In 1978 the area of Love Canal, New York, became a focal point of media attention. The homes and schools of Love Canal, it was discovered, had been built on land contaminated by hazardous wastes and residents of the area were suffering from debilitating illnesses due to exposure to the wastes. Publicity of this specter of disease provoked widespread concern regarding the existence of other toxic waste disposal sites and the effects of hazardous wastes on health and the environment. The most significant legislative response to these concerns was the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA or "Superfund").

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