Tuesday, June 18, 2019

LANXESS'S GROUNDWATER TREATMENT SYSTEM



The adage ignore what they say and scrutinize what they do is never more true with this company and their predecessors (Uniroyal/Crompton/Chemtura) in Elmira, Ontario. Generally every month there is a large schematic in Appendix A of their monthly Progress Report. The schematic is also usually titled Figure A.1 . It tells the contamination tale far more accurately and honestly than any words or text produced by either Conestoga Rovers or GHD on behalf of Lanxess etc.

What is significant is which wells are directed towards which specific treatment. Vitally important of course, readers need to know exactly where each well is located and which aquifer they are screened in. Of course this vital information is not provided in this Figure or Appendix. Other reports over the decades have maps showing these various locations ranging from on-site (Lanxess) upper aquifer wells along the Creek to off-site (i.e. under the town of Elmira) municipal Aquifer wells whether in the municipal upper aquifer (MU) or the municipal lower (ML) aquifer. There are no pumping wells situated in the Bedrock Aquifer although it is contaminated with NDMA well above drinking water guidelines.

For example the on-site upper aquifer (UA) wells are the only ones that go through a LNAPL (light non aqueous phase liquid) Separator prior to being treated by granular activated carbon. This is because of the sub-surface pool of LNAPL (toluene) announced to Elmira citizens way back in 1995. It is much less expensive to pump and treat (horribly slowly) this toluene than to actually physically remove it from the ground in any kind of decent time frame.

Similarly ammonia is removed from some of the pumping wells including all the on-site pumping wells (shallow & deep) as well as off-site pumping wells W5A, W5B, W6A, W6B, and W8. When it was pumping, W4 behind (west of) Varnicolor near the Elmira water tower also went through ammonia removal treatment. This tells me that ammonia originates both on the Nutrite property (W8), the Uniroyal property (PW4, PW5, UA wells), and spread off-site to nearby W5A and W5B and also likely originates from former pig farms located on and south of the former Varnicolor Chemical on Union St. where pumping wells W6A and W6B are now located. The fairly shallow Yara (Nutrite) pumping wells are the only wells that only require ammonia removal and not other solvents and chemicals. The deeper W8 pumping well on the west side of Yara (Nutrite) requires both ammonia and solvent removal treatment telling me that the solvents flowed westwards from Uniroyal off-site beneath the Nutrite property. .

Pumping well W9 is located beside the former shirt factory on Park Avenue at Union Street and beside Shirt Factory Creek. Also located either immediately on this small property or very close nearby was the M-1 Landfill depending on which map is currently in favour. W9 does not require ammonia removal but has been plagued for the last few years with toluene and benzothiazole contamination requiring treatment upgrades. These chemicals were both common at Uniroyal Chemical and tells me that likely they were disposed of in the M-1 municipal landfill whether legally or otherwise.

Well W3R is the furthest south well that goes through this on the Lanxess site, treatment processes (E7 beside Voisin Motors has it's own NDMA, ultarviolet treatment system). W3R is at south of Industrial Drive and Oriole Parkway beside the Midas(?) muffler shop and immediately beside Landfill Creek. W3R receives activated carbon and ultraviolet treatment for NDMA, chlorobenzene etc. but does not receive ammonia removal treatment.

A careful look at not only the current pumping wells and their treatment as well as having watched the past twenty-seven years of on-site and twenty-one years of off-site pump and treat has told the tale. Years ago W4 behind (west of) Varnicolor Chemical was a major pumping well. It is now shut down. PW1 and PW3 on site used to be major pumping wells to contain contamination in the north-west and south-east corners. They are now shut down. The locations of these wells are crucial in understanding where the sources of contamination originated and how adding pumping wells (W9, W6, W8) belatedly off-site has likely exacerbated the failure to achieve the cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers in thirty years (1989-2019) much less by the 2028 deadline. Current estimates are 2050 or later. Well done Uniroyal Chemical, Ontario Ministry of Environment, municipal and regional governments although the Region did try harder than the rest.

Monday, June 17, 2019

CURRENT DEMONSTRABLE CONCERNS



I have recently been exposed to an inside look at what pushes politicians buttons. It is not necessarily the big ticket items such as jobs, abortion, proportional representation, global warming, etc. It is often much more mundane, albeit immediate. It is, if you will, the short term concerns or complaints of several citizens who have actually sent a letter, an e-mail or even phoned their local representative on a matter that is upsetting them personally today or yesterday.

This helps explain to me why locally for example Elmira citizens are not en masse protesting ongoing Uniroyal/Lanxess issues including the grossly delayed cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers and also of the Canagagigue Creek. The groundwater aquifers obviously are out of sight and hence out of mind. As long as our taps still produce reasonably clean water then it is not an item of immediate concern or crisis. However watch the clamor for our own local water to be restored the day after there is a problem with either the pipeline down to Waterloo or the water coming from it.

