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Former Residents Gather for 30th Anniversary of Love Canal Emergency Declaration

By Mark Scott

Niagara Falls, NY – Former residents of Love Canal are back in the Niagara Falls neighborhood this weekend, 30 years after fleeing toxic pollution. They expect results of a long-term state health study sometime this year, but are already saying it will be incomplete.

Renee Retton is part of an organization called the Children of Love Canal. She was an infant when the crisis erupted. Retton lost a sister at a young age and now worries about her own reproductive health. Retton says many people were excluded from the state study.

The Health Department, in preliminary findings, has reported higher rates of birth defects and bladder and kidney cancer among former residents.

But activist Lois Gibbs, who founded the Love Canal Homeowners Association, says health officials are engaging in a "final whitewash." She says the department evaluated only a small number of health problems.

State health officials said their findings are undergoing an extensive peer review by outside experts before being released. In a written statement Friday, they said they're proud of the work they've done.