Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Vapour Intrusion is a well recognized phenomenon both south of the border as well as here. Preston (ie. Cambridge) Ontario had and still have issues and human suffering directly related to vapours from contaminated groundwater entering their basements. The compounds involved are toxic including Tricloroethylene (TCE), Trichloroethane (TCA) and Chromium VI. Overall the Ontario Ministry of Environment exceeded the low standard of grotesquely pathetic and incompetent. The Region of Waterloo's Health Department were better albeit modestly. The City of Cambridge on occasion have exemplified the highest standards of lip service to the disaster.

Here in Elmira, Ontario, research over the decades seems to clearly indicate that our authorities while diligently studying and monitoring groundwater contamination were much slower in actually aggressively taking action. The first groundwater monitoring wells were installed in 1969 twenty years prior to the "discovery" of NDMA in the south wellfield in 1989. Dimethlamine, the precurser to N-Nitroso Dimethylamine (NDMA) was used at Uniroyal Chemical since the 1940s. It was discovered in both air monitoring as well as wastewater sampling in the 1970s all at excessive concentrations. The Ministry of Environment laid a Control Order for cleanup on Uniroyal in 1984. For the rest of the 80s Uniroyal were emptying wastewater pits, ponds and lagoons desperately trying to avoid what everybody (politicians, M.O.E., consultants, Region ) knew was inevitable. Many tonnes of wastes were either shipped off site or reburied in plastic lined pits on the east side (RPE 4 & 5).

So on the basis of our authorities prior knowledge of the groundwater contamination and eventual drinking water contamination; lets look at vapour intrusion. Last Friday I posted here about Waterloo North Hydro being advised by myself that they needed to do their due diligence in regards to a nearby landfill. They stated that they would. Well in my opinion they did not. By yesterday afternoon two men were excavating a small trench on High St. (Charles St.?) and they advised me that they had received zero communications from Waterloo North Hydro regarding any issues whatsoever of a health & safety nature. I again got on the phone and was advised that the lady in charge (engineering) at Waterloo North Hydro would call me back. This she did and stated that yes they were digging however they had gas monitors and were carefully checking their subsurface excavations for oxygen and methane. While that's all well and good I did ask when that started to which I received no response. Hmm.

I would like to think that this bizarre communications was not related to the fact that Sandy Shantz is a member of the Board of Waterloo North Hydro.

So based upon thirty years of technical reports I have to assume that once again our authorities are in full possession of the facts but once again similar to our drinking water crisis they are waiting for a disaster/crisis before they seriously take the necessary actions to ensure the safety of Elmira residents and workers. I would best describe this behaviour as problem avoidance behaviour combined with severe head in sand syndrome, common to politicians worldwide.


  1. There are on-line, methane detectors that can be ordered and then picked up at Home depot. I don't know if you can just go straight to the store and whether they'll be in stock or not. Thanks for the info Gordon.

  2. Who knew. Canadian tire in K-W has them as well as one in stock in Elmira.