Environmental Tragedy of Love Canal

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

Forensic Engineering, Proceedings of the Congress


The purpose of the paper is to provide the historical background of Love Canal tragedy and the lessons learned from the environmental tragedy. In 1948, it was discovered that hazardous waste had contaminated homes and schools in the Love Canal area. During the summer of 1978, the Love Canal first came to international attention. On August 7, 1978, the United States President Jimmy Carter declared a federal emergency at the Love Canal, a former chemical landfill which became a 15-acre neighborhood of the City of Niagara Falls, New York. The Love Canal became the first man-made disaster to receive such a designation based on a variety of environmental and health related studies. As a result of grass roots and interest and media attention, the Love Canal provided an impetus for dramatic interest in changes to environmental concerns worldwide. The tragedy shows the importance of identification of hazardous waste and the proper disposal of hazardous waste for protection of public health. Copyright ASCE 2006.