NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - They didn't know it at the time, but they were growing up in a toxic wasteland. More than 30 years later, the children of Love Canal are battling illnesses they have no doubt were brought on by the chemical disaster under their feet.
Classmates who grew up in the neighborhood where 21,000 tons of toxic waste had been buried say they're still feeling the effects of that chemical exposure. The 93rd Street School inside the toxic zone was demolished, but at a reunion a couple of years ago, students who attended the school found common concerns and believe the exposure to chemicals plays a role in their illnesses.
Former School 93 student Laura Racine said, "And I went to the reunion and decided to seek out all the kids that went to the 93rd Street School with and see if they were having health issues as well. And nine out of ten of them were having health issues."
Former Love Canal resident Katherine Messer said, "After rounds and rounds of antibiotics I have severe stomach issues."
Chris McKenna, who also used to live in Love Canal, said, "I have multiple sclerosis, diabetes and hypothyroidism. And we have a lot of questions and don't have a lot of answers. And we thought those answers were provided in 1980 when they resolved that stuff. Thirty, forty years later, who could have known? It seems like there's too many issues going on."
Another former resident, Sean Donoughe, added, "We want some answers because we're too young to have all of us having thyroid disease, diabetes."
Environmental attorney Richard Lippes said, "It appears from the really high level of disease and death, surprisingly high. Thirty percent of one class, for example, in their 40s. There's got to be a reason for it and if we can determine the reason is chemical exposire, then we'll bring lawsuits.
And now there are concerns about new leaks detected by residents who moved back near the neighborhood.
Christian Civiletto-Morris, an attorney representing some of the former residents, said, "The cap at this point is past its expiration date. As we move forward from here, we'll be figuring out is there anything going on with the cap? What concerns do we have about any tunneling? Any caking?"
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