Friday, November 23, 2018


It doesn't get much more blatant than this. Today's Waterloo Region Record has published a story titled "Kitchener will try to force sale of Electrohome site in January." This site located at Shanley and Duke St. in Kitchener has been vacant and contaminated for decades. Apparently, contrary to the vaunted method of natural attenuation, this site remains contaminated with among other items chlorinated solvents. Who knew that chlorinated solvents, also known as DNAPLs were so difficult to remediate naturally. Oh right, everybody in the industry knows that and they've known it probably for half a century at the least.

One of the contaminants is TCE better known as trichloroethylene. This is the same contaminant as dramatized in the movie "A Civil Action" starring John Travolta. It's the same contaminant which caused wide spread disease and death in the Bishiop St. community in Cambridge. It was discovered around 2005 but had been getting into homes via the basements as a gas for decades prior to that. The proper term is vapour intrusion. Has any of our authorities even tested nearby homes around Shanley and Duke St. for vapour intrusion? Nothing surprises me anymore and if the answer is no and the negligence is through the roof, nobody will be held accountable. It's the Canadian way.

Another reason that buyers even promised huge concessions are staying away from this Kitchener site could be the example set in Elmira by the Ministry of Environment (MOE). The former Varnicolor Chemical site was purchased from Phillips Environmental by a company now on site known as Elmira Pump around 2000. The owners of Elmira Pump were advised that another five years or so of operating a shallow aquifer pump and treat system would allow the MOE to give the new owners a Record of Site Condition (RSC) allowing them to sell part of the site for commercial development.They are still waiting for the RSC. Turns out that the original hydraulic containment system or pump and treat installed in 1995-96 was expected to clean up the mess within a decade. More than twelve years after that deadline they are still remediating.

It seems that the MOE may have misinformed Elmira Pump exactly as they misinformed the public back in the 1990s. The MOE at that time had Uniroyal Chemical on the hook to clean up the Elmira Aquifers. They surely didn't want Varnicolor Chemical to muddy the waters and did their best to cover up the extent of deep contamination on their property. If you were a developer today looking to pick up a bargain property with a history, would you trust any promises from the Ontario MOE?

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