Ch 17 Reports
This equipment will be used to start the long awaited cleanup of the Love Canal area this week work crews and heavy equipment started clearing last saw a drain pipe and trench system can be installed. The purpose of that trench system is to drain away toxic chemicals which up to the surface contaminating this neighborhood forcing more than 200 families to flee their homes. Right now the problem is groundwater contaminated with chemicals leaching out of the old canal and. Going throughout the neighborhood. Right now taking a very quick if we think we can do. And using very simple simple techniques to cut into something that. Basically what we're going to do is to dig to trenches night in the canal outside and now our low side. I mean 8 and 12 feet deep. In the bottom of this right. But a perforated. Village trying to travel through. The theory is that the groundwater
leaking now. At these trenches in the course material. Will be transferred to Royston home like wrapping your perforated by. These pipes will be holding. We will be pumping out the holding tank putting a leech through a onsite treatment plant and treating it until it is safe enough to be discharged into the. Sewer system. The City. Not everyone in the area is pleased that the construction is started. One small group of tenants in the LaSalle development of filed a court injunction to stop the digging until the state health department evaluates their health status. The people as people. Area town. Have to soon ride as others to remove from the area. If they have problems that the chemicals would make worse. And this is
our gripe. There is no provision in it for those with respiratory problems and we have quite a few people that do have the problem and they want to be moved out before the construction starts. What is the current status. Yesterday our lawyer Mr. Scott went to court in The judge refused to sign the stay in order. So it was necessary that we go to court now and that will be Monday and Supreme Court in I guess it will be up to us to prove that there is a cause for that. Construction to be how and where not for the work to be stopped completely only temporarily until provision is made for those with problems to be or
provision to move even though the renters Association was late in expressing their fears Love Canal residents and other people involved with the project have long held that these chemicals may cause dangers to workers and residents during the construction period. I can envision a number of great inherent dangers in the process of opening up the canal proper itself. Now the state has a rather complex and detailed plan for it and to the best of my perception it is a good plan under the circumstances probably the best you can do. It is complex but I think it is carefully designed as a detailed plan for protecting the workers. There's a detailed plan for protecting people either by removing him from the immediate vicinity or by containment through drainage ditches or other facilities pumps. And above all plan to put a clay layer on top of the canal so that when the rain starts pretty soon and snowfall occurs that the initial water will not enter the canal increase the problem. It is sort of a containment. Now what problems will
arrive as the canal prop itself is they kidded and is emptied of these toxic materials nobody can foresee. But I am pretty sure that the state has gone far far beyond what I expected them to do in safeguarding the process. It's a very they could let you know your meeting was held Tuesday to brief construction workers on safety procedures that in your head were going to beat you down there because there's many. Little that you're reading. But I just wonder if you have an adjustment when I don't know that it will go a little slow.
But I want to. It's pretty tough for a period of time. You're OK here between three to five minutes of their life. There's no comeback. Anywhere. When you hear me play another precaution was taken for residents still living in the area they participated in a bus evacuation from the area Monday. Sixty bus drivers involved in the simulated evacuation were first briefed on the evacuation plan.
Oh it goes on. Oh I will be away. You know where the world. Wars. Your. Life. I guess going there with the war war war war war. Sure. You are down and is almost sure.
Exactly what is the evacuation plan. The basic plan provides for the evacuation of the people in the areas immediately adjacent to the canal site in the West. In the event in a most unlikely event that something were to happen the way it was gases and so forth. This would be an order only on site safety officer Dr. Hilfiker from the state health department. And his judgment will be exercised. But. We do know that. I can't stress this enough we do not see any reason that this should ever come about. But we. Like everything else in this project. We've gone to the nth degree to assure the security and safety people what we have done is laid on a master plan where all the buses are kept in clusters at various locations throughout the area. This is for purposes of control largely due to radio communications problems we couldn't buy radios in
every single bus logically but. We do have a cluster of bases so we have a regular. Doctor half acre signal that would be hard pressed to pick up on the routes already establish. Each one of the 60. Or the West. To the conventions at that point Red Cross volunteers would board the buses to register all the people. People off the bus. With their children who are in the other schools within the city. But the principle is to get
their children boarded the bus again would be taken if required overnight they would be taken to University with the Red Cross people at our shelter. Relies on. Direction.
