The city of Niagara Falls used the ditch for municipal waste. Later the United States Army also began dumping its waste in the ditch, including waste from the Manhattan Project and other chemical warfare experiments. In 1947, the Hooker Chemical and Plastics Corporation purchased the land and subsequently dumped another 21,000 tons of chemical waste over five years time. Hooker then filled the site in 1952.
In a strange twist, Hooker sold the land back to the city for $1. In the first sign of a problem, the city subsequently began building a school, which punctured a copper barrier that Hooker had placed to contain the waste. The school location was moved, but further accounts suggest the new location contained other toxic waste. Meanwhile, a working-class neighborhood formed in an era, and the population grew accustomed to the industrial slime that frequently invaded their streets during rains.
By the 1970s, a disaster was in the works. The population was sick, and many birth defects were occurring. Trees and plants died during rainy seasons that leached the toxins into their root system. Reporters brought national attention to the situation, and scientists began measuring the toxic levels. In the end, all residents were forced to evacuate, and the EPA sued Hooker's parent company for $129 million.