In 1892, a small area near Niagara Falls, New York, USA was dug up and designed as a route for transportation and for the production of hydroelectric power connecting the lower and upper reaches of the Niagara River, called the love canal (named after William T. love). The process was left incomplete and eventually became a site for waste disposal. A Plastic manufacturing chemical company disposed of its wastes in sealed steel drums during the years 1940 to 50. More than 20,000 tons of 80 different chemicals were dumped in the area.

In 1953, the company sold the land to the city of Niagara Falls. Subsequently, many residences and an elementary school were built on the land. The tragic story of the love canal incident started after twenty years due to heavy snow and rains. The sealed plastic wastes had corroded the drums and started leaking into the soil, buildings, water etc. Children in the school were shocked to see their rubber shoe soles disintegrating and they also suffered burns. This caused the officials to look into the matter and it was found that the wastes contained lot of carcinogens and a wide array of toxic organic compounds like benzene, chloroform, dichloroethylene etc.

 The clean-up of the Love canal totally amounted to about 275 million US dollars. The schools and homes were destroyed, the families relocated, the soil was completely covered with compacted clay, the wastes were diverted to a treatment plant, the water pipes were blocked with barriers, etc. This was a classic example of solid waste mismanagement. Toxic materials pose significant health hazards and dwindle our precious bio-reserves.

Proper and timely management of waste is very important in the good interest of our environment, and us. The above classic case study proves that management of wastes is a very serious business and if not handled with care, the cleaning up of improperly disposed wastes can cause loss/damage to human life and be extremely costly. It therefore makes sense to plan the disposal of various kinds of wastes in a scientific manner.

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