Saturday, May 21, 2016


As recently suggested by a colleague it's all about conflicts of interest. Uniroyal Chemical did not have a conflict of interest. They are a corporation and one thing more important to them than reputation is money. A hit to their reputation by denying sole responsibility for the Elmira crisis and then accepting it, as the Ontario Ministry of Environment needed them to do, could be accomodated for the right price. Besides down the road if for some reason they wanted to polish up their image all they had to do was feed the knowledge they already had, to their friends, for release.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.) however were in a different quandry. The ongoing Environmental Appeal Board (EAB) hearing in 1991 was destroying any pretense they had left of being a proactive, professional organization, safely protecting Ontario citizens from the ravages of unbridled capitolism and industrialism. It was bad enough that Uniroyal were showing that they had been partners throughout Uniroyal's presence in Elmira. Partners that is, in pollution. The M.O.E. along with their predecessor, the Ontario Water Resources Commission, had virtually agreed to or acquiesced to each and every decision regarding in ground deposition of toxic wastes on the Uniroyal site.

Even worse, Jim Bradley the current Minister of the Environment, had sent a five man team to Elmira, with the explicit mandate to determine if there were any other possible sources of NDMA or other contaminants already in the Elmira Aquifers. Uniroyal Chemical already knew there were and had repeatedly publicly said so without naming them. Uniroyal had big plans to share the pain of this upcoming cleanup amongst government, citizens and the other local polluters.

The Ontario M.O.E. were shocked to find out that instead of them being on the moral (& legal?) hook for one bad apple (Uniroyal); that there were possibly five serious corporate contributers to the Elmira crisis. Remember that former Environment Ministers had stood up in the Ontario legislature and elsewhere, in regards to Uniroyal concerns, proudly proclaiming that the M.O.E. were on the job in Elmira and that the drinking wells were safe. The discovery of test results in November 1989 showing toxic contamination (NDMA) well above health standards available anywhere was a stunner.

What was needed was crisis management. How could the M.O.E. and their political masters in Toronto get out of this with their skins? First off could they sell the idea that nobody anywhere had ever heard of NDMA much less ever tested for it? It wasn't true but they were partially sucessful. Could they sell the false idea that it was but one chemical in the wells? Traces and more of industrial solvents had been showing up in the south wellfield for some time now and they'd kept that quiet. Uniroyal were the biggest, baddest and most obvious source in town. Elmira's water had tasted bad for a very long time and people were always pointing fingers at them. What would it take for Uniroyal to accept sole responsibility? What was their price? The sweetheart deal was born. More to follow on Monday or Tuesday.

No comments:

Post a Comment