Love Canal Activist in Town

The Pleasant Ridge Community Council wil get words of advice and inspiration tonight from environmental activist Lois Gibbs, who was instrumental in the fight to clean up Love Canal in New York during the 1970s.

Gibbs will speak to the group at 7 p.m. at the Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church.—-

Many Pleasant Ridge residents are upset by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's proposed plan for cleaning up contaminants at the former Hilton Davis chemical facility. The residents have been fighting for 20 years to get the site thoroughly cleaned.

Pleasant Ridge residents began their struggle after strong odors emerged from the facility in the 1980s. After investigators traced the odors to toxic waste in lagoons on six of the Hilton Davis site’s 80 acres, the neighborhood worked with Hamilton County officials to take the company to court.

After the lagoon cleanup, the Ohio EPA entered into a consent decree with Hilton Davis which called for a study on the extent of pollution at the site. Under court order, the company hired an outside analyst to propose a cleanup plan that would protect the site’s neighbors and surrounding ecosystem.

The Ohio EPA has given its tentative approval to a cleanup plan that proposes to contain and seal the contaminants on-site, rather than removing them. Residents call that option insufficient and dangerous.

The church where Gibbs will speak is located at 5950 Montgomery Road.

Gibbs became involved in environmental causes in 1978, when she discovered her son's elementary school was built on top of a toxic waste dump. She organized her neighbors and, after a long struggle, won an agreement to evacuate more than 800 families from the area and to initiate a cleanup.

Her experience was later depicted in a popular TV movie starring Marsha Mason.

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