2. Love Canal Disaster
Love Canal was one of the most widely known
examples of groundwater pollution. In 1978, residents
of the Love Canal neighborhood in upstate New York
noticed high rates of cancer and an alarming number of
birth defects. This was eventually traced to organic
solvents and dioxins from an industrial landfill that
the neighborhood had been built over and around,
which had then infiltrated into the water supply and
evaporated in basements to further contaminate the
air. Eight hundred families were reimbursed for their
homes and moved, after extensive legal battles and
3. Love Canal Disaster
• The Love Canal came from the last name of
William T. Love, who in the early 1890s
envisioned a canal connecting the Niagara
River to Lake Ontario. He believed it would
serve the area's burgeoning industries with
much needed hydro electricity; however, the
power scheme was never completed due to
limitations of direct current (DC) power
transmission, and Tesla's introduction of
alternating current (AC).
4. Love Canal
5. Love Canal Disaster
• With the project abandoned, the canal gradually filled
with water. In the 1920s, the canal became a dump
site for the City of Niagara Falls, with the city
regularly unloading its municipal refuse into the pit.
• By the 1940s, Hooker Electrochemical Company
(later known as Hooker Chemical Company),
founded by Elon Hooker, began searching for a place
to dump the large quantity of chemical waste it was
producing. Hooker was granted permission by the
Niagara Power and Development Company in 1942
to dump wastes in the canal.
6. Love Canal Disaster
• This dumpsite was in operation until 1953.
During this time, 21,000 tons of chemicals
such as "caustics, alkaline, fatty acids and
manufacturing of dyes, perfumes, solvents
for rubber and synthetic resins" were added.
These chemicals were buried at a depth of
twenty to twenty-five feet. After 1953, the
canal was covered with soil, and vegetation
began to grow atop the dumpsite.
7. Love Canal Disaster
The Love Canal Disaster
Sale of the site
• At the time of the dump's closure, Niagara Falls was entering
an economic boom and the population began expanding
drastically, surpassing 85,000. The Niagara Falls City School
District needed land to build new schools, and attempted to
purchase the property from Hooker Chemical that had been
used to bury toxic waste., Hooker Chemical agreed to sell on
the condition that the board buy the entire property for one
dollar. In the agreement signed on April 28, 1953, Hooker
included a seventeen-line caveat that explained the dangers of
building on the site. Hooker believed it was thus released
from all legal obligations should lawsuits arise in the future.
8. Love Canal Disaster
• Geography City Niagara Falls County Niagara
County State New York
• Love Canal was a neighborhood in Niagara Falls,
New York, located in the LaSalle section of the city. It
officially covers 36 square blocks in the far
southeastern corner of the city, along 99th Street and
Read Avenue In the mid-1970s Love Canal became
the subject of national and international attention after
it was revealed in the press that the site had formerly
been used to bury 21,000 tons of toxic waste by
Hooker Chemical (now Occidental Petroleum
9. Love Canal Disaster
• Hooker Chemical sold the site to the Niagara Falls
School Board in 1953 for $1, with a deed explicitly
detailing the presence of the waste, and including a
liability limitation clause about the contamination. The
construction efforts of housing development, combined
with particularly heavy rainstorms, released the
chemical waste, leading to a public health emergency
and an urban planning scandal. Hooker Chemical was
found to be negligent in their disposal of waste, though
not reckless in the sale of the land, in what became a
test case for liability clauses. The dumpsite was
discovered and investigated by the local newspaper, the
Niagara Falls Gazette, from 1976 through the
evacuation in 1978. Potential health problems were first
raised by reporter Michael H. Brown in July 1978
10. Love Canal Disaster
11. Love Canal Disaster
12. Love Canal Disaster
13. Love Canal Disaster
14. Love Canal Disaster
• Construction of the 93rd Street School and the 99th Street
• Despite the disclaimer, the board began construction of the
99th Street School in its originally intended location. In
January 1954, the architect of the school wrote to the
education committee informing them that during excavation,
workers discovered two dump sites filled with 55-US-gallon
(210 L) drums containing chemical wastes. The architect also
noted that it would be "poor policy" to build in that area since
it was not known what wastes were present in the ground, and
the concrete foundation might be subsequently damaged.
