Wednesday, August 28, 2019


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carried a story titled "A brownfield boom could be coming to city of Waterloo". In one sense it is a positive story in that our municipal and regional governments are incentivizing the cleanup of old contaminated industrial sites around Waterloo Region. The question of course is this: Some of these former industrial sites have been contaminated (soil & groundwater) for anywhere from thirty to seventy-five years or longer. Therefore why haven't these contaminated areas been addressed long ago as the article indicates there is a community benefit from cleaning them up. After all both soil and groundwater contamination can migrate. The contamination in soil can volatilize and move as soil gas from contaminated to uncontaminated areas. Groundwater contamination can and does migrate both to surface water discharge areas as well as to lower groundwater elevation areas around municipal pumping wells used for drinking water.

The number of former contaminated industrial sites are surprising. Since 2009 eleven sites have been remediated to one extent or another in Kitchener, six in Cambridge, two in Waterloo and one in Woolwich Township. That is very interesting although it would be in the public interest to advise which former industrial sites these were. Why should either I or the general public be kept in the dark? For example which among many possible sites in Woolwich Township received these tax incentives?

While Waterloo historically had less heavy industry than say Kitchener or Cambridge nevertheless currently there are active but uncompleted redevelopments at ten properties in the city. That gives us a better idea of the extent of ground pollution in our Waterloo cities and townships. If I had to guess I might suspect that some of the residential development in Breslau might have received tax incentives due to past major contamination from Breslube/Safety-Kleen. All of us should know the true societal and environmental cost associated with textiles, general manufacturing, leather goods, chemical production, plastics, rubber, automobile tires, and so much more.

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