From what I've read they are right. They are worth it I think. People were going by that it's better to get
yours. Yeah that's when I have. To take. The bus route wasn't the only criticism made by area residents this week. One thousand families living in the perimeter received a telegram Wednesday which denied relocation help. The families asked to be moved because of health problems but the telegram told them that help was not warranted. One resident told us his reaction to that message. Oh I think it stinks feel sold out by the state by the Health Department. We gave we give aid to anybody else in the world needs aid. All I want to do is just get out of my house and I can't. Do you have some definite health problems among your family members. Yes we do we have an infant here there's three months old got a congenital defect. I just took him out of hospital an hour ago and I was supposed to move him back into a
contaminated house with chloroform and. How far away is your home from the official Canal Zone area. Half a block from the fenced off area. Have you had any verbal communication with any officials from the Health Department. Yes I have from Dr. Taylor. I complained two months ago about the problem. I asked for a second reading to back up the first. First he told me to have federal funds available. And then when he did finally come over and do an air sample inspect my whole basement make sure there was nothing stored there. The basement came up with a reading another chemical reading with chloroform added to it this time. And at that time he told me that if I want to bring my family up in a contempt chemically can freak area non contamination to move out the middle of the wilderness and I think a statement like that from a state official stinks. Residents flood these homes because of health fears.
Tests made on leaching chemicals found some of those chemicals cause cancer and other health dangers that have been found. Basement of people's homes known to cause cancer. I want to talk. For. Cancer Research the particular concern to me. I did some initial testing and I was not looking for any particular chemical by chemical name I was looking for a toxic effect or anything in there was a potentially potentially causing cancer. You know the state found. 11 suspected. Carcinogens that is a chemical capable of causing cancer in the soil. Now in my results and we confirmed that.
To be the chemical. The runs are definite so far is an increase in the number of miscarriages who become pregnant in the child. An increase in the number of birth defects. Now some of these. Problems mental retardation. The other thing. Is. There are several other problems which we suspect. That we have not gotten the hard scientific evidence to prove it yet. When we took the residents we find crease. Some chemicals are damaging the brain and the nerves. Now
we found people with epilepsy. We think it's more than you would expect in this area. We haven't noticed it to haven't been done yet. Famine with hyperactivity. She had a condition. Because she doesn't have yet. The minister and I also had a problem. Where he had stopped breathing at the age of six
months. The doctors have no explanatory reason why he did this. Possibly after our results that could be. Could. According to the symptoms that he had. But I was there at the time I blew on those mats and punched him in the back until he got to the hospital for help. And the only thing the doctor could give us a reason was the possibility. Of crib death which is a very high problem in this concentrated area of two or three years and discovered I had cancer. In the five years since then I have. Taken. And right match. A low blood count which can be contributed according to the status of pass ability. And of course my data with your and my other two children thank God. It hurts. It says they've been away for a week.
They were moving from place to place. We want to know what it's been here. Two year old he's lost weight you're weak you know that he's growing but you should grow. I have a daughter that's 12 years old. She was born and she has a birth defect. She was born she has rheumatoid arthritis and asthmatic bronchitis and she is missing part of her second refused to have true unborn baby. The birth rate. On the first effect would. Impress me for a percent higher. Can I look at them and rationally ever just. Approximately render. That's out of the hundred children. Who were there six out of a hundred children which is quite a bit more.
Actually when you're batting taken on a certain test. To figure out. What the kind of doing to your body motion very depressed a situation like this is just about the children's future which is. Really drinking heavily and. We had three suicides. This rational. Committed suicide. With two children that had
medical problems. It was going to graduate and that was his solution. She became emotionally disturbed. She hung herself. There were several others rather than just with each other. The chemicals attack the nervous system but it was not a professional but there's certainly something suspect that so many people. With her nervous system are used to pressure under. Such as. Commit suicide or contemplated. Beginning last August residents were given health histories were taken. Some of those are now available.
