic chemicals around a 93rd street and work our way right up town. That's how I feel about it.

We nervous wrecks we had and I have nightmares. We are afraidto go back to our homes. We don't know what's going to happen to us. The kids are blaming us Why are you keeping us here in this contaminated hell? We want to move out and we keep saying it will be soon just have patience. And something's going to happen pretty soon. And they're angry and mad and they they just can't take it no more.

The cruel and inhumane treatment of the Love Canal residents have to be addressed now by a massive outpouring of sympathy for the people there and expressions to their legislators and in particular to Governor Hugh Carey. We've invited Hugh Carey to be with us to join the legislators and the families to go to the tour. Of the Love Canal with Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden. It's important day we expect the community to rally in support of the families there.

On October 4 1979, actress and activist Jane Fonda and husband Tom hate, hate a visit to the Love Canal neighbor to lend their support.

This is a tragedy of such immense human proportions that it's very difficult to talk we've had a short bus ride while we have an opportunity to talk to some of the people in some detail about what they've gone through. The children they've lost the miscarriages, the husbands, they lost, how their lives have been torn off. It's unbelievable. That this happens in America today.

But I think it'll help us a lot. When I go to Washington tomorrow. I'm going to see those same people I'm going to see EPA and other federal people. And I'll say here's another one of your agency who has an agreement now let's do something get up and move these people immediately. Don't wait for the state to do it. It's up to you to do it now.

From Western New York's first news station here News Four's update.

Good evening. I'm Rich Newberg Lois Gibbs has called for a boycott of the Federal Health Studies at the Love Canal. The boycott was the first of several issues I discussed tonight with the president of the Love Canal Homeowners Association.

We are calling for a boycott of the EPA studies and we're calling for a boycott at the EPA meetings. The reason we're asking this is because they have not given us their design or protocols. We don't know they're gonna be done might they plan on eliminating people because of economic background likely cell development? Or because they have health problems like sugar diabetes, we feel everybody should be tested who want to be

The burning of the first family in effigy. When you were in Washington? What do you think this accomplished?

I think it explained to the nation the plight of the people and how they felt about the White House. They've ignored us and Stonewall us and they've turned a deaf ear to Love Canal. And this is how not only Love Canal people feel but Western New York and across the nation. We've had many people respond the same way.

Had you had a face to face confrontation with the President? What do you think this might have accomplished?

I think he would have regained some confidence in government that Love Canal people have lost and if nothing else, I could give him the real story of Love Canal the personal story from the families.

Hooker says a review of its records finds no evidence of US military dumping. How do you react to this finding?

I don't understand. I don't understand why Hooker would say that. If nothing else, they would say they did dumb so they could share in the cost. Many residents have verified have seen this happen back in the 40s in the 50s. And I just plain don't understand it.

The testifying of Love Canal residents before Senator Kennedy's committee. What do you think this accomplished?

Well, it brought it to national attention. Barbara Quimby and Phyllis were great and they they got across the point that we have mentally retired children we have broken chromosomes and nobody is doing anything. As a result of this. We have received sympathy, telegrams and things nationwide and everybody's more aware now than they were before.

Good afternoon. I'm Gary Gunter. Governor Carey flew into Buffalo late this morning and we're fortunate to have him right here with us live. Here's the governor with news four's Rich Newberg, Rich?

Governor, thank you for joining us this morning but the venue. There was a reported impasse and they love canal loan negotiations. The state has rejected the $15 million loan concept. Now there's an impasse what is going to happen in Love Canal?

We'll work it out. First of all, state rejection is based upon the fact that the way they gave us the money we'd have to go to a referendum, a constitutional amendment to get into the people. There is an amendment which was passed by the Senate in the house, the Javits Moynihan amendment, which shows the appropriate way to get the money to the Love Canal families so we can get permanent relocation. I'll be meeting with White House people tomorrow. I'll bring this up and we'll break the impasse.

