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.