Love canal environmental disaster Essay

This essay has a total of 1697 words and 9 pages.

Love canal environmental disaster



Love Canal

Love’s Model City

The Model City
(tune of Yankee Doodle)

Everybody’s come to town, They’r building now a great big ditch,
Those left we all do pity, Through dirt and rock so gritty,
For we’ll have a jolly time, They say ‘twill make all very rich
At Love’s new Motel City Who live in Model City

This tale I tell is no less true, Our boys are bright and well to do,
Though in a silly ditty, Our girls are smart and pretty,
They give free sites and power too, They can not help it nor could you,
In Love’s new Model City If you lived in Model City

Then come and join our earnest band,
All who are wise and witty,
Here’s out heart and here’s our hand,
To build the Model city.


Water is a necessity for life. Throughout the growth of civilization, communities sprang
up near the edge of waterways. Running rivers and standing lakes provided clean drinking
water, food and energy for people. It was running water that set the gears working in the
head of the charismatic entrepreneur William. T. Love. In 1890’s, Love saw a 20000 acre
community in Niagara county as his plot for his utopian “Model City”.

Love’s Model City would be located 7.5 miles away from Niagara River. A power canal seven
miles long would connect the town with the upper and lower levels of Niagara River The
channeled water would be lead to the Lewiston escarpment which would create a mini Niagara
Falls thus creating a major power source for the Model City.


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This would create a great amount of hydroelectric power in a time which factories must be
located near their power source.

In January 1893, William Love went to Albany to politick for a charter for his model city.
He did so by addressing both the senate and the assembly in a joint session, a first for a
private citizen. A very liberal charter was granted which gave him the right to “acquire
by condemnation any necessary properties”. (27, Zweig) Love gained the financial backing
from banking giants in New York, Chicago and London. (25, Zweig) With the charter now in
hand, Love extensively promoted his model city through ads, circulars and even “brass
bands playing his original ditty.” (2, Love Canal Report) Manufacturers quickly lined up
to open plants along the canal. May 1894, construction in the LaSalle area began. The
proposed canal would be 80ft widex30ft deep. 3,000 feet was excavated when Love’s dream
collapsed.

A financial depression hit the country in 1896, discouraging the necessary financial
backers. This was the most significant factor explaining the projects demise. Another
factor had t do with the power source. Louis Tesh discovered a way to transmit electrical
current economically over a distance using alternating current. Now factories did not have
to pay for expensive plots of land near power sources. His backers deserted him; the
remaining land was auctioned in 1910.

The only remain of Love’s dream Model City was a partially built canal. Several decades
afterwards, it served as a swimming hole for the children of the LaSalle district. (6,
Love Canal Report) In the 1920’s it became a dumping and municipal disposal site,


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“chemicals of an unknown kind and quantity were buried at the site for 25-30 year period
until 1953” (3, Love Canal Report)

Within fifty years, love canal went from being a charismatic entrepreneurs dream to a
toxic human and environmental disaster and the fingers and legislation point directly at
the dumpers. It is estimated that love canal received 22000 tones of chemical waste. (44,
Zweig) The four main dumpers was the city of Niagara, Hooker Electrochemical Co, Niagara
Power and Development Corp., and the Army, under the cover of a ceramics plant.

The Army owned the Niagara Falls Chemical Warfare Plant, which used the cover of a
ceramics plant at the time. Production only of one single product that was a substance
called “impregnite”. Once sprayed on clothes, the material was impermeable from chemical
warfare emissions. Ironically, they were manufacturing a substance to protect human beings
from toxic chemical contact while their dumping helped sow the seeds for another toxic
chemical disaster. Even during the time the plant was in operation, pollutants from the
plants were spewed out into the air. Chlorine and acetic acid was the main waste product
that effectively defoliated all the nearby trees. Although in the 1940’s emissions were
largely unregulated, the community continued to complain. It wasn’t until the factory
operation was complete that smoke stack scrubbers were ordered.(122, Zweig)

The dump was then filled in with dirt and sold by the city of Niagara to contractors for a
$1. (Stoss) In the late 1950’s home building began. Thirty years after
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