Environmental Activist Lois Gibbs Speaks to Hillcrest Residents

Lois Gibbs, the woman behind the Love Canal Cleanup, was in town Thursday to speak with Hillcrest residents about their issue with the refineries.

Gibbs rallied her neighborhood back in the 1970s, and residents' homes were bought up and the site ended up being cleaned up. She wants to see the same thing happen here.

A group of concerned residents met inside a home along Palm Drive. It sits right next to refinery row, and those folks were told they need to start taking action.

Gibbs told the group that she thinks the Hillcrest neighborhood is worse than Love Canal. That was where she began her environmental activism, after she found out that her neighborhood sat on 21,000 tons of chemical waste.

She said there was a high number of birth defects in the neighborhood, and many other unusual health-related problems popping up. Eventually, she was able to draw enough attention to the problem that the government stepped in and everything was cleaned up. The government also bought up hundreds of homes so the residents could escape the area.

Gibbs told the Hillcrest residents that they could do the same thing here.

"It's time for industry to come to the table," Gibbs said. "You got a new mayor. It's time for the mayor to bring the industries to the table, and it's time for you to put your demands out on that table, and your demands are you have a two-bedroom home, you want a two-bedroom home in a nice neighborhood."

The buyout proposal has been looked at in the past and was viewed as too expensive. There are around 300 homes there, and the market value for each is some $50,000.

However, Gibbs said that residents deserve and should demand a similar home to the one they have. That home should be located in a safer neighborhood.


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