Thursday, October 4, 2018


Since the public RAC meeting of a week ago there have been some back and forth e-mails between myself and Ramin Ansari of Lanxess Canada. Ramin is a hydrogeologist and seems to be the man in charge these days on environmental matters at Lanxess here in Elmira, Ontario. While I've been impressed over the last year or so on the odd occasions when he and Lanxess along with the Ontario MECP (MOE) have attended public meetings with the RAC committee, I have had no interchanges with him until recently. I would suggest that I am more positively impressed with him since these back and forth e-mails.

One of his communications with me included a chart that the public were shown I believe during a presentation by Dr. Neil Thompson of the University of Waterloo probably just over a year ago. It is titled "Mass Remaining" and shows the mass of both NDMA and chlorobenzene estimated to be dissolved presumably in the off-site aquifers as well as the mass sorbed onto silts and clays in the low permeability aquitards. Then it shows how much mass of both NDMA and chlorobenzene that has been extracted by the pump and treat system. This mass can readily be calculated when one knows the concentration of the two compounds in the contaminated groundwater as well as the total number of litres pumped out over a time period.

The results show a total of 170 kg. of NDMA was estimated to be in the off-site aquifers and aquitards while to date 180 kg. of NDMA has been removed by the pump and treat system. Keep in mind that there are at least ten more years of pump and treat scheduled primarily because of NDMA although all parties admit it will take longer (much).

Chlorobenzene is considerably more bizarre. There was 1,300 kg. of chlorobenzene estimated to be in the off-site aquifers and aquitards and to date 3,300 kg have been extracted by the pump and treat system.

I think that it is fair to say that Lanxess have found this to be odd and strange. They appear to be on the lookout for the other source of chlorobenzene while at the same time focusing on their pump and treat system and getting it up to speed. Ramin advised that to date they don't know who else might be responsible. I've given him a couple of suggestions all of which I have published here in the past.

What I find interesting is NDMA. While not as dramatically peculiar as chlorobenzene, nevertheless more NDMA has already been removed than Uniroyal Chemical allegedly ever dumped, spilled, or released. It seems pretty clear to me that there is at least one more source in addition to Uniroyal. My first bet is on Varnicolor Chemical. Keep in mind that Uniroyal released precursers to NDMA such as dimethylamine which combined in an acidic environment with nitrogen compounds from Nutrite/Yara. Maybe Uniroyal had some of their own nitrogen compounds or not but I expect that Nutrite exacerbated the problem dramatically with both ammonia and nitrogen compounds in their groundwater. Varnicolor handled and mishandled dimethylamine along with everything else. Their site and nearby were historical pig farming operations. NDMA can be formed in and around sewage treatment plants as well as from ground soaked with pig urine and feces combined with the proper precursers such as dimethylamine. Of course this has never been seriously investigated by our authorities. They got their sweetheart deals and don't want to rock the boat.

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