Friday, June 29, 2012


Last evening in the Woolwich Council Chambers, CPAC held their monthly public meeting. It has been held the last Thursday of the month at 6 pm. and will so continue with next month's meeting on July 26. My overall impression is very positive concerning the job being done by all the CPAC members with special kudos to the Chair Dan Holt. He is fair and honest to all and is doing a great job. The size of the gallery is growing and partial credit for that must go to a few of the old CPAC members who have been coming out the last three meetings. The title above reflects my disappointment in the performance of both Chemtura and the Ontario M.O.E.

We had a powerpoint presentation from John Jackson of Great Lakes United. I had forgotten what a great speaker he is. He presented information about the currently in legislative process, Great Lakes Protection Act. Within it are what are referred to as geographically significant initiatives and apparently our Grand River is very much on the radar. It is the second largest source of nutrients (unwanted) to Lake Erie. The problem as readily admitted by John is the lack of financing to back up these proposed initiatives.

Both Josef and Dwighte of Chemtura advised CPAC that their off-site wells are and have been pumping great guns the last few weeks. It's about time and we will see in June's Progress Report although two wells were down for a week for maintenance. Steve Martindale (M.O.E.) was unavailable for this meeting and was replaced by a Wally Rosenberg. He clearly had been given minimal prior briefing and rather than point the finger at him or Steve I'll lay the blame squarely on senior staff at the M.O.E.. Quite frankly the M.O.E. looked amateurish, unprepared and incompetent. They were only exceeded in that regard by Chemtura who were only missing one of their three usuals namely Jeff Merriman. There were far too many deferrals to the July meeting on Agenda items that are old news not new. This included the 125 drums excavated last summer in Chemtura's south-west corner as well as Varnicolor's Union St. upcoming contaminated soil excavations and their former Lot 91 groundwater readings taken over a year ago.

Councillor and CPAC member Mark Bauman inquired as to whether money would be forthcoming from the M.O.E. to assist in hiring a peer reviewer for CPAC. The answer was I'll ask. There was significant discussion around the peer review done by R.W.D.I. out of Guelph dealing with Chemtura's site wide Air certificate of Approval. CPAC members including Ron, David, Mark as well as myself and Pat McLean spoke to it with Pat and Dwighte of Chemtura pushing hard for some kind of "acceptance", "approval" or even just a grudging CPAC has no objections statement/position from CPAC. I spoke strongly about what I have seen as a four year, mostly behind the scenes process, with this new CPAC receiving figuratively a whole five minutes of information. This included without any intended or implied criticism, the fact that Woolwich CAO, Dave Brenneman was in charge of the file for all of 2011, rather than CPAC. Under these circumstances I hope that CPAC will simply pass or say no comment and in future if Chemtura and friends want support/endorsement/approval/consent from CPAC they might want to make the whole process public and transparent. Again I found Chemtura's whining about the $10,000 they spent on RWDI's peer review just sooooo sad. Not!

The other CPAC members including Vivienne and Sebastian asked a number of clarifying questions on the alleged 2028 cleanup deadline as well as on Lot 91 and funding. Ron Campbell specifically pointed out the significance of my Delegation to last night's CPAC which dealt with the depths of the test pits which Chemtura had dug on their south-east corner (GP1 & 2). My findings indicated that the most obvious soil contamination based upon soil gas readings, strong chemical odours and discolored soil was deeper than Chemtura's test pits. Chemtura wish to proceed with some very shallow excavation of Dioxins and DDT while capping the rest. Again it's all about the money not the environment or health of the community. David Marks, hydrogeologist and CPAC member, in his quiet and calm manner clearly stated that he is not confident that the 2028 cleanup is possible.

There was discussion by Ron around the SWAT (soil, water, air, technical) team and although Richard Clausi, Henry Regier and myself have all been conscripted (cheerfully); Ron is looking for more volunteers. Today is Richard's last day of work as he is retiring as Head of the Math department at Elmira District Secondary School (EDSS). AS a result he was working last evening finishing everything off at school. Henry by the way introduced John Jackson at the start of the meeting as he has known him for nearly thirty years. Finally under New Business, Chair Dan Holt showed photographs of badly maintained monitoring wells around Elmira. By law and regulation wells drilled directly into aquifers must be covered and securely locked at the surface to prevent intentional or otherwise contamination from entering them. These particular wells have been in disrepair for a decade even though a year ago the Ontario M.O.E. took water samples from them for testing. All in all CPAC are proceeding nicely despite disappointing efforts by Chemtura and the Ministry of the Environment.

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