Skip to content

This year's honorees are reshaping the future. Join us.


Lois Gibbs Teams Up with Erin Brockovich to Investigate Illness at LeRoy High School

February 3, 2012

A mysterious illness in LeRoy, New York is making national headlines. Teenagers from LeRoy High School are showing symptoms of a neurological disorder, similar to Tourette’s Syndrome.  Doctors who have treated the teenagers have diagnosed the illness as a psychological disorder, but many people are not satisfied with that answer, including environmental activists Lois Gibbs and Erin Brockovich.

In what became known as the Love Canal, Gibbs won the Goldman Prize in 1990 for exposing 21,000 tons of toxic waste buried beneath her neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York. The discovery came after her children and neighbors complained of similar unexplained health problems. She fought for years to get the toxic waste cleaned-up and went on to become the founding director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), an organization that helps local communities combat toxic waste.

Gibbs and Brockovich have stated that they believe environmental factors have been prematurely thrown out of the investigation in LeRoy. They point out two areas of particular concern: The high school is closely surrounded by numerous natural gas “fracking” operations, and is thought to be built on top of soil that was trucked in from areas contaminated by toxic chemicals after a train derailment in the 1970’s. The women are working together to spearhead their own comprehensive investigation into the matter.

Related Posts

What Environmental Justice Means—and Why it Matters

January 4, 2022

Environmental activism isn’t just about protecting the natural world—it’s also about protecting people. Nowhere is this concept better illustrated than with the environmental justice movement. At its most basic level, environmental justice asserts that environmental issues and social justice are inextricably linked. What is Environmental Justice? Environmental justice is the idea that people of all…

Read more

Prize Winners Today: How Hilton Kelley is Building Community against a Backdrop of Environmental Injustice

October 19, 2021 – By Ellen Lomonico

The day before our interview, environmental justice champion Hilton Kelley (United States, 2011) was celebrating his granddaughter’s birthday—“the big 10.” With powerful, broad shoulders and a thick, white beard, it’s easy to see how the former actor embodies the role of a slightly intimidating but nonetheless jovial grandfather. It’s a responsibility that he holds for…

Read more

How Grassroots Environmental Activism Has Changed the Course of History

September 1, 2021

Environmental activism is more mainstream today than ever before. In the last several years, activists like Greta Thunberg have become media stars and household names; national news outlets have ramped up their coverage of climate campaigns; and politicians have become increasingly outspoken about how environmental issues affect policy decisions. The surge in awareness of environmental…

Read more