In 1978, a young housewife named Lois Gibbs discovered that her child’s elementary school was built on top of a toxic-chemical dump. Determined to do something, she organized her neighbors into the Love Canal Homeowners Association, which worked for more than two years to have the community relocated. She led her community in a battle against the local, state, and federal governments. After years of struggle, 833 families were eventually evacuated, and cleanup of Love Canal began. National press coverage made Lois Gibbs a household name. Her efforts also led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, which is used to locate and clean up toxic waste sites throughout the United States. The federal government bought over 800 homes when it became indisputably clear that the 21,000 tons of toxic waste over which the community was built were making people sick.
In 1981, Lois created the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), an organization that has assisted over 10,000 grassroots movements.