Similarly watch the clamor via letters, e-mails, and phone calls to our municipal and regional councillors and even to our M.P.P.s if our drinking water takings from the Grand River were halted due to pollution from the Canagagigue Creek.

Back in 1998-2000 our local councillors were on the bandwagon and putting pressure on Uniroyal Chemical because of the ongoing complaints they were receiving about gross odours and air pollution in Elmira. Most of these same councillors were perfectly happy to bend over backwards for Uniroyal otherwise despite a decade's worth of scandal and public exposure as to how Uniroyal had abused the air, groundwater/drinking water and the surface water of the Creek. In other words the immediate issues rated political attention but the longer term issues of contaminated drinking water had been at least superficially resolved via the pipeline to Waterloo.

Currently it doesn't seem to have hit our local media but Woolwich councillors are watching carefully the Elmira Pet Products plant because of their odours and multiple citizen complaints to council. Local political response to immediate, in your face, problems is a good thing. Part of the problem though is that the perpetrators know that citizens and politicians aren't looking for the best, most appropriate, long term solution. They both simply want the appearance (or smell) to go away today. Hence often cosmetic solutions and bandaid style first aid solutions are embraced versus sustainable solutions that benefit everybody.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

ELMIRA PET PRODUCTS



This is an interesting case from a number of perspectives. In hindsight I wonder why there hasn't been more organized opposition over the decades to the odours coming from this plant. It is especially odd when you consider the organized opposition that occurred when the Woolwich Bio-En facility was first proposed to be built beside the pet food plant on Arthur St. north. Again while there were issues in regards to truck traffic, the largest concern seemed to be that of odours. Afterall the bio-energy plant was taking food wastes and turning them into methane gas to run a generator to produce electricity which was then sold back into our hydro grid. It seemed that local residents knew what they were stuck with regarding pet food production odours and either felt that more was simply too much or that the odours from Woolwich Bio-En might be worse.

I have had communications from several Elmira locals as well as residents closer to the downtown. Some of the local residents are very upset and angry that these unpleasant but presumably (?) non-toxic odours continue to make their backyards on occasion unusable. The legal term is that citizens have a right to the enjoyment of their property and this company off and on for decades has infringed upon that legal right. Quoting myself "Canada has the best legal system in the world, that money can buy." Without the addition of citizens' hard earned money, the law is essentially an ass and that's exactly how the powers that be intended it to be. Afterall in their opinions laws are for the little people while the wealthy and powerful can and do buy their way around the law.

Two different citizens have suggested to me that despite all the fancy language and technical jargon from Elmira Pet Products supposedly explaining their difficulties stopping odours over the last couple of years that in fact it's all about money and cost of filters or scrubbers that are cheaper either not to clean/maintain/replace on a regular basis or simply to by-pass. I do not know if that is accurate or not but I do know that outside experts blasted Uniroyal Chemical in 1999-2000 after years/decades of toxic and odourous emissions. Outdated air models, uncovered outside storage of sludges and a far too slow upgrading of their emissions controls were all exposed as the cause of the horrible and disgusting Duke St. fumigations that went on for three summers in a row (1998-2001).

If Elmira Pet Products are playing similar games then they deserve the condemnation of all residents of Elmira as well as of local, regional and provincial politicians. Of course expecting politicians to take sides against industry may be going against the grain for them.

Friday, June 14, 2019

ANY RELATION TO KEN SEILING? - FORMER ELECTROHOME SITE ON SHANLEY ST.



The Waterloo Region Record have had two recent stories regarding the abandoned and decaying factory at 152 Shanley St. in Kitchener. They are titled "Building owner wants deadline extended" and the earlier article was "Owners of Electrohome site have a history of property standards violations in Waterloo". This first article outlined a number of rental properties owned by the Spylo family which have been problematic for the City of Waterloo over the years. There have been dozens of complaints to the City of Waterloo from tenants and the City have stated that there were problems either getting the work done in a timely fashion or to an acceptable standard.

The article about the deadline extension request advises that the Spylos have requested an extension to a City of Kitchener order demanding an application for a permit either to make repairs to the structurally unsound Shanley St. building or to demolish it by June 17, 2019. The building which has become an eyesore in the community for many years due to grass, weed, and snow issues is now suffering from decades of neglect including a leaking roof which has severely damaged interior floors and joists. Mike Seiling, Kitchener's chief building official, is considering granting a deadline extension if the owners provide the City with a written engineer's report attesting that the building hasn't gotten any worse in terms of its structural stability.

