Wednesday, May 25, 2016


As contaminant plumes shrink over time it can become possible to see more clearly where they originated from. For example the south-west corner of Uniroyal has long been obvious as the ongoing source of contaminants migrating into the municipal aquifer on site and then flowing in a south-west direction off-site. The contaminants originate in the former south-west ponds RPW5-8. Similarily it has long appeared both in the municipal upper and municipal lower aquifer plumes that there is a source of both NDMA and Chlorobenzene either at Varnicolor Chemical or at Borg or both. These two companies were just across Howard Ave. from each other. Other source areas are even more obvious by their plumes such as the longterm one at well OW60 situated beside Park and Queen St. in Elmira. What is less obvious is what is the source in this area? To date it is a mystery although I have two possible culprits in mind.

Pumping well W5A/B most likely is drawing contaminants from the First St. Landfill as well as from the southern end of Chemtura. The historically high concentrations of chlorobenzene just west of Varnicolor (OW57-32 etc.) most likely are originally from free phase chlorobenzene. If not Varnicolor and it would require outright fraud by the M.O.E. for it to be from them; then it would have flowed either from Uniroyal/Chemtura's south-west corner across Union St. and past Varnicolor or it came across Howard Ave. from the former Borg Textiles. The Borg source could have been (and probably still could be) determined by shallow and intermediate soil and groundwater sampling.

Well CH38 located beside Sanyo Canada on Industrial Dr. has held much too high NDMA and chlorobenzene concentrations for two decades plus. Again shallow and intermediate soil and groundwater sampling could have (and still could) exonerate or implicate Sanyo as a source area. My expectation is that based upon the use of cutting oils etc. that NDMA is more likely to originate from them than chlorobenzene. In the alternative NDMA could have come from Varnicolor or Borg with chlorobenzene more likely from Borg. There is yet another possibility and that is due east down Oriole Parkway. The proven source area of Lot 91 was never remotely adequately remediated. Again based upon subsurface stratigraphy Napls (Non Aqueous Phase Liquids) could have gravity flowed westwards from Lot 91 towards the corner of Oriole Parkway and Industrial Dr. where they settled and have been slowly dissolving into the groundwater for decades. All these possibilities could easily have been tested for and still could be if the Ontario M.O.E. were honest and transparent. Apparently that isn't so.

Further possibilities indicating other sources in southern Elmira would have to include the former McKee Harvestor location. Simply based upon manufacturing, painting, metal working and the use of solvents make this former business along Southwood Dr. a candidate for investigation. Investigation I might add that was either never done or never reported to the public or both.

Switching northwards we have long been advised that the north wellfield near the Trans Canada Trail and at the extreme northern end of Snyder Avenue was contaminated by it's pumping of Uniroyal's NDMA upgradient into the wellfield. While theoretically possible I wonder if there were other closer sources. For example the former Strauss Fuels on Arthur St. north which I helped remediate while working for Quantum Environmental years ago is very close. This and others may not have contributed NDMA but what if they contributed petroleum hydrocarbons as normally found in gasoline and diesel fuels? Was the bad taste of Elmira water in the 1980s solely due to NDMA? Hardly.

Here is the big picture. Elmira's groundwater was a mess in the 1980s due to both large scale and small scale dumping, spillage, leaks and Uniroyal's in ground pits and ponds. The water stunk. Along comes NDMA or at least it was allegedly "discovered" in late 1989. I suggest to you that Elmira's two wellfields should have been shut down years earlier with or without NDMA. NDMA was a very convenient scapegoat for the Ontario M.O.E.'s negligence. Uniroyal was as well, however they had a price to extract before they would put on the scapegoat's horns being fitted by the M.O.E..

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