The school board then moved the school site eighty to
eighty-five feet further north.
15. Love Canal Disaster
• The kindergarten playground also had to be
relocated because a chemical dump lay directly
beneath. Upon completion in 1955, 400 children
attended the school, and it opened along with
several other schools that had been built to
accommodate students. That same year, a twentyfive foot area crumbled exposing toxic chemical
drums, which then filled with water during
rainstorms. This created large puddles that
children enjoyed playing in.
16. Love Canal Disaster
17. Love Canal Disaster
Health problems, activism, and site cleanup
• In 1976, two reporters for the Niagara Falls Gazette, tested several
sump pumps near Love Canal and found toxic chemicals in them.
The matter went quiet for more than a year and was resurrected by
reporter Michael Brown, who then investigated potential health
effects by carrying forth an informal door-to-door survey in early
1978, finding birth defects and many anomalies such as enlarged feet,
heads, hands, and legs. He advised the local residents to create a
protest group, which was led by resident. The New York State Health
Department followed suit and found an abnormal incidence of
miscarriages. The dumpsite was declared an unprecedented state
emergency on August 2, 1978.
• Mr. Brown, who wrote more than a hundred articles on the dump,
tested the groundwater and later found the dump was three times
larger than originally thought, with possible ramifications beyond the
original evacuation zone. He was also to discover that highly toxic
dioxins were there.
18. Love Canal Disaster
19. Love Canal Disaster
• On August 2, 1978, Lois Gibbs, a local mother who
called an election to head the Love Canal Homeowners'
Association, began to rally homeowners. Her son,
Michael Gibbs, began attending school in September
1977. He developed epilepsy, suffered from asthma and
a urinary tract infection, and had a low white blood cell
count, all associated with his exposure to the leaking
chemical waste. Gibbs had learned from Mr. Brown that
her neighborhood sat at 21,000 tons of buried chemical
• In the following years, Gibbs led an effort to investigate
community concerns about the health of its residents.
20. Lois Gibbs
21. Love Canal Disaster
State of Emergency
• The lack of public interest in Love Canal made matters
worse for the homeowners' association. Initially, members of
the association had been frustrated by the lack of a public
entity that could advise and defend them. Gibbs met with
considerable public resistance from a number of residents
within the community: the mostly middle-class families did
not have the resources to protect themselves, and many did
not see any alternative other than abandoning their homes at
• By 1978, Love Canal had become a national media event
with articles referring to the neighborhood as "a public health
time bomb," and "one of the most appalling environmental
tragedies in American history.
22. Love Canal Disaster
23. Love Canal Disaster
• Eventually, the government relocated more than 800
families and reimbursed them for their homes, and the
United States Congress passed the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability
Act (CERCLA), or the Superfund Act. Because the
Superfund Act contained a "retroactive liability"
provision, Chemical firm was held liable for cleanup of
the waste even though it had followed all applicable U.S.
laws when disposing of it. Occidental Petroleum was
sued by the EPA and in 1995 agreed to pay $129 million
in restitution. Residents' lawsuits were also settled in the
years following the Love Canal disaster.
24. Eventually, the government relocated more than 800
families and reimbursed them for their homes
25. Minamata Disease
• Minamata disease sometimes referred to as ChissoMinamata disease, is a neurological syndrome caused
by severe mercury poisoning.
• Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata
city in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, in 1956. It
was caused by the release of methylmercury in the
industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation's
• Symptoms include ataxia, numbness in the hands
and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of
the field of vision, and damage to hearing and
speech. In extreme cases, insanity, paralysis, coma,
and death follow within weeks of the onset of
26. Minamata Disease
27. Minamata Disease
• The Chisso Corporation first opened a chemical
factory in Minamata in 1908. Initially producing
fertilisers, the factory followed the nationwide
expansion of Japan's chemical industry.
