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The new Love Canal lawsuit, in which past and present residents of the area near the toxic dump seek millions of dollars in damages for alleged health problems, has been moved into U.S. District Court.

The move was made last week at the behest of one of the defendants, Miller Springs Remediation Management, which exercised its right to relocate the case.

Up until Wednesday’s filing, the case was being heard by Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, in his role as an acting State Supreme Court justice.

Murphy had made some procedural decisions allowing new defendants to be named in the case and barring the City of Niagara Falls from escaping the list of defendants.

Kevin M. Hogan of the Phillips Lytle law firm in Buffalo, representing Miller Springs, filed the motion to move the case.

His papers noted that the previous Love Canal lawsuit three decades ago was heard in federal court and resulted in several consent decrees against Occidental Chemical Corp., the owner of the dump site.

The claims made by the new plaintiffs must be heard under the terms of the federal Superfund law, not a state law, Hogan wrote.

The new lawsuit was triggered by a release of toxic chemicals while city crews were trying to repair a sewer line on Colvin Boulevard, in front of the Love Canal containment area, on Jan. 11, 2011.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation asserts that the containment area is not leaking.

A 2008 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, cited by Hogan in his papers, also said the containment structure was working properly.

Defendants in the case include all the companies associated with the remediation work or the maintenance of the sewers or the containment structure.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, who apparently had no say in their lawsuit’s transfer, could not be reached to comment Friday.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com