Saturday, August 13, 2022


 I keep asking myself that question. It clearly isn't at TAG or RAC and it sure as hell isn't with the Ontario Ministry of Environment (MECP). Let's look clearly at where we are thirty-two years after the south wellfield (E7, E9) was shut down in November 1989. Both the south and north wellfields are still shut down and all Elmira water comes from a pipeline to Waterloo. The latest estimates for the possible use of our local municipal aquifers (MU & ML) is 2050 or 2060. The Region of Waterloo announced many years ago (possibly at CPAC in 2013) that they no longer were even considering the Elmira Aquifers as even a possible source of drinking water in the forseeable future. That was a shock at the time as Eric Hodgins of the Region made the announcement at a public CPAC meeting. Meanwhile our grossly contaminated, by Uniroyal Chemical, Canagagigue Creek has improved since both 1970 and since 1998 after the construction of the Elmira Sewage Treatment Plant and the Upper Aquifer Containment & Treatment System respectively. When almost everything is dead and only the most pollution tolerant organisms can live in the Creek, major improvements are possible albeit the Creek is still a toxic mess albeit less by dissolved pollutants in the water and more by Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) that are somewhat hydrophobic and preferentially attach to soils and sediments. Lifeforms in the Creek sediments are consumed by fish and other small predators and they move up the food chain. This includes human beings eating the fish plus additional exposures. The former Uniroyal Chemical site is still a toxic mess and likely will remain that way for many more decades or even centuries without serious remediation. 

Could it be that some of the relatively young professionals on TAG fully know and accept that reality? Is that why they continually express their disappointment over on-site containment losses in the Upper Aquifer to the Creek and even recently months of failures for the two on-site pumping wells (PW4 & PW5) which are not achieving the Target pumping rates mandated to keep the dissolved contaminants in the Municipal Upper and Lower Aquifers on site and out of the rest of the Elmira Aquifers. This is unacceptable when the company and MECP are present and allegedly dealing with RAC and TAG. How bad will it be when the company eventually pack their bags and go to greener (i.e. even less oversight) pastures? Where is the outrage by local citizens and residents?

On top of that we have the so called Risk Assessment of the Canagagigue Creek and Lanxess to date are insisting that despite hundreds of soil and sediment samples in excess of criteria just for dioxins/furans and DDT, not to mention the plethora of other contaminants conveniently being removed from consideration as Contaminants of Potential Concern, that the risk to human beings is acceptable. They currently are insisting that no remediation is necessary other than where the Creek flows through their property. They are however keeping TAG members and the MECP playing their game by advising that they will do a little more sampling in the two Reaches  (3 & 4) of the Creek nearest their site (i.e. Reach 4).

Nearly thirty-three years later and we have cosmetic and minor improvements only throughout Elmira and downstream. We were promised the Cadillac cleanup by Uniroyal Chemical way back in 1990 and later. We've received the absolute minimum and the long compromised Ministry of Environment have followed orders from the Ontario government not to spend the time and money necessary to force the recalcitrant polluter and corporate successors to restore our natural environment to even a fraction of what it was. Is literally everybody involved in the "cleanup" part of the sham and public relations slogan that "Polluter Pays" in Ontario?  Young children in 1989 are now the next generation involved in so called public consultation allegedly to monitor and supervise the cleanup. They appear to have no fire in their bellies for a fight. Environmental careers can be made or possibly broken  on the back of this public spectacle . That is why local non professionals with institutional memory are also needed  but other than co-optees they have been intentionally excluded and discriminated against by "our" authorities. Until or unless numerous members of the public step up yet again we will never see the appropriate cleanup of our groundwater, surface water, air and soils.

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