• The waste products resulting from the manufacture of
these chemicals were released into Minamata Bay
through the factory wastewater. These pollutants had
an environmental impact. Fisheries were damaged in
terms of reduced catches,
• The rapid expansion of the Minamata factory spurred
on the local economy and as Chisso prospered, so did
28. Minamata Disease
• On April 21, 1956, a patient was examined at
• The physicians were puzzled by her symptoms:
• After a house-to-house investigation eight further
patients were discovered and hospitalised. The
hospital director reported to the local public health
office the discovery of an "epidemic of an unknown
disease of the central nervous system", marking
the official discovery of Minamata disease.
29. Minamata Disease
• To investigate the epidemic, the city government and
various medical practitioners formed the Strange
Disease Countermeasures Committee.
• During its investigations, the committee uncovered
surprising anecdotal evidence of the strange behaviour
of cats and other wildlife in the areas surrounding
patients' homes. Crows had fallen from the sky,
seaweed no longer grew on the sea bed and fish
floated dead on the surface of the sea. As the extent
of the outbreak was understood, the committee invited
researchers from Kumamoto University to help in the
30. Finding the Cause
• Researchers from Kumamoto University also began to focus
on the cause of the strange disease. They found that the
victims, often members of the same family, were clustered in
fishing hamlets along the shore of Minamata Bay.
invariably fish and shellfish from Minamata Bay. This led the
researchers to believe that the outbreak was caused by some
kind of food poisoning, with contaminated fish and shellfish
being the prime suspects.
• The research group announced its initial findings: "Minamata
disease is rather considered to be poisoning by a heavy
metal... presumably it enters the human body mainly
through fish and shellfish."
31. Minamata Disease
32. Identification of Mercury
As soon as the investigation identified a heavy
metal as the causal substance, the wastewater
from the Chisso plant was immediately
suspected as the origin.
• In February 1959, the mercury distribution in
Minamata Bay was investigated. The results
shocked the researchers involved. Large
quantities of mercury were detected in fish,
shellfish and sludge from the bay.
33. Minamata Disease
34. Identification of mercury
Official government recognition
• Finally on 26 September 1968 — twelve years
after the discovery of the disease the
government issued an official conclusion as to
the cause of Minamata disease.
35. Identification of mercury
• "Minamata disease is a disease of the central
nervous system, a poisoning caused by longterm consumption, in large amounts, of fish and
shellfish from Minamata Bay. The causative agent
is methyl mercury.... Minamata disease patients
last appeared in 1960, and the outbreak has ended.
This is presumed to be because consumption of
fish and shellfish from Minamata Bay was banned
in the fall of 1957, and the fact that the factory
had waste-treatment facilities in place from
36. The Litigation Group &
• The verdict handed down on 20 March 1973
represented a complete victory for the patients of the
• "The defendant's factory was a leading chemical plant
with the most advanced technology and ... should have
assured the safety of its wastewater. The defendant
cannot escape liability for negligence. "The "sympathy
money" agreement was found to be invalid and Chisso
was ordered to make one-time payments of ¥18 million
($66,000) for each deceased patient and from ¥16
million to ¥18 million ($59,000 to $66,000) for each
surviving patient. The total compensation of ¥937
million ($3.4 million) was the largest sum ever
awarded by a Japanese court.
37. The Litigation Group &
38. Bhopal Disaster
39. Case Study: Air Pollution Episode
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
• The Story of Bhopal Gas Tragedy: The Lucky Ones Died That
• It was five minutes midnight in Bhopal on December 2 1984. The
congested city was asleep and the winter air was heavy. Many had
gone sleep. It was all quite, but the city was to change forever.
• Suddenly, 27 tons of lethal gases including methyl Isocyanate
(MIC) started leaking from Union Carbide’s Pesticide factory.
