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The California version of Love Canal

History repeated:  the dangers of Love Canal's contamination sites are here in California but are being ignored by public officials.
History repeated: the dangers of Love Canal's contamination sites are here in California but are being ignored by public officials.
Environmental Protection Agency/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Every time people hear or read of some horrendous occurrence, such as massive, deadly contaminants spilled into our waterways, or released into the air, killing animals, birds, sometimes even humans, we shudder. We may, if lucky enough not to live in the vicinity of the disaster, think “Thank God that’s not in my area.” This is what many residents on the west coast likely were thinking back in the 1970s during the Love Canal episode. They were thankful it was not out here, but rather in New York state, where the toxic substances—PCBs—were found to be causing all sorts of nightmarish genetic and other health problems.

Let’s do a quick refreshing of memory on the Love Canal debacle. In 1978, in Niagara Falls (American side), numerous people were found to be suffering from the effects of the most toxic chemical ever created: polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. This industrial chemical, used in a variety of industrial situations such as cooling transformers, had been dumped and buried in the soil. The Hooker Chemical company was the villain, dating way back before houses and schools were built on the afflicted properties. Skin burns, birth defects, cancers of various types, and a pervasive stench, characterized the results of this literal coverup. The long legal battles ended with the state buying many of the contaminated properties. However, nothing has remedied the physical and other forms of atrocities that the victims still live with.

Don’t be so quick to think this won’t happen again. It has, right here in our own area, namely Malibu and Santa Monica. Not that toxic contamination has not occurred in other regions nationwide, or that such travesties are never going to recur. Yet with even such lessons as in the recent past still fresh in many people’s minds, what is going on here is being ignored. Specifically, the soil filled with poisons in the Malibu High School case, among other local incidents, is being disregarded as though nothing is happening to the students and school staff there.

Quite a few children as well as teachers at Malibu High School are being diagnosed with thyroid problems including cancer. The PCB levels are said to be the highest in the entire country at this time. The findings of contamination haven’t just happened lately. No, this has been in the news for some time, and parents and Santa Monica school district employees are complaining and not being heard.

Concerned families are uniting in their demands to have action taken to deal with the contamination as soon as possible. They are sick, both literally and figuratively, of the effects of these substances on their health and that, especially, of their children. A website has been created to give the public details on this battle as well as to help families come together in their efforts: Here you will find videos, articles, photos, and accurate information about the ongoing struggle for justice in this ordeal.

Strange, isn’t it, how so many public officials, corporate polluters and other powerful players seem to think that by merely burying their misdeeds, the crimes will never be uncovered? It didn’t stay buried in Love Canal, and it hasn’t stayed hidden here in Southern California. The only things that still remain covered are the eyes of the miscreants and their followers that refuse to look at the horrors they’ve committed.

Here is a link to a petition urging Senator Barbara Boxer to have PCBs removed from schools:

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