Monday, May 4, 2020


The actual full title of the story by Rob O'Flanagan is "River trash : Guelph's historical garbage just below the surface". The first few pages of the story show pictures of the Eramosa River and two of them are fairly disgusting. The one shows numerous glass bottles along the bank, some broken and some not. The other shows old electrical components including wires on the bank of the river. Possibly one item visible could be an old electrical ballast. If that is so then that is quite likely to be one of the sources of PCBs in both nearby soils and the river itself. I received this article from an old friend and environmental colleague living in Guelph.

Glass bottles, electrical wires, leather items, old toys, household garbage and foodstuffs and leaking car batteries. This situation likely runs from the Hanlon Expressway all the way to Victoria Rd. a distance of about 2.5 kilometres. There were a total of eleven dumps along that stretch of river. The first was on the west side of the Hanlon and the last on the west side of Victoria Rd. between the river and the south end of streets such as Lawrence, Audrey, Menzie, Kingsmill and Hayes. That information makes the very minimal outdoor soil vapour testing at a few streets nearest Victoria Rd. appear to be minimalist in the extreme. Similarly proposed indoor air testing for toxic vapours again in only a few streets nearest Victoria Rd. appears to be an attempt to "scope" or hide the potential extent of the problem.

There is no doubt that local industries enjoyed the privilege of dumping both inert and toxic wastes into these municipally condoned dumps. The term Landfill Site is far too nice of a term for car parts, pop, milk, beer, and liquor bottles combined with metal scraps, foundry wastes, probably liquid waste solvents and worse. The leachate from these dumps would be being discharged directly into the Speed and Eramosa Rivers. Also methane gas is formed courtesy of rotting foodstuffs. Both methane gas as well as solvent vapours (eg. trichloroethylene-TCE) are common examples of vapour intrusion into buildings and homes and while the first is explosive the second is horribly toxic to both pets and human beings. One witness stated in the article that he has come across strong and noxious vapours from even minor digging in the soils near the rivers.

Then of course we also have the non-voting residents of the area such as turtles, fish, muskrats, beavers and other wildlife. They have long been the recipients of the largesse of human beings who have become a plague upon the earth. We can do better and that includes proper cleanup of our sordid past behaviours. Excuses by the Ministry of Environment that we didn't know better at the time are exactly that: excuses.

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