Varsha Kraus and her family fled their neighborhood in Love Canal in 1981 only to learn two years ago that its toxic waste had been dug up and buried in a landfill behind their subdivision in North Tonawanda.
After insisting for 25 years that the closed landfill posed no significant health threat, state officials changed their minds in December and declared it a Superfund site.
But warning signs were evident all along: rusted chemical drums, battery casings stacked waist high and children getting burns from splashes of orange pond water.
The Love Canal waste – enough to fill 80 dump trucks – has since been exhumed and shipped to out-of-state incinerators, but further tests show the landfill remains toxic. Yet the property is not fenced and lacks controls to keep contamination from spreading, which flouts guidance given to the state decades ago.