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Facult des sciences | Faculty of Science

Sciences de la Terre et de lenvironnement | Earth and Environmental Sciences

Complexe de la Recherche Avance | Advanced Research Complex
25 Templeton Street, Ottawa ON Canada K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 x6824
613-562-5192 idclark@uOttawa.ca

October 5, 2015
Municipality of Clarington
40 Temperance Street
Bowmanville, ON
L1C 3A6
Attention: Mayor Foster and Members of Council
Re: SLR Project No: 209.40261.00000
Clarington Transformer Station Peer Review

Mayor Foster and Members of Clarington Council:

I am a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa. My
research interests revolve around the use of environmental isotopes and geochemistry in
groundwater and paleoclimate studies. I wrote the textbook on the subject Environmental
Isotopes in Hydrogeology and have been studying, teaching and practicing isotopes for
35 years.
As you may be aware, our laboratory, the A.E. Lalonde AMS Laboratory at University of
Ottawa, recently conducted tritium testing on three residents wells near the vicinity of
this site. I am in receipt of the report submitted by Mr. Steve Usher dated September 28,
2015 concerning the Clarington Transformer Station project.
There are several inaccuracies in Mr. Ushers report that I believe should be brought to
your attention, regarding the recharge sources and age of the groundwater in the
Thorncliffe aquifer. I have used the conceptual model that Steve Usher used, which
assumes very simplistic plug flow, and it indeed gives an age close to what he has
suggested, of about 65 years. However, his model assumes no mixing along the flow
path. That is to say that a certain volume of water from one year of recharge would flow
through the aquifer to the well without mixing with the water recharged the year before
or the year after. Groundwater mixing along a flow path is a well-documented
component of hydrogeology called hydrodynamic dispersion that John Cherry wrote
about over 40 years ago. Groundwater with an average age of 57 years will have a span
of ages, probably including recharge over a 10 to 20 year range, due to mixing. With the
complexities of the peaked tritium curve he shows for precipitation, with a maximum in
1963, makes it very difficult to have 21 TU in water. With a standard amount of

dispersion, my computer modeling of tritium in this flow system cannot account for the
higher tritium measured in this well. Therefore, the flow system feeding the Thorncliffe
aquifer must be more complex than represented in his report.
In my opinion, Steves interpretation of the deep well tritium, 21 TU, requires an
understanding of recharge and dispersion in groundwater flow. He does say that his
interpretation has limitations, but he finds it consistent with the observed conditions. I
would say that it is simply incorrect and misleading to suggest that the groundwater
in that well recharged in 1958. This is a flow system that needs to be better analyzed
and modelled to make any reasonable interpretation. If the deep aquifer is being
counted on for a secure supply of groundwater for those whose shallow wells
become contaminated, then more work is warranted to demonstrate that they are
indeed protected from the site.
Therefore, I fully endorse the recommendations included in Dr. John Cherrys letter dated
October 5, 2015 where he recommends as follows:
My first recommendation is that this report, in its present form, be withdrawn and reissued after there has been rigorous and broad peer review and discussion of the tritium
and other results as they relate to the homeowner wells and the site hydrogeology. Or that
it be fully acknowledged that it is an interim report with need for further review to assess
the meaning and implications of the tritium results. It would be best if the re- issued and
peer reviewed final version of this report is done after more tritium data are obtained and
also after tritium/ helium data are obtained and assessed.
My second recommendation, as I recommended several years ago when the homeowner
well sampling program was set into motion, is that all or nearly all of the homeowner
wells around the site and also monitoring wells at the site be analysed for tritium, and on
samples taken at the same time, there be analyses of other indicators of vulnerability
including: electrical conductance (EC), chloride, nitrate and dissolved organic carbon
(DOC) and bacteria. This sampling should be done immediately. A subset of the wells
should be analysed for tritium- helium. It is widely known in the hydrogeological
community that tritium is an essential tool for assessment of well and aquifer
I am certainly willing to be involved in the discussion that Dr. Cherry proposes with Dr.
Gerber and Mr. Usher and himself.

Dr. Ian D Clark, P.Geo.