Love Canal, First Superfund Site, Declared Clean

Love Canal is clean and will be removed from the Superfund list, said the U.S. EPA yesterday. Extensive pollution in the working-class area of Niagara Falls, N.Y., prompted President Carter to declare environmental emergencies in 1978 and 1980, and led Congress to pass the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act — subsequently known as Superfund. The neighborhood was built on a 19th century canal filled with a toxic mix of 80 industrial chemicals, which seeped into homes, burning children and causing a panoply of long-term ailments. Cleaning the site took 21 years and $400 million. The de-listing is largely symbolic, since most of the work on the site was completed several years ago and the EPA will continue monitoring it for years to come, but it has prompted reflection on the oft-troubled program. “While Love Canal marked the beginning of the Superfund, its successful cleanup should by no means mark its demise,” said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in a statement. “We still have a long way to go.”