Federal government is very concerned about the precedent setting Love Canal situation, what makes you think they're going to bend and give us for example, $50 million outright,

They're not going to give us 15 million outright, they're gonna make credit available so we can help the families get the mortgage they need for permanent resettlement. It's no no big deal by the federal government. They're simply acknowledging some of the responsibility they have, because they contributed heavily to the trauma at Love Canal.

Can we turn for a moment to the national scene? Yes, sir. Are you going to actively campaign for Jimmy Carter?

I'm going to campaign for every Democrat across New York state or anywhere else that can be helpful, but I can always campaign better if I feel solidly about the issues, and I'm trying to get the message through to the White House, you can't take New York for granted.

Air Force One taxied in about 10:30 This morning, under flattening Buffalo area skies. Security was extremely tight with Secret Service agents and local police keeping a close watch on the airport crowd. The President was all smiles as he greeted the governor, Senator Patrick Moynihan and Erie County Democratic Chairman Joseph Clangor. The President's awareness of Buffalo's problems was sharpened during the blizzard of 1977 when the federal government came to the aid of a snowed in city. Today when the President set foot on the podium. It began to rain. But the Carter smile was against sparkling when Cheektowaga supervisor Kenneth Myers presented him with the town flag. The only disruption occurred when Governor Kerry became distracted by a group of dissatisfied Love Canal residents while he was introducing the president.

Please lower those signs a president has seen them so the others behind you can see the President's gotten your message. He's seen them. We'll respond to you and please lower the side like button neighbors now so the people behind you can see.

The signs and the President was warmly received. He in turn acknowledged problems in the Love Canal District and said Governor Kerry was doing a better job than he was of meeting the needs of Canal residents.

And I have to tell you, that he's done a lot more at the state level than I and my people have done at the federal level and I will express my thanks to him for dealing with your problem.

Reacting to White House refusal to buy their homes angry residents have chemically polluted Love Canal dragged out dummies in the street and burned the Carter family in effigy. Niagara Falls police made no effort to stop the demonstration.

They were shouting for FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Team dispatched to Niagara Falls to assist residents in temporary relocation. Finally, a spokesman for FEMA emerged from headquarters to speak with the group.

They're not offering to buy your homes. They're not offering to reimburse the people whose homes were destroyed by Mount Helens, they are offering you the same thing.

How can you stand there and say these things to us when you're right in the city and see what's going on? What EPA they're just what they've given us about chromosome damage?

Love Canal residents are threatening to boycott medical tests the government may need in its lawsuit against Hooker Chemical. The government hopes to recover the millions it will spend in temporary relocation costs. Residents hope and medical boycott will pressure the government into buying their homes if not, they say the demonstrations will continue. Rich Newberg, News Four update

This church turned into a pressure cooker, more steam being led out by angry homeowners and more cries for answers. The church was packed with Love Canal residents EPA Regional Chief Jim Marshall was there to listen as homeowners expressed two years of frustration and immediate demands for a settlement on their homes.

I'm 65 years old, almost. I'm sick and tired of being a yo yo pulled this way. All the other way. Why don't you get a hold where you're pulling me down the road. All I want, all I want I don't want to be relocated. All I want is my 28 five and give it to me tonight. And I'll never look back on Love Canal now again.

1500 supportive telegrams have reportedly poured into President Carter's office from unions and environmental groups across the country. But Lois Gibbs told the group only they could keep the momentum going for permanent relocation and government purchase of their homes.

We have to keep the pressure on President Carter. We have to create more pressure than the Cubans coming in on Florida. Then the fall people in order to do that we're gonna have such telegrams, scream and holler and be heard.

It could be two or three days before the government fully coordinates a relocation program. Meanwhile, the search for hotel and motel rooms gets tougher.

We want out!

The tour guide was sent from the state attorney general's office in New York, the sightseers viewing house after boarded up house inside the Love Canal included State Supreme Court judges as well as lawyers for former Love Canal homeowners and for Hooker chemical company.

