Thursday, May 19, 2016


There is a dichotomy, possibly even a conflict of interest with the process of cleaning up and redeveloping brownfield sites in Ontario. I am in full agreement with the principles of environmental site remediation of former industrial lands resulting in their repurposing for other industrial or commercial uses. This helps a municipality's tax base in the long run and for planning purposes allows more infill within municipal borders.

The potential dichotomy lies in the simpler more straightforward remediation of surface soils and groundwater thus reducing or eliminating exposure at the surface. For example Varnicolor's Lot 91 at the extreme eastern end of Oriole Parkway could and did affect negatively human beings simply walking on its' surface twenty-five years ago. The contamination was so gross that a K-W Record reporter spent a weekend sick in bed after solvent exposure through their feet via surface ponding. Another citizen felt nauseous simply by inhaling the solvent contaminated air on the site. Our wonderful Ontario Ministry of the Environment did remove buried drums of solvents including P.C.B.s yet simply allowed this site then to allegedly remediate itself via natural attenuation. In other words rainfall infiltrated the soil and carried the contamination deeper both for some microbial degradation as well as for simple dilution. Much of Lot 91's contamination doubtless has spread downstream via the Canagagigue Creek as well as deeper into the Municipal Aquifers where in theory at least it will eventually be pumped and treated.

I have seen M.O.E. negligence on other sites as well including the former Breslube in Breslau and the old Sunar site in Waterloo. Shallow containment and treatment certainly is better than nothing but in Breslau resulted in the shutting down of drinking wells K70 and K71. To this day both the M.O.E. and Region of Waterloo deny the obvious with these wells.

I expect that the top ten to fifteen feet of the old Varnicolor site on Union St. is indeed remediated to the point that commercial redevelopment is appropriate. I am not aware of health risks any longer through surface activities due to quite onerous remediation activities of the surficial aquifer including source removal and treatment of the shallow groundwater over the last twenty years. Hence this dichotomy. This site may be fine for commercial redevelopment while still a threat or risk to much deeper aquifers. It most likely does negatively impact the overall cleanup of the two deeper municipal aquifers by 2028.

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