Saturday, August 11, 2007

most people look at niagara falls and see a whole lot of water, a mass of blue raincoats, and some overpriced hamburgers.

a couple weeks ago, my friend and I went to that toxic waste dump and landfill infested mess that is the city of niagara falls and checked out the bit that was excluded from the seven wonders of the world list. the love canal, located in niagara falls, new york, served as a dumping site for the most delicious concoctions of hooker chemical. the thousands of tons of waste included mass quantities of dioxin, the most toxic chemical ever created by man.

in the early 1950s, the niagara falls school board, despite words of caution from hooker et al., purchased the land for a total of one dollar. then they built a school on it. they struck gold when they first tried digging the foundations - gold in the form of barrels of chemicals buried in the clay - so they changed tactics and built the school right on top of the clay-covered canal, breaking the protective seal.

as years went by, dioxin leaked into the hearts and homes and DNA of the inhabitants of the community. though they soon linked the swelling pools of foul-smelling liquid in their backyards to the skyrocketing rates of leukemia, chronic illnesses, miscarriages and children born with extraneous limbs or sets of teeth, the government didn't catch on as quickly. in fact, the city's solution was a low-income housing development, built along the blocks surrounding the canal.

it wasn't until 1980 that the president declared the area a state of emergency and evacuated the people living closest to the contaminated region. today, the most toxic area is enclosed behind a chain-link fence. across the street, there is a playground and a new housing development known as black creek village. the homes left behind by those evacuated have been almost entirely demolished. where there were once rows of houses, there are now overgrown fields, deserted streets and cracked driveways that lead to nowhere.

a few chose to stay. this guy has a block of abandoned lots for neighbours and probably four different types of cancer.

like a ghosttown.

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