Saturday, July 31, 2010


WOW! And I thought that Gwynne Dyer was merely a miltary historian. His column in today's Woolwich Observer is incredible. Titled "We're nearing the point of no return", it paints a bleak environmental picture. According to him this is primarily due to political corruption. Mr. Dyer describes the conditions and timing which will cause the warming to become "runaway". Apparently we are perilously close to that point now. I have said it before and will repeat it now. Here in this province and country we have incredible technology and research. Here in Waterloo Region we have the same expertise including the University of Waterloo Groundwater Research Institute. Why do you think with twenty-one years of UPAC and CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) under our belts that we haven't been publicly calling on that expertise? The reason is simple. Those in charge (politicians - municipal, regional & provincial) don't want their expertise. There's too much chance that scientific knowledge regarding groundwater cleanup could mess up the private "deals" that have been made between industry and governments.

Remember in regards to corruption - "Think globally and act locally".

Friday, July 30, 2010


Today's K-W Record (pg. A3) has an article by Shannon Montgomery titled "Fish anomalies raise red flags". These fish anomalies are primarily to do with unusual gender distributions, namely as high as 90% of the fish are female. At the same time the researchers have concerns that specific chemicals entering rivers are capable of not just feminizing fish but may have human health effects including cancer. For me the most surprising revelation was that these gender "disturbances in fish populations were greater downstream from cities than upstream and were most notable around several major cattle feedlots". Clearly as a student of industrial contaminated sites it isn't the downstream of cities effects which surprised me, it's the downstream of cattle feedlots.

The O'Connor Report after the Walkerton tragedy emphasized a multi barrier approach to water safety. In other words putting all our eggs into one basket, such as final treatment only, is very risky. Far better is final treatment AND source protection of the water. This specifically means in the Walkerton case, removal of cattle feedlots and bathrooms located right beside drinking wells, rivers used for drinking water etc.. The Walkerton case dealt primarily with E-coli courtesy of cattle. Here in Waterloo Region we had an outbreak of Cryptosporidium which is also courtesy of cattle. In the early 90's, hundreds were made ill and a few people died.
Therefore what has surprised me here is the linkage now of cattle with chemicals which apparently are hormone mimickers affecting gender distributions. I don't know if this has anything to do with medications or antibiotics which the cattle might receive or possibly even chemical enhancements to improve milk production in dairy cattle. Regardless, as I've mentioned before, Woolwich Township farms along the Conestoga, Grand and Canagagigue are contributing to these problems.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


For the last three months that I’ve been running this website I have very strongly focused on all things environmental, especially as relevant to Woolwich Township . Without any doubt I have been unable or unwilling to hide my contempt for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment . On occasion I have severely criticized the Region of Waterloo. On at least a couple of occasions I’ve made pointed references to two CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) members.
Today I’m going a little further. Today I’m making a public prediction regarding an upcoming environmental/political announcement. I wish that it didn’t include the political scenario but unfortunately the two are intertwined. This prediction I have made privately to a couple of close friends and colleagues during the last six months plus. I have also shared with them (and 1 other) a couple of incidents which as is often the case only make sense in hindsight. These couple of incidents, and one in particular, will remain confidential for now and hopefully forever, dependant on the behaviour/desperation of others. I’ve been studying the facts for the last 2 ½ years, trying to understand the motives and behaviour of two individuals. I don’t claim to be the sharpest tool in the drawer, especially when it comes to human psychology. I’m also embarrassed to admit that I was naïve and that I was suckered.
First of all, here is the announcement .
This alleged breakthrough unfortunately will be no such thing. What it will be is an attempted public relations coup for Chemtura and a springboard into the Mayor’s chair for Pat McLean. The “breakthrough” will probably be along the lines of some kind of agreement on a long range cleanup plan. This CLERP (comprehensive long range plan) has been in the works and discussed since 2002. The company using a long litany of excuses (new owners/bankruptcy etc.) have basically piddled around for years.
Pat McLean has been pushing CPAC in the direction she’s wanted including sub committees and private meetings since the early 2000’s. She got my loyalty by agreeing to the July 2003 document “CPAC Request For Action”. This document was a request/demand for removal of on-site buried wastes including DNAPLs and was unanimously passed by CPAC. Again I was naïve thinking that wow, now that it’s been unanimously passed, we’re all on the same page and side. Fat chance. This document has withered and gone absolutely nowhere.
Pat correctly determined that Gerry Heideburt and Ron Ormson were solely interested in air issues at CPAC. Ron even advised me years ago that he wasn’t keen on removal of buried wastes. Pat also knew that the composition of the Soil & Water Sub- Committee wasn’t written in stone because of age and hearing difficulties with Fred and Henry. Both of these gentlemen were strongly in support of removal of on-site contamination. Chemtura was not. After Fred and Henry were no longer active at CPAC that just left yours truly. I didn’t even see the knife in the back coming. I especially didn’t see it coming from Susan Bryant whom I had long considered a colleague and a friend. Unfortunately there are people in this world who are more interested in a victory than in the actual results. In other words a pretend victory will do just fine. Pat McLean is and always has been a politician. Again the best results come a far second to the appearance of same. With me gone from CPAC and with all the new members coming (and going) , Pat and Susan knew that they could take CPAC into an agreement with Chemtura as long as they addressed air issues to keep Gerry and Ron on board. Meanwhile with me gone, soil and groundwater cleanup (especially DNAPLs) are finished. Pat with Susan’s and Chemtura’s help is ready to run for Mayor. Everybody’s happy and the environment gets it in the ear once again.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how all the significant hearings, dates and meetings are scheduled for after the upcoming municipal election? Think about all the ongoing local Woolwich environmental proposals including the O.M.B. hearing for the Interim Control Bylaw (Montrose Pit), the Safety-Kleen appeal, Woolwich Bio-En, Hunsberger Pit, Hawk Ridge Homes etc. All of these proposals/applications have been ongoing for years now, and our Woolwich Council have stickhandled nicely around and through them. That being said the best stickhandling they have done is to ensure, to the best of their abilities, that they as a Council aren't committed for or against, until AFTER the upcoming election. Now that's leadership!

