Wednesday, January 22, 2014


One of the reasons I find the time investment in studying other contaminated sites worthwhile, whether in Waterloo Region or even further away, is in order to gain perspective as to what are normal practices, normal cleanups etc.. Also I have often found amazing similarities in things like the responses and reactions of the public and of local politicians to contaminated sites. Industry as well have standard operating procedures in responding to accusations, allegations and even overwhelming proof of their behaviour having caused social harm.

Ciba-Geigy grossly polluted Toms River, New Jersey. So did Union Carbide albeit more indirectly. They had a middleman who took their drummed toxic wastes and illegally dumped them behind a farm. Then Union Carbide did the five minute cleanup at first leaving the bulk still in the soil. Later source removals of drums, contents and soil were much too late to stop a contaminant plume a mile long, 400 feet wide and 150 feet deep which impacted the Parkway Wellfield. Ciba-Geigy also did everything possible to avoid a proper cleanup including dumping their liquid toxic wastes directly into the Atlantic Ocean. Eventually they did excavate on site and use thermal desorption to clean their contaminated soil. This was after the Holly Wellfield was contaminated in the 1960's allegedly only by their direct dumping into the Toms River. I would very much like to see some hydrogeological evidence of the state of the aquifers between the Ciba site and the nearby Holly Wellfield. Personally I am skeptical as to the lack of evidence pointing to groundwater contamination rather than just the infiltrating Toms River getting into the Holly wellfield.

The Ciba site alone had a $92 million excavation and thermal desorption program. They also had 37 recovery wells on-site and nearby; pumping 2,000,000 gallons per day. This pump and treat AFTER source removal is to run from 1996 until 2025. Also the treated groundwater is not being dumped back into the badly abused Toms River, rather it is being reinjected on-site. In comparison Chemtura have done minimal source removal including the recent Gp1 & Gp2 surface dioxin & DDT removal. In November 1991 the Ontario Ministry of the Environment named specific readily accessible locations on their site which had DNAPLS (dense non-aqueous phase liquids) in the subsurface. Unfortunately the month previous the M.O.E. in a private Settlement gave Uniroyal an Indemnity for those very same subsurface toxins. The current pump & treat system comprises two on-site municipal aquifer wells and five off-site municipal aquifer wells for a total of less than half of what Ciba are pumping. Chemtura (Uniroyal) also dump their mostly treated groundwater into the badly abused Canagagigue Creek. The time frame here in Elmira is 1998 until 2028 allegedly.

Elmira, Woolwich and Region of Waterloo citizens were promised a real cleanup. Instead a conspiracy involving all levels of government was and is unfolding. Chemtura toxins continue to leak and move off-site whether by groundwater, STP discharge, surface water discharge and air discharge. This is the Elmira cleanup and it's taken serious, secret negotiations between government and Chemtura to make it so. The losers are the environment and the health of citizens.


  1. Can you explain what "thermal desorption" is?


  2. Morning Bob: Thermal desorption involves heating contaminated soil until various solvents and contaminants turn into a vapour. This higly toxic vapour or gaseous stage must be captured usually via activated carbon . The soil can then be returned to its' original location.