The Slippery Meaning of Science and Rectification at Love Canal

Examining environmental issues is a multilayered process. One needs to look into regional history, public outcry, federal and state regulation, corporate interest and environmental needs, among other things in order to determine the best course of action. Our past research and publications on the issues surrounding Love Canal, the first Superfund site, offers examples of careful, comprehensive work on the area and attempts to rectify a major environmental disaster.

The memory of Love Canal is said to be as monumental as the legislation passed in its wake; as Robert Abrams, Attorney General once stated, “You can go anywhere on the globe where English is spoken, and you mention the term ‘Love Canal’ and there will be a nod of recognition. This is a historic case.”  However, the scientific evidence produced was problematic due to political, social and economic pressures and did not sway governmental forces capable of rectifying the situation at Love Canal. As a result, the residents in the area unified through the use of gendered protest and performance in order to gain the sympathy and attention of the national media in order to extract action from the government on their behalf. Despite how well publicized this case was, the area is largely being redeveloped. This work traces the history of Love Canal to its current manifestation as Black Creek Village, providing an examination of how a residential Superfund site revitalizes itself.