Nobody. That's not really sick but it's. Not mean since we. Don't have the statistics on the number. But it's a it's a significant increase. So there are still unanswered questions for residents here. One is whether these homes will be habitable after work is completed on containing the leaching chemicals. There may be some problems that will not be by the cleanup. I will have to wait and see. But certainly. Some of the
homes. Back from the canal that have bred on high levels for reasons we don't understand. I'm not convinced of the cleanup. Will have to wait to mention super Demi will some other else besides the first. Rule. Besides the homes a little since in my life there may be some homes. That are not. Suitable to losing. All runs the cleanup. Has occurred. No one even one federal disaster officials burst through her love and almost president stood firm when questioned about what they wanted and whether they would move back into their homes. Let me ask you this question I bet I should have asked it was only a movie too. If if you were to leave this area for some period of time six months or something and the houses were boarded up and this was open you know. And you get assurances that there wasn't a problem. Would you come back.
No that's not what we're looking for. What we're looking for to be moved out of the area permanently. I don't care if 10 years from now if they claim their back up clean our property up we're still no value to our homes. But the reputation is still here and many people of all it's an economic matter you wouldn't maybe be reluctant to come back if you had real assurances that there wasn't any environmental problems for my family put a fence around which from an economic. That's right. You he said you're feeling too. Yes and another thing is we feel that even though it's cleaned up we can come back in this area to the present home. I've learned now because there are often Tammany didn't there's no way I was imposing events and so forth and put in that you had assurances from the experts. Ok from what I understand from the expert is even inventing that in your water the chemicals are in the course of the cement and there isn't any way to clean it out. This is what I just you know we just like to get a permit like that and he does everybody feel that way you know. OK.
Some unanswered questions include lawsuits over Hooker Chemical and others involved in the chemical dumping and some residents still feel the army dumped in the area. We felt that what we did at the time was proper and correct. We reluctantly deeded the property to the Board of Education. We lost control of that property and that landfill site for 25 years when until this thing suddenly mushroom. So I would say that we believe that we have done all that a responsible corporate citizen could do under the circumstances to secure and maintain a safe disposal site. And I suppose that because of the notoriety which we have gotten as a result of the Love Canal situation you might say that we have been unfairly blamed. We're not interested in being blamed or pointing the finger at anybody we're interested right now in getting on with a programme of corrective action which has been delayed about two months from what we had anticipated which hopefully is beginning today
and we think that if the corrective action that has been designated by an independent engineering firm is in fact implemented and implemented properly properly it will correct almost all of the problem in that site. So I don't think that we can point the finger and I think. I would hope that someone 20 years from now will be able to look back and say you know back in 1978 they were doing thus and so and they never should have done it because look what it's done to our health and to our environment here in the year 2000. I think we're going to find that we're always going to find that we find a few years ago nobody knew what caused cancer. Here we are now in 1978 and they are finding things that are perhaps causing cancer. Some of the long time residents of the Love Canal area claim to have seen some army dumping taking place in that area in the dump zone there
in the late 40s early 50s as far as you can tell is there any truth to those rumors. We have no evidence one way or the other to either support or disprove that point. As I specified before to the army that I actually saw them come here and help them down load and push the drums in there and going out. Was this on more than one occasion three occasions that I saw them. There's about 18 drums altogether that. That I had I would say they were something special in him because they had Army personnel deliver him and made sure that I covered them. It may take years to answer all the questions raised by Love Canal but perhaps the most important question is What have we learned. I think we've learned that despite the fact that the United States is a great technological society we cannot have. Technology at the expense of everything else that there must be a
balance between the pursuit of a greater more comfortable life and the quality of life.
- Ch 17 Reports
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- WNED (Buffalo, New York)
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- This episode focuses on: Love Canal.
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- Channel 17 Reports is a news series that covers current events through in-depth reports.
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Identifier: WNED 05679 (WNED-TV)
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- Chicago: “Ch 17 Reports,” 1978-10-13, WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-81-61rfjf6v.
- MLA: “Ch 17 Reports.” 1978-10-13. WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-81-61rfjf6v>.
- APA: Ch 17 Reports. Boston, MA: WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-81-61rfjf6v