Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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April 28, 2013

Love Canal suit tied to 2011 sewer work

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NIAGARA FALLS — A 2011 sewer line project that raised concerns about Love Canal-era contamination in Lasalle has prompted a lawsuit seeking damages for “grievously injured” residents of the Niagara Falls neighborhood. 

A complaint filed April 18 in State Supreme Court in Niagara County alleges that various parties involved in the project — including the Niagara Falls Water Board and the city itself — were negligent in the handling of the work at the intersection of Colvin Boulevard and 96th Street.

As a result, the complaint claims work crews “recklessly, negligently and/or carelessly disturbed, exposed, and discharged a substantial amount of contaminated sediment.” The claim suggests the work discharged a “myriad of hazardous chemicals” onto and into the property and homes of plaintiffs living in the surrounding neighborhood. 

The lead plaintiffs are identified as Falls resident Lisa Pierini and her two children. The claim was filed on the Pierini family’s behalf by the New York City law firm, Phillips & Paolicelli, LLP. 

Lisa Pierini declined comment when reached by telephone this week. The Phillips & Paolicelli law firm also did not respond to telephone calls seeking comment this week. 

The legal filing references the discovery of a chemical compound by contractors who were assigned to the sewer line project. It also details the checkered history of the Love Canal property and the clay-capped landfill designed to contain the nearly 22,000 tons of toxic waste dumped on the site from 1942 to 1953 by Hooker Chemical Co., the predecessor to Occidental Chemical. 

The lawsuit maintains that Love Canal toxins should not have been present in the sewer lines in the first place by virtue of remediation and containment actions tied to the site. It also suggests the defendants “failed to exercise due care to prevent the possibility of the escape of such chemicals.”

The plaintiffs are seeking compensation from the courts for the physical, mental and economic hardships they have endured as a result of the “dangerous” toxins being “continuously dispersed onto and into” their homes following the Jan. 11 incident as well as the toxins that have been “chronically and silently leaching” onto their properties for years. 

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