Friday, May 20, 2016


One of the best lines of the night came from Jim Germann of Elmira Pump and it initailly went right over my head. I was talking about concentrations of solvents in 1991 in the hundreds of thousands of parts per billion in the surficial aquifer at Varnicolor and he responded that actually there were concentrations in the ounces per gallon. When I clued in that he was serious I responded ahh as in free phase solvents (NAPLS) in the aquifer. Jim agreed.

There were about a dozen people present in Council Chambers for last night's public meeting to discuss the Risk Assessment for Elmira Pump which is located on the former Varnicolor Chemical property. These included Woolwich CAO Brenneman and Sandy Shantz. Sandy actually picked up on the deep contamination with Varnicolor solvents in the Elmira drinking water aquifer (Municipal Upper). Both she and I expressed concerns and opinions that they should be remediated if possible. Keith Metzger of Peritus Environmental seemed reluctant although he admitted that to date Chemtura have not expressed any disagreement. Mr. Metzger has stated that he will take the idea of pumping and treating the deeper aquifer forward for discussion.

Public consultation on this contaminated site in Elmira has been abysmal for the last twenty years. All requests for data, studies and reports have been rebuffed by all parties including the Ontario Ministry of the Environment when requested and endorsed by the old CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee). Further requests were made last evening only to be told that the report of the Risk Assessment will end up possibly in the Elmira library. I want a hard copy for myself plus seven more CPAC (Citizens Public Advisory Committee) members. Projector screens and looking at Tables over other's shoulders is not in depth study of data except apparently here in Elmira, Ontario.

The surface soils plus from six to fifteen feet at the surface of the old Varnicolor site has been remediated both by source removal and by twenty years of groundwater collection and treatment. The rest has been barely looked at via two deeper monitoring wells namely MW25 at 15 metres depth and MW41 at 30 metres depth. Both wells have recorded hits of Varnicolor solvents such as TCE, vinyl chloride, TCA, DCE, DCA and Toluene. NDMA has been tested for once at MW25 over the last two decades. You will not find that which you don't test for both regularily and spatially (ie. different wells and soil samples).

I tend to agree that there is little or no risk at the surface any longer from Varnicolor's former gross contamination. That being so, non residential redevelopment seems to be completely appropriate at this location.

I had been advised during the meeting to check with Peritus at the end for further information. Ms. Jensen showed me Tables that stated that all six of Varnicolor's solvent contributions to the drinking water aquifer were above drinking water standards. That is STUNNING! Twenty-six years ago the Ontario M.O.E. claimed that there was no contamination on this site and that everything was monitored and supervised by them. Later they admitted to minor shallow contamination only while adamantly denying any possibilty that Varnicolor had contributed to the destruction of the Elmira drinking water aquifers. THEY LIED!

During the meeting I found myself in agreement with Sandy Shantz's comments and questions. At the end of the meeting I suggested to her that it was much better when we were on the same side regarding environmental issues. At that point she and Woolwich's loyal mascot Dave Brenneman buttonholed me about my statements criticizing almost everything Woolwich. Provoking me got them a lecture regarding Chemtura/M.O.E. dishonesty and lying as well as how Sandy and Council lied and backstabbed Woolwich volunteers on CPAC last year. Then I simply ended the argument and walked over to Ms. Jensen of Peritus for the promised further data.

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