Brock prof says people have reason to be concerned over Niagara River discharge

In his four decades of studying water contamination, Ian Brindle has learned that when something doesn’t smell right, there’s likely more to the story.

That’s why the Brock University Emeritus Professor of Chemistry isn’t buying the story of the Niagara Falls, N.Y. Water Board that a discharge from a wastewater treatment plant which turned part of the Niagara River black on the weekend was completely above board.

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes through those treatment plants so it doesn’t strike me as being necessarily benign from a chemical standpoint,” says Brindle, a renowned researcher who has spent his career studying water contamination in Niagara and beyond. “They need to educate people. They can’t just do this and then seek an apology after the fact. It’s disgraceful.”

The black water discharge surrounded the Maid of the Mist dock area on the American side of the Niagara River and was visible to the thousands of tourists in the Niagara Falls area on a busy summer weekend.

This week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates have called for an investigation into what happened.

Brindle says it brings back memories from 30 years ago when Atlas Steel in Welland dumped chemicals into the Welland River that turned the waterway orange.

“That was an extremely visible and very concerning event that happened,” he says. “But there we knew what was going on because we knew where it was coming from. With a wastewater treatment plant, you don’t know what you’re dealing with.

“To say there’s nothing to worry about, I’d like to see the documentation. They should be reporting some numbers instead of saying ‘everything is okay.’ I’ve heard that too many times before,” Brindle says.

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