Last Thursday, participants of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s Water Academy heard from Luella Kenny, a former Love Canal resident, and life-long advocate for environmental justice. Students listened to the heart breaking and valiant story of how Love Canal residents fought to protect their lives and the lives of their families from the imminent danger of more than 80 different toxic chemicals buried underneath their neighborhood. Mrs. Kenny reminded the class that Love Canal’s history was one filled with government neglect, corporate greed and the courageous civil action of many mislabeled “hysterical housewives.”
The Love Canal tragedy ultimately led to legislation like the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), or the Superfund program, which holds corporations accountable for the clean up and remediation of hazardous waste sites. Love Canal also initiated the Environmental Justice movement and brought international attention to the fact that a majority of extremely dangerous hazardous waste sites are found in the areas where the most marginalized and vulnerable populations reside.
Mrs. Kenny feels it is important to continue sharing her story in order to protect future generations from having to live through another environmental disaster like Love Canal.