The cloud of gases rapidly blanked the city.
• Grossly under designed safety systems were either
malfunctioning, under repair, or had been switched off as part of a
cost cutting exercise. The warning siren at the factory had
reportedly been turned off. It was the world’s worst Industrial
40. Bhopal Disaster
41. Case Study: Air Pollution Episode
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
• Here is a survivor’s account of what happened on
that ill fated night:
• “ The poison cloud was so dense and searing that the
people were reduced to near blindness. As they
gasped for breath its effects grew more suffocating.
The gases burned the tissues of their eyes and lungs,
and attacked their nervous systems. People lost
control of their bodies Those who escaped with their
lives are the unlucky ones; the lucky ones are those
who died that night.”
42. Bhopal Gas Tragedy
43. How did the accident occur?
• How did the accident occur?
• Most probably water entered the storage tank and
caused a runway chemical reaction that led to an
increase in temperature, which converted the liquid
MIC into gas. Investigations reveled that there had
been six early accidents in the plant and that workers
had complained off exposure to dangerous
substances. Yet proper safety mechanisms were
allegedly not put in place.
44. Bhopal Disaster
45. Bhopal Gas Plant
46. Bhopal Gas Plant
47. Case Study: Air Pollution Episode
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
• Union Carbide accepted only moral responsibility for the
disaster and not any liability. The Government of India
filed a case against the company for US $ 3 billion, but
strangely accepted US $470 million as settlement in
1989. Nearly 95 % of the survivors had received just Rs
25000 for lifelong injury and loss of livelihood. That
works out to be 9 US cents a day for more than 20 years
of Unimaginable suffering.
• A criminal case was filed in the court of Bhopal against
Union Carbide, and its then chairmen Warren Anderson
for negligence,. They did not attend the court proceedings
and Anderson has been proclaimed a fugitive from justice
by the court.
48. Bhopal Gas Tragedy
49. What does the story of the Bhopal
Tragedy Tell us ?
• The tragedy shows that poor communities are
disproportionately affected by toxic materials
discharged into air, land and water. When a crisis
occurs, or an accident occurs these people cannot get
justice from the polluters, or the governments.
50. Alang : A Disaster in Waiting
• Alang is a census town in Bhavnagar district in the
Indian state of Gujarat. In the past three decades, its
beaches have become a major worldwide centre for
• Ship breaking or ship demolition is a type of ship
disposal involving the breaking up of ships for scrap
recycling. Most ships have a lifespan of a few decades
before there is so much wear that refitting and repair
become uneconomical. Ship breaking allows materials
from the ship, especially steel, to be recycled.
Equipment on board the vessel can also be reused.
• As an alternative to ship breaking, ships are also sunk
to make artificial reefs after being cleaned up. Other
possibilities are floating (or land-based) storage
• In addition to steel and other useful
materials, ships (particularly older vessels)
can contain many substances that are
banned or considered dangerous in
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are
typical examples. Asbestos was used
heavily in ship construction until it was
finally banned in most of the developed
world in the mid-1980s.
• Currently, the costs associated with removing asbestos,
along with the potentially expensive insurance and
health risks, have meant that ship breaking in most
developed countries is no longer economically viable.
Removing the metal for scrap can potentially cost
more than the value of the scrap metal itself. In the
• however, shipyards can operate without the risk of
personal injury lawsuits or workers' health claims,
meaning many of these shipyards may operate with
high health risks. Protective equipment is sometimes
absent or inadequate. Dangerous vapors and fumes
from burning materials can be inhaled, and dusty
asbestos-laden areas are commonplace.
• In recent years, ship breaking has become an issue
of environmental concern beyond the health of
the yard workers. Many ship breaking yards
operate in developing nations with lax or no
environmental law, enabling large quantities of
highly toxic materials to escape into the general
environment and causing serious health
problems among ship breakers, the local
population, and wildlife. Environmental
campaign groups such as Greenpeace have
made the issue a high priority for their