In the early 1900s, William T. Love devised a plan to dig a short canal between the upper and lower Niagara Rivers (near the city of Niagara Fall, New York) to generate inexpensive power for what he hoped would be a model community. The project was soon abandoned, however, and in the 1920s the canal was used as a dumpsite for industrial chemicals that had been stored in metal drums. In 1953 the Hooker Chemical Company (later purchased by Occidental Petroleum) closed up Love Canal and sold it to the city of Niagara Falls for one dollar. Within a few years many homes and an elementary school had been built on the site of the dump. By the 1970s, residents noticed heavy chemical odors and groundwater contamination in the community as well as an extraordinary number of birth defects, miscarriages, and cancer. Following an investigation by the New York State Department of Health it was determined that the area was heavily contaminated with numerous chemical compounds including several known carcinogens. On August 2, 1978 New York State declared a state of emergency and Governor Hugh Carey ordered that the homes closest to the canal be evacuated.
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