Regarding the latest Letter to the Editer, from Ed Speers of the Elmira Bio Fuel Citizen's Committee, I wasn't initially going to comment. This letter is in today's Elmira Independent (pg. 5). For me the main news is a word of mouth conversation with a neighbour of a biogas plant in England. Allegedly the odour is bad and bad at quite a distance. The reason I reconsidered posting a comment on an anonymous opinion from England is my recollection that the proponent here in Elmira felt comfortable in using unsubstantiated positive references from abroad to bolster his position.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Something is very wrong with this picture. Elmira residents, thirteen years before Walkerton residents, were on the receiving end of an environmental travesty and tragedy. Many of us who were and are deeply involved with this grotesque government and industry failure received assurances from politicians and government agencies (M.O.E.) that they had learned their lessons. Among other things they would involve the public more. They would keep us informed of ALL environmental matters pertaining to Elmira and Woolwich Township. UPAC (now CPAC) was to be a vehicle for information sharing. Instead it's become a validation for M.O.E. relaxation of monitoring and environmental control of Chemtura (Uniroyal).

Consider the following a public test of all our knowledge of current Elmira environmental events: Did you know that five years ago CRA, consultants to Chemtura were convicted of an environmental offence dealing with discharge of Trichloroethylene contaminated water to the Grand River?
Did you know that Trylon in Elmira were convicted on three counts for environmental offences in 2006?
Did you know that the former Strauss fuels site across from the former Martin's Pet Food was the subject of a M.O.E. Control Order back in 2004?
Did you know that prior to that cleanup there was an Appeal of the Control Order which was then sucessfully renegotiated, although the ERT (Environmental Review Tribunal), after the fact, assurred the public that their interests had been protected. Really?
Did you know that currently the M.O.E. are attempting to get Elmira Pump, who are located at Union & Howard Ave. (formerly part of Varnicolor Chemical), to get their on site monitoring well records up to date?
Did you know that the Elmira citizens who brought Varnicolor down in the first place, DESPITE M.O.E. protection, are being refused ALL groundwater monitoring data for both the Union St. site and the LOT 91 site?
Did you know that the Environmental registry via the EBR (Environmental Bill of Rights) is supposed to list all Control Orders, Certificates of Approval, Amendments to same, Charges, Environmental Proposals etc. ? Yesterday I searched on the Environmental Registry for all the environmental proposals ongoing in Woolwich Township and found nothing. Either it's not there or it's inaccessible to the average, non computer expert Joe, like me.

INFORMATION IS POWER and our governments don't want citizens to have that power.

Monday, July 26, 2010


This report was done on behalf of the proponents of the Woolwich Bio Energy Fuels by Conestoga Rovers & Assoc. The completion date of the report was January 15, 2010. Here is the link to it.

Pg. 1 "The purpose of a hydrogeological assessment is to develop a clear conceptual model of the hydrogeology and the potential for human health and ecological risks at a particular location." This report is an embarassment and CRA should be ashamed of themselves. It fails utterly to address the specific hydrogeology at the proposed site and hence it virtually ignores any potential for either human health or ecological risks. What CRA have done is to simply borrow literature and figures dealing primarily with Uniroyal/Chemtura and apply them to Woolwich Bio-En. My God I hope that Chuck Martin and friends got this report as a freebie because that's all it's worth.