It is my understanding that developer Mr. Spylo purchased this old building back in 1998 and has essentially let it sit and rot for over two decades. Clearly he views it as an investment that will eventually pay off while he does not do legally mandated upkeep both inside and outside the building. Are our municipal by-laws really this weak or is it a case of selective enforcement with a city council unwilling to force a recalcitrant property owner and business person to follow the rules that the rest of us are expected to? Lastly what about the TRICHLOROETHYLENE (TCE) on this property? Where is the Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE/MECP)? Have they any recent soil and groundwater test results that prove the TCE has not left the property and is not threatening residential neighbours? If not then shame on them yet again for their negligence.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

SAME OLD GOVERNMENT & BUREAUCRATIC RESPONSES TO THE PUBLIC



Last Saturday I posted an update here on my looking into an alleged storm water pond being constructed on the property of Floradale Feed Mill that discharges into the Woolwich Reservoir. Excuse me all to hell if I believe that the Woolwich Dam (& reservoir) are public property as in bought and paid for by taxpayers' money. Yes of course there is a private benefit involved namely to Lanxess Canada and possibly their predecessor Uniroyal Chemical donated some money towards this alleged flood control and recreational project back in the very early 1970s. If Uniroyal did so (?) it was because they would have been the immediate beneficiaries of a steady supply of water in the dry summer months to flush their toxic wastes downstream in the Canagagigue Creek towards the Grand River.

In my post of last Saturday I mentioned that I had requested a copy of the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) permit given to the Floradale Feed Mill allowing their construction of a storm water pond and discharge outlet to the Woolwich reservoir. In a timely manner I received a response from Beth Brown of the GRCA advising that she was unable to provide a copy of that permit and that I would need to submit a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. I responded immediately as follows:

"Ms. Brown: Thank you for the information that you were able to provide. As an aside I have wondered over the years if FOI legislation has been somehow reversed such that it has become simply one more hurdle to be overcome by citizens rather than an actual assist to greater openness and transparency resulting in greater cooperation and trust between government agencies and the public. I do hope to see the outlet installation completed before we receive any more heavy rainfalls."

Sincerely Alan Marshall


As an aside there was yet another rainfall last evening. The water in the storm water pond will gravity flow right towards the Lions Trail, across the surface of it and then fall directly ten feet down the dirt and ground embankment into the reservoir. It would seem obvious to me that a steel or concrete outlet should have been installed first not last in order to avoid erosion of both the Trail and of the embankment above the reservoir.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

ELMIRA PET PRODUCTS CONTINUE TO STINK OUT THE PLACE



So let me get this straight. Sandy Shantz representing Woolwich Township and the Ontario Ministry of Environment are involved in the apparently God awful odours coming from the former Heintz and former Martin Pet Food Plant here in Elmira. Now keep in mind that "God awful odours" are both my words, not local residents words as far as I know, and that odours are somewhat subjective. In other words maybe there are people out there who either have lost their sense of smell or even possibly enjoy the odour of pet food production. Others not so much.

You know based upon the local history of enforcement, moral and legal suasion, I bet that Elmira Pet Products are absolutely shaking in their boots knowing that Sandy and the MOE (MECP) are on the job. I'll bet that Bryan Cook and Mark Adams of Elmira Pet Products are terrified that either our municipal, regional or provincial governments are poised, ready, and willing to swoop down on them and politely demand, request, beg, and pray for forgiveness for bothering and interrupting them.

Seriously why should the company be even remotely concerned about food odours when their neighbour Uniroyal Chemical liberally sprayed Elmira residents for decades with toxic solvents and worse? It was finally a civil lawsuit from four Duke St. families (Machens, Posts, Fulchers and Chalmers) in the early 2000s that put an end to the ongoing toxic emissions.

This Sandy is the direct result of all levels of government being securely in bed with local business interests. The laws of the land simply are not enforced when there are employment and money interests involved. Talk till you are blue in the face and the company are likely to say the right things about what they are in the process of doing. The problem is the number of years that this company Martin, Heintz or Elmira Pet Products have not been good corporate neighbours with residents on George, High, Charles St. and more.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

MUST BE AN ELECTION ON THE HORIZON



Today's Waterloo Region Record has two new legislative announcements from our federal government. Amazing isn't it how governments can always come up, at election time especially, with some new desperately needed legislation. Today's articles are titled "Federal ban on single-use plastics would hit Stryofoam and straws" and "Ottawa passes legislation banning whale captivity". Yes I believe that both of these issues deserve federal attention however they deserved that attention literally years to decades ago. The current timing is opportunistic albeit better later than never.

The ban will take effect in 2021 and will affect plastic plates, cutlery, cups, straws, stir sticks and styrofoam cups and takeout containers. Plastic water bottles will not be included in the ban. Hmm. There will be however greater requirements for bottle producers to use recycled plastic in their bottles. Suggestions have been made that a 90% plastics recycling rate in Canada could lead to up to 42,000 new jobs.

The whale captivity legislation reflects not only an acknowledgement of the intelligence of whale species but also of the harm captivity does to them. Animal rights groups and others have been seeking an end to the commercial exploitation of these animals for a very long time.