This previous summer season H-Surroundings revealed a Roundtable Evaluation of Richard Newman's Love Canal: A Poisonous Historical past from Colonial Instances to the Current (OUP, 2016). An excerpt from Stephanie Malin's contribution:

Whereas the Superfund Act [CERCLA] resulted from nationwide consciousness of Love Canal, and although Newman focuses on the success that laws represents, we conclude with a troubling denouement. Love Canal is now Black Village Creek, filling up with a brand new spherical of working-class residents enticed by properties priced 10 – 20% under market worth. Although former residents together with Gibbs fought the relocation, they misplaced this battle. Builders received. The outcomes have been tragic; as Newman recounts, well being issues and poisonous exposures have reemerged on this ‘remediated’ neighborhood, regardless of the intensive, state-of-the-art environmental engineering schemes used to filter leachate and in any other case remediate the positioning.

Newman’s Love Canal succeeds in highlighting for readers an exceptionally well timed notion: earlier than the institutionalization of the U.S. Environmental Safety Company’s Superfund Program, the American panorama was riddled with unregulated, unmonitored, and infrequently unknown chemical and industrial dumps from America’s dizzying participation within the Industrial Revolution. Communities like Love Canal that handled these historic errors, Newman reveals, contended with rampant air pollution, contested and uncommon well being outcomes, and situations of deep disempowerment. Newman showcases for his readers the immense dangers and voluminous unintended penalties that emerge when environmental rules are absent and when the precautionary precept is eschewed in favor of commercial financial growth, in a single period after one other. His historic particulars, and his cautious examination of the quite a few boundaries confronted by Love Canal activists, show that regulatory applications that shield public and environmental well being are comparatively new, have been laborious received, and are always weak to eradication. Certainly, these are the very applications which have most swiftly come beneath assault beneath the Trump Administration – which makes Newmans’s message so related and well timed. 

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