The ministry of environment has asked Lanxess and consultants to do more evaluation of the hotspots along the Canagagigue Creek, among other requests related to the Elmira chemical plant.
Provincial staff looked over and provided comments on the human health and ecological risk assessment draft prepared last month by Lanxess Canada and its environmental consultants.
The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) was satisfied with Lanxess’ evaluation of the potential risks to some birds and mammals in particular reaches of the creek and the additional soil and invertebrate samples planned to better understand these potential risks.
That said, in their comments ministry staff asked Lanxess to do more evaluation and revisions before the document is finalized. The main items requested include further evaluation of the areas where elevated levels of contamination are found, also known as hotspots, more assessment of potential risk to human health from consuming animals and animal products on farms within the creek’s floodplain downstream of the plant, more assessment of the risk for human contact with groundwater and more evaluation of potential exposure through consuming fish from the stream.
These asks from the province are framed as requests. When asked if they could potentially be framed as requirements or orders, ministry spokesperson Lindsay Davidson noted, “Lanxess is voluntarily conducting the creek investigations and risk assessments at the request of the ministry. No legal instrument, such as an order, has been needed to compel the company to undertake or complete this work.”
“Ultimately, whether tasks are mandated or requested, our goal is and has always been to work collaboratively with the involved stakeholders – including the province,” said Michael Mackin, a spokesperson for Lanxess. “We have conducted voluntary efforts in the past throughout the creek sampling and risk assessment process and are open to continuing to do so if it helps us all achieve the end goal together. With our external consultants, we plan to continue working alongside those within MECP, RAC (Remediation Advisory Committee), TAG and other members of the public to best address the concerns expressed for the best possible outcome with the least amount of impact.
“Lanxess takes this issue very seriously and has invested extensive time, effort, and funds with the full commitment to working with the involved stakeholders to remediate historic contamination from a previous operator of the facility. We remain committed to seeing this assessment through properly for the best interest of the community, the aquatic species, and other wildlife and activities across the region,” he said.
Members of Woolwich’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG), a panel of experts monitoring the work Lanxess is doing to address the historical contamination in the Canagagigue Creek and the Elmira aquifer, expressed disappointment last month that the company had rejected their request for further investigation of the hotspots in the creek.
“Lanxess is currently working with internal experts and multiple qualified external consultants to examine the MECP’s thoughtful comments and determine what the next steps will be,” said Mackin.
Once finalized, the human health and ecological risk assessment will determine the widely agreed-upon state of contamination in the creek and its watershed, and the actions Lanxess staff will take to address it.