Friday, January 13, 2017


The best case scenario is that the Woolwich Observer have simply responded weakly to citizens' requests, including mine, to give us more coverage of the nastiest, most far reaching and longest lasting environmental disaster of many here in Waterloo Region. I posted yesterday regarding their article in this week's Observer titled "New hand on tiller to navigate Elmira's groundwater morass". The outgoing Chair of TAG, Dr. Richard Jackson, was quoted as stating that Woolwich Township "...had no expertise available to it.". I knew that this quote was not intended the way it came out. I felt that perhaps Dr. Jackson was referring strictly to hydrogeological expertise and perhaps he was unaware that the last CPAC had David Marks as a voting member. David is a certified hydrogeologist who works with Burnside Consultants in Guelph.

While I was on the right track, in fact Dr. Jackson when referring to "no expertise" in his phone interview with the Observer was referring to no expertise in remediation issues and that there were no experts with remediation engineering experience available to Woolwich Township. This distinction either went over the reporter's head at the time or later in her article. Dr. Jackson is an honourable man and he had expressed appreciation for CPAC's efforts on a few occasions at TAG meetings over the last fifteen months. Also he has since made it very clear to myself and CPAC members that the community including CPAC accomplished much while facing difficult circumstances dealing with the present regulatory regieme. Dr. Jackson also emphasized his respect for the many environmental professionals on CPAC, past and present.

There was another peculiar paragraph in Whitney Neilson's article in yesterday's Observer. She was talking about antagonism between volunteers and those who were newer to the issues. This stumped me yesterday and still does. It concerns me however as it might indicate some kind of attempt by the Observer, similar to Woolwich Township, to throw mud on Woolwich volunteers who have freely spent
their time on Chemtura contamination issues, on behalf of all Woolwich residents .

Or as indicated in the first paragraph perhaps this poor write up regarding Dr. Jackson's words is simply the inevitable consequence of the Observer's refusal for many years to cover Chemtura Canada contamination issues here in Elmira, Ontario. How on earth can they remotely expect even the best reporters to cover complicated environmental issues, conversations and data with absolutely zero background experience? This is absolutely not a criticism of the individual reporter. Overall she did a good job but can you imagine how much better, with fewer errors, omissions and out of context quotes it would have been, if she had been assigned to even a few CPAC, RAC or TAG public meetings over the last few years?

CPAC members have all received Dr. Jackson's clarifications and I believe that they as a group will decide what action to take. I expect that as a first step the Observer will be given the opportunity to retract or correct their errors in this story. keep in mind I am not a believer that "no good deed goes unpunished". The Observer stepped up and published a story of importance to Woolwich residents. For that they deserve credit. Corrections and clarifications are part and parcel of the newspaper business however and I expect them to respond appropriately, if and when approached by a CPAC spokesperson such as Dr. Dan Holt or Dr. Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach.

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