A certain class of refugee would bridge the gap between something that is man-made and something that is an uninhabitable disaster worthy of refugee relief. The Love Canal Controversy is the perfect argument for this function. Love Canal, a subset within Niagara Falls, New York, was intended as a model community and hospitable home for its residents, but belying its cute name, it was really a toxic waste dump disguised as a town.
The initial plans for the municipality called for the development of groups of houses and parks that would stand as shining examples of a residential community as well as the namesake canal before Mr. William Love, the developer, ran out of funding and the site became a chemical dump. In time, though, the Niagara Falls population began to expand, and in need to acquire land, residential officials bought the ground above the site, despite the possibility of toxic chemicals underneath. Upon discovery of numerous health defects and positive tests for toxins, the site was declared to be in state of emergency, and evacuation of all resident was ordered.
The move to help refugees then, in this case, was to evacuate the town and contain the extent of the contamination. Refugee relief came in the form of state and government funds used to reimburse the town residents and help refugees of Love Canal. The Love Canal fiasco, aside from being an environmental health and policy planning wake-up call, also set the precedent for the declaration of an environmental disaster area and expanded the idea that environmental causes could be used to determine refugee status in the public consciousness.