Thursday, June 16, 2016


Examining and researching the various wellfields in Cambridge, Ontario led me to the discovery a few years back that the Region of Waterloo were more about "managing" industrial contamination than they were about cleaning it up. This "management" consisted of shutting down wells either short term or long term, playing musical chairs with various wells, pumping some wells for use as Interceptor Wells and finally even installing liners in wells in order to block incoming contaminated water from specific layers and depths.

Fast forward to Elmira, Ontario. Recently we have again been treated to the knowledge that we the public were lied to regarding Uniroyal Chemical being the sole contributer to the destruction of the Elmira Aquifers in 1989. Around 2001 it became clear that Nutrite(Yara) had contributed the majority of the Ammonia to the drinking water aquifers. Now we know that Varnicolor Chemical contributed DCE, DCA. TCE, Vinyl Chloride and Petroleum Hydrocarbons to the aquifers.

We were also lied to throughout the 1980s when our authorities stated that no Uniroyal's contaminants had left their property. We were told that there was an impenetrable, impervious clay barrier beneath their site preventing the downward flow into the Municipal, drinking water aquifers.

Lastly we were told that NDMA was the culprit and being the fastest moving had shown up in the south wellfield ahead of any other potential plumes. This was also a lie as various low concentrations of styrene, toluene and more were already in the south wellfield before NDMA was suddenly "discovered" and announced.

Lately I've been reviewing more technical literature from the 1989-91 era. While I knew that massive cleanup of Uniroyal's ponds, lagoons and pits had been completed in 1987-88, coincidentally immediately before the "discovery" of NDMA in the south wellfield, I was not aware of the numerous and ongoing studies looking for other sources of water in the Elmira area. During the 1960s and 70s test drilling was going on throughout Elmira and area looking for potential new well sites. The south wellfield (E7, E9) was one of the results of this testing as E7 came on line in 1970 and E9 in 1977.

I believe that with or without specific testing for organic chemicals (from Uniroyal) in the two wellfields, routine testing of inorganics would have told our water authorities (PUC, OWRC, MOE, RMOW) that Uniroyal's liquid wastes were in our drinking water. Conductivity and chlorides in particular along with perhaps sodium are good indicaters as to what is coming down the pipe. Also there was knowledge by the late 70s and very early 1980s that the aquifer beneath Uniroyal Chemical was the same aquifer beneath both the north and south wellfields.

You may recall Brian Beatty of Morrison-Beatty testified at the Environmental Appeal Board hearings in 1991-92 that Uniroyal's contaminants flowed due west off their site and were "held" if you will in stasis somewhere out there. This seemed odd to most observers in that by that time both wellfields had NDMA in them. In hindsight an examination of the pumping rates of the two wellfields is interesting. Both are west of Uniroyal with one to the north and the other to the south. The north wellfield while closer to Uniroyal is upgradient in the Municipal Aquifer. The south wellfield however while farther away is downgradient in the normal direction of groundwater flow from Uniroyal.

Could those silly buggers have been "managing" Uniroyal's contamination by coordinating the pumping rates between the two wellfields? Were they attempting to influence the contaminant plumes flow direction and if so for how long? Was the initial purpose of the south wellfield development back in the 1970s simply to delay the already known and inevitable spread of Uniroyal's toxic plumes to the north wellfield by changing the groundwater flow directions?

No comments:

Post a Comment