On your right, you're gonna see the 99th Street School

Slowly they passed landmarks of a deserted community whose former residents are now locked in court battles with hooker over claims of personal injury. This state now owns these homes and plans on tearing down 237 of them. The tour was designed to give the legal opponents judges one last close up look.

If you wish to go into the homes we'll show you how to don the protective equipment that you would need so

No one was permitted to enter the houses until they were fully protected from chemical exposure boots, gowns, gloves and even a respirator if you want to total protection then there was this observation from attorney Richard Lepus, who represents the former homeowners

Of course it's interesting that we're all donning the suits and our clients have lived in these homes for years without any of these suits on including the children.

Though we were all shielded from any chemical contamination. There was no protection from the eerie feelings of emptiness and desolation that the absence of life here creates. The attorneys representing the homeowners want the houses demolished mostly for health reasons. One Hooker attorney said the company takes no position on the question of demolition for the people who moved out of here and for the country as a whole the questions raised by the Love Canal disaster will continue to be raised long after the last house is demolished. Rich, Newberg News Four Niagara Falls.

May 16th 1980 Rare chromosomal damage was found in a sampling of Love Canal residents.

We found two particular characteristics in this study, which are ominous.

I just want to get my kids away from your weapon to factories on the first year or maybe they can have a decent life. I don't know. My son's probably already permanently damaged.

That was the straw that broke the camel's back.

The fact that we now know that the chemicals are in the home that they got into the people and caused chromosome damage in the people indicates that the miscarriages and the birth defects and cancer is a result of living in this neighborhood.

We have got abnormalities in our chromosomes and we've known it all along that on our street alone there has been already eight cases of cancer on the 15th House street

May 19 1982. EPA officials are held hostage for six hours.

If we do not have a disaster declaration, Wednesday by noon then what they have seen here today is just a Sesame Street picnic in comparison..

Two days later, President Jimmy Carter declared the Love Canal neighborhood a national emergency and agreed to evacuate all Love Canal families. And on October 1 1980 President Carter came to Niagara Falls to announce that all the Love Canal families who wish to leave their homes would be provided the money to permanently relocate.

There's really no way to make adequate restitution for that kind of suffering. But this agreement will at least give the families of the area some 750 of them the financial freedom to pack up and leave if they choose to do so.

The President singled out the woman he called the grassroots leader of the Love Canal residents, Lois Gibbs for special recognition

Without her impassioned advocacy and dedication. There might have never been a love canal emergency declaration and that's a great one might never have come to pass. There must never be in our country another Love Canal.

I love you now, Mr. President. What can I say? New York loves you today.

Lois Gibbs and her two children have moved to the nation's capitol, where Mrs. Gibbs has begun to organize a national citizens clearinghouse for hazardous waste problems. She already has enough mail to keep her busy for the next couple of years.

What I have here is 1000s of people who have written us from 13 Other countries and these people want information and this is what I'm going to provide what is chloroform me what does it do to humans? What is the safe level? How do I get the state to test and what should I test for and at what level? How do I do a house survey? I want to provide all this information to these individuals to help them evaluate the problems and eventually resolve.

Now a single parent, Mrs. Gibbs will attempt to take care of her two children Michael, eight, and Missy, five, while spending the rest of her time asking private foundations for grant money. She says she'll be making a minimum wage for a while but he's willing to make the sacrifice for the cause She believes in.

There are family suffering financially, psychologically and health wise, tapping across the country to people in the United States. Don't band together now, don't identify their problems and clean them up. Then God only knows what generations has to come.

Mrs. Gibbs earned the reputation as a fighter for victims of chemical contamination. She is credited for having President Carter declare the Love Canal area of Niagara Falls a national emergency, which led to the permanent relocation of hundreds of Love Canal families. She is convinced her struggle will determine the kind of life her children and her children's children will lead.

I want my children you know, I want them to grow up in a place where they can plant their gardens, eat the food and have normal children and not be concerned. It's not going to happen unless we do this

Rich Newberg News Four, Washington.

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