Furthermore, both statutory and tort law at the time were ill-equipped with regard to provision of environmental safeguards and taking care of the fall-out of an environmental crisis . In fact, at the time that Hoover Chemical Corporation was dumping toxins into the canal, there was no law with regard to the disposal or dumping of chemicals; thus, Hoover was acting within its purview since at all times it either had the owner's permission to dump or it was the owner of the property itself. Consequently, in order to avoid this problem in the future, legislation was passed regulating the dumping of hazardous waste. Furthermore, environmental laws were passed such as CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liablity Act, aka Superfund) that held polluters accountable or the damages they caused. Additionally, in the realm of civil tort law, in 1994, a Federal District court ruled that Hooker had been negligent and they agreed to pay 129 million dollars in restitution ("30th Anniversary of Love Canal," 2008; Engelhaupt, 2009).
Results: Where are we thirty years after Love Canal?
Thirty years after Love Canal, we still have environmental laws and organizations committed toward operating in proactive ways toward environmental pollution and hazards. In fact, Lois Marie Gibbs founded the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste or, as the recent change in title states, the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (Schroeder, 2009; Gibbs, 2006). Her organization has helped to draw attention to the need for government and the law to be proactive with regard to potential environmental crises. However, in recent years, a very disturbing step backward in the environmental rights movement has taken place. CERCLA or the Superfund was established to provide for swift clean up and response to the needs of a crisis such as experienced by the individuals whom lived at Love Canal. Through CERCLA, the government took responsibility for the protection of its citizens and its land to be free form environmental poisons. CERCLA specifically held the polluters responsible for their actions by requiring that "polluters pay fees." In essence, this amounts to a significant victory for communities such as Love Canal who have had to endure a struggle against large corporate polluters in order to free themselves from toxins and obtain recourse for the damage that their toxins caused (Gibbs, 2008).
A cry for continued involvement and focus upon environmental rights
Unfortunately, in 1996, Congress demonstrated its institutional amnesia or, perhaps, its fleeting commitment toward environmental concerns and/or protecting the people against incidents such as Love Canal. Indeed, Congress failed to re-enact the polluters pay principle of CERCLA. Instead, it shifted the burden onto taxpayers; and, in 2003, CERCLA or the Superfund officially ran out of the funds that previously polluters had paid into as a result of their environmental transgressions. In fact, the founder of the grass-roots movement, Lois Marie Gibbs, provides an apt analogy which exemplifies the hypocrisy of the government, "We teach our children that if they make a mess, they must clean it up." Gibbs wonders why corporations should not be held accountable to clean up their own mess much like how we teach our children to clean up their own messes. Instead, the people are now burdened with approximately 1.2 billion dollars worth of debt related to environmental pollution and/or clean-up in which it did not directly cause. Gibbs notes that thirty years later, it is critical for her as well as others committed toward protecting the public from environmental harm to "continue the battle for all of our children. & #8230;[T]his journey started at Love Canal and I need everyone to continue on this journey with me" (Gibbs, 1983).
30th Anniversary of Love Canal. (2008, June). Retrieved from http://www.chej.org
Blum, Elizabeth D., Love Canal Revisited. Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2008, p.20-22.
Brown, PhD, P., & Clapp, PhD, R. (2002). Looking back on Love Canal. Public Health Reports, 17, 95-98. Retrieved from Association of Schools of Public Health.
De Angelo, L. (2008). Love Canal, New York. In the encyclopedia of Earth. Washington D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Coalition for Science and the Environment.
Engelhaupt, E. (2009). Happy Birthday, Love Canal. Chemical & Engineering: Government & Policy, 86(46), 46-53. Retrieved from http://pubs.acs.org/cen/governement/86/8646gov2.html
Gibbs, L.M. (1983). History: Love Canal: the start of a Movement. Center for Health, Environmental and Justice. Retrieved from Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology.
Gibbs, L.M. (2008, August 6). The lessons of Love Canal lost unless Superfund is fixed. The New York Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions
Nelson, L., & Harris, G. (2001). Revisiting a Hazardous Waste Site 25 Years Later. Journal of Environmental Health. Retrieved from Questia.com.
"Occidental to pay $129 Million in Love Canal Settlement." U.S. Department of Justice. December 21, 1995. Retrieved 2007-02-03.
Schadt, R. (2010). What is Love Canal? Retrieved from BUSPH.