Wednesday, March 14, 2018


In my opinion the production and distribution of a topographical map of Chemtura's south-east corner was one of Conestoga Rovers most bone headed moves out of many. Topographical maps of course show surface elevation contour lines. Satellite photographs from both Google Earth and Waterloo GIS have also been helpful. The map was produced in April 2013 as part of the GP1 and GP2 Remediation and Capping. It is titled "Existing Conditions" and is drawing C02.

The key is the knowledge of just exactly how many gallons of Uniroyal Chemical's liquid toxic wastes were pumped across the Canagagigue Creek via two pipelines. The RPE pits or Retention Pits East were the recipients of these daily deluges of waste waters from the west side of the creek production facilities. 175,000 Imperial gallons per day were pumped across the creek and up the hill to the RPE pits on the high ground along Uniroyal's eastern border with the Stroh farm. A 5 1/2 day work week would produce close to a million gallons of waste water per week being added to the soils, air and groundwater on the east side.

These pits were of course uncovered. Uniroyal and their partners in pollution hoped for as much evaporation as possible. They also counted on infiltration into the ground. Lastly due to the slowness of the previous two methods especially during cold weather (winter) and cloudy days they counted upon the relatively unaccessible terrain in their south-east corner. It was a low lying, swampy area with however tree cover obscuring the view from the east and north. This south-east corner was approximately 20 metres lower than the highest ground at the north-east corner of their property. As per both written reports and the testimony of their employee Jeff Merriman they ploughed furrows from their RPE pits in the north down to Gravel Pit 1 and 2 (GP1 & 2) in the south-east. Finally via satellite photos one can actually see swales in the ground coming right from the most northern pit (RPE1) due south towards GP1 and 2.

Both the problem and the solution was that the swales couldn't be ploughed through swampland. Hence they ended north of the two former gravel pits . At that point the massive volumes of liquid wastes were emptying into and spreading out into the swamp. Keep in mind even normal precipitation upon the already saturated surface and sub-surface ground would only have increased the volumes of liquid wastes flowing constantly towards the lowest surface elevation. They gravity flowed downhill which then took the bulk of them off the Uniroyal property and onto the Stroh property. The lowest point is in fact on the Stroh farm well south of where they no longer could farm their fields both due to trees and more importantly the constantly saturated and submerged ground surface.

Clearly what was already a low lying, swampy area became a cesspool on both their properties. The lowest lying area on the Stroh property would eventually fill up and overflow southwards towards the Canagagigue Creek. I can only imagine the smell and the sight of it. During the hectic cleanup that went on during the mid 1980s prior to the announcement of the contamination of the south wellfield by Uniroyal in 1989; the Stroh Drain was built. This manmade drain would have solved problems for both Uniroyal and the Strohs. It would have lowered both the water table as well as the surface water accumulating on the Stroh property not that far from their home. It would also over time have allowed surface accumulations of Dioxins and DDT etc. to be flushed via rainfall and snowmelt into the Drain which then carried it southwards where after running through the Martin property it would discharge into the Canagagigue Creek further downstream.

While CRA's boneheaded move has opened the door to the truth of where the bulk of their Persistent Organic Pollutants (Dioxin, DDT, PCBs etc.) are located; it is not a done deal that they will be cleaned up and prevented from slowly discharging in perpetuity to the Canagagigue Creek. GHD, the successors to CRA are to date studiously avoiding soil testing anywhere near where it is required. The Ministry of Environment are happy to let them get away with it. Both human beings and wildlife will continue to pay the price for this negligence.


  1. Good article and to bad you couldn't collect and pay for the lab analysis of samples in the areas of concern to substantiate what you are suggesting. MOECC will not sample unless there is a reason on private lands I'm sure as they are short staffed (probably) (budget stressed) and putting there time and resources elsewhere. To me this all seems to be a private land owner issue.

  2. These two private lands (Stroh & Martin) are drained by the manmade Stroh Drain. This drain takes both contaminated surface and groundwater southwards into the Canagagigue Creek. The creek sediments, floodplain soils and the fish (carp, suckers, chub etc.) are full of Dioxins, DDT, PCBs, mercury etc..

  3. Not a lot of incentives for landowners to do this sampling. Alan, I'm sure you are familiar with the details of the Northstar Aerospace case where the ministry stuck the landowning corporation's directors with a multimillion dollar cleanup bill. If that was my land, I wouldn't want it known that it's polluted.