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Hats Off To Lois Gibbs

She’s like our Erin Brockovich, only cooler. She’s been insulted, slighted, harassed, threatened and shot at in her 30 years as an environmental advocate—the mother of Superfund.

Lois Gibbs, who was in town last week to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Love Canal Homeowner’s Association, is an inspirational icon to millions for her humble courage in speaking truth to power. It all began as a result of maternal concern for her children, and those of her neighbors, who began developing a puzzling array of illnesses including cancer, epilepsy, asthma, urinary tract infections, and more.

All as the result of the 20,000 tons of chemical waste buried under the schoolyard across the street.

What began as concern evolved into her life’s work. She continues to serve as Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, the grassroots organization she founded in 1980 to help communities deal with the real health threats posed by hazardous materials.

Here are a few things she had to say last Friday, as she led old friends, new activists, and media types on a nostalgic walk down 99th, 100th and 101st streets in the ghost town known as Love Canal.

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  • WNYMind

    In retrospect it is amazing that Gibbs has made such an impact nationally. Her organization, down in the DC area, has prompted the federal government to clean up volumes of toxic sites across the country.

    If you visit most of those sites today you would never know they were polluted. Many of those superfund sites are environmentally safe, homes to residents, and incredible green parks. Saddly, the Love Canal area is still a blighted mess. Ironically, state and local government never fully stepped up to the plate to deal with Love Canal. Fortunately, other states and localities took their superfund sites seriously, thanks in part to Gibbs, and they are no longer toxic risks to their communities.

    So, Gibbs was smart to take her cause to the national level, and move her organization to DC where the action is. She found a few good men and women in governement to help her and go a ton of work done around the nation.

    The other irony is that Gibbs is NOT a household name in WNY. She has probably made the largest impact on the daily lives of Americans of any western New Yorker, but gets little fan fair. Of course, I don’t think that’s why she does it.

    So when you are driving down the Tim Russert Hwy, think of people like Gibbs who are known for a little more than saying “go Bills” at the end of their TV show every Sunday.

  • alan marten

    living on an indian rez def know what its like esp. when exxon tried mine on well close to our rivers that would radiate our waters. thank you lois gibbs you became an activist by chance cause of your kid congrats. i love you .this lac courte oriellse rez indian living in boston at 4redhawk@gmail.com contact me if you want