Not a single on-site borehole, test pit or monitoring well was drilled or dug. Figure 4 which CRA claims is a Schematic Hydrogeologic Model of the Bio-En site is nothing but an old CROMPTON (not Chemtura) retread. What's worse the figure shows a cross-section of Elmira from Uniroyal/Chemtura in the north down past the former south wellfield (E7/E9) beside Voisin Motors. In other words, Woolwich Bio-En isn't even on the map. This figure does NOT extend far enough north to indicate the sub surface of the proposed Bio-En site! Figure 3a, 3b and 3c show sub surface cross sections respectively 675 metres, 400 metres and 1000 metres away from the Bio-En site. Again CRA have simply borrowed wells used in the hydrogeologic investigation of the Elmira aquifer which are hundreds or more metres away from the site and pretended that they are relevant. They are not!

What is my conclusion? Clearly Ontario Regulation 359/09, Renewable Energy Approval is a sham. The Province of Ontario have rushed into this while putting up window dressing in order to pretend due diligence. This alleged Hydrogeological Assessment is just that, window dressing and not even very good window dressing.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This is a link to a fabulous report titled "Review of the State of Knowledge for the Waterloo and Paris/Galt Moraines". This report explains how the geology in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph was formed. It explains simply and clearly how groundwater is stored, recharged and discharged. There is a separate link to the Figures which are also excellent. Click on "The Report figures are available as a separate file 17 MB." I especially recommend for study the following half dozen figures: 3.2.1 , 3.2.2 , 3.2.3 , 3.3.6 , 5.3.1 , 5.3.2 .

The text of this report (ie. the 1st link) was an eye opener to me. Even after twenty years of study I learned that groundwater in very coarse gravel can travel up to 100 metres per day. This compares to literature I've read and what we've been told at CPAC, namely that even in gravel, groundwater might travel up to 150 metres IN A YEAR! Although I've known for years that the information we've been sold by Chemtura's consultants and the M.O.E. regarding "impermeable" clay aquitards is nonsense, nevertheless knowing that water can flow through aquitards at a centimetre a day or less is of value. Over a year groundwater can therefore penetrate approximately ten feet through an aquitard. This is the kind of data that should have been made available to all old and new CPAC members years ago.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Ed Speers of the Elmira Bio Fuel Citizens Committee has a letter to the Editer in the Sat. July 24/10 Woolwich Observer on Pg. 10. Tomorrow, hopefully when it's on line, I will post a link to it. Ed raises two points which particularily get my attention. The first is the size of this project. This will be the biggest one in Canada! Don't get me wrong. The time will come when Woolwich will be happy to have power generation within their borders. I forsee a future where nuclear and fossil fuel are finished and local generation will be the mainstay. Within Elmira proper and next to a residential subdivision however is not the way to go about this energy revolution.
Secondly Ed asks the question regarding the non eroding of property values "Should we expect any less?" My answer is good luck. Look around at the proposed gravel pit(s) in West Montrose as well as the two pits proposed near Winterbourne/Conestogo. Look at the hell Duke St. residents went through a decade ago. Look and remember Rothsay Concentrates and Scavenger Recyling. Varnicolor Chemical stunk of solvents off their property and yet the M.O.E. denied and covered up for them until affidavits, photographs, testimony , video and years old groundwater reports finally became public.
Sulco used to have noxious air releases. My understanding and hope is that they have radically improved over the last decade and a half.

Neither this Council nor any past one have ever given more than lip service to protecting citizens health or property values. Committed local citizens whether in West Montrose, Conestogo/Winterbourne or Elmira are the ones who have always carried the load. This will not change.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Two days ago I received the monthly Chemtura Canada Progress Report- June 2010. Despite the above headline concerning NDMA, in fact there has been relatively good news on the hydraulic containment front for some time now. Both the on-site and off-site pumping are at long time historical highs.

Especially considering the above average rainfall and hence higher presumed flow in the "Gig", it is very disappointing to be measuring 40 parts per trillion (ppt.) of NDMA in the "Gig". The drinking water standard is 9 ppt. This is described in both the text and in Appendix C.

Appendix B concerns MISA (municipal industrial strategy for abatement) data. MISA outflows to the "Gig" are supposed to test storm runoff and cooling water discharge. Unfortunately for decades they've also measured Uniroyal/Chemtura discharges of chemicals to the CanagaGIGue Creek. This June 2010 report lists discharges of Lindane, Aniline, Carboxin and Benzothiazole.

On page 6 of 7, of the text there is a Table described as Trend Analysis Results. Conestoga Rovers (consultants) are masters of good news. Of six monitoring wells they indicate four have decreasