Friday, May 5, 2017


The following article was published in Bob Verdun's Elmira Independent on May 6, 1991; twenty-six years ago tomorrow. The title of the article was "Former Uniroyal employee highlights effects of Canagagigue creek pollution". The sub-title was "Fish and wildlife almost non-existent". The former employee was Ken Reger who testified at the Environmental Appeal Board hearing on May 1, 1991. Mr. Reger worked at Uniroyal from 1957 to 1968. He was also a trapper along Canagagigue Creek from about 1945 to 1988.

Quoting Ken Reger: "The muskrats in the Uniroyal area were always smaller and thinner, and upon skinning, they always had a strong chemical smell to the flesh". Ken went on to describe the "backwater" which is just south of Church St. on the east side of the creek on Uniroyal's property. "Uniroyal has built up the east side of the shore land adjacent to the east side of the backwater with oil-of-aniline sludge, which contained benzenes, to a depth of up to approximately 18 feet deep. This was taken from one of two sludge ponds south of Shirt Factory creek and west of the Canagagigue creek (the main Uniroyal site)". "Some of the sludge would slide into the backwater." "At one time, there were 20 muskrat houses on the Canagagigue creek, but now there might be about four, he said." "The few carp that are there, as they love backwater, are approximately half the weight of the same length of carp found a mile upstream," near the Woolwich reservoir.

Furthermore Ken Reger testified "Over the years, numerous spills of finished products occurred, usually by overflowing storage holding tanks. This spilled product, along with gravel, was shovelled into open-head 45 gallon drums and put into the drum heaters. The heated product would be siphoned off the gravel and redistilled. The remaining gravel and product in the drums was usually dumped in the town dump (near the south end of the Uniroyal property), as it was a gooey mess."

Finally Mr. Reger stated there were "many pure herbicide spills due to overflowing of tanks.". "When it became too soupy to walk in more road gravel would be spread there and periodically a front-end loader would take this, usually to the town dump, and fresh gravel would be spread in these areas."

This testimony is very relevant to this day. These areas described by Ken Reger have long been minimized by Uniroyal and their successors as either having primarily municipal waste in them (ie. the town dump) or as being hydraulically contained.

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