NIAGARA FALLS CITY: The developer of the first homes to be built on the Love Canal landfill site since it was declared contaminated 20 years ago has selected Buffalo-based agency The Partnership to manage its PR campaign.
Chairman Al Klenk, handling the brief on behalf of builder Burke Brothers, said it was too early to say how he plans to position some of the most famously polluted land in America.
Burke Brothers' attorney Rocco Termani does not anticipate a negative reaction. 'The piece of land we're building on was never contaminated.
There's a perception out there in America that there's a problem, but it's not a big a problem here,' he said.
Love Canal was the subject of a media scandal in the 70s when it emerged that hazardous waste dumped by Hooker Chemical and Plastics Corporation had leaked into the basements of surrounding buildings. In 1978, residents were relocated after a survey found water, air and soil were all polluted.
The Burke Brothers scheme will be built on a 6-acre site where there is no scientific evidence of contamination, but which lies within the area the government declared unsafe. The $5.2 million development, called Vincent Morello Senior Housing, will include 80 subsidized homes and 16 units for the elderly, to be completed in October 1999. Termani said: 'It's a poor city and we'd never be able to rent them if they weren't subsidized,' he added.
Robert Irvine, chairman of the Louisville-based Institute for Crisis Management, observed that the key to a successful campaign will be to anticipate attacks by environmental groups, politicians and the press.
'There's a legacy there. It's a name you remember,' he said. 'There will need to be solid, tangible evidence that the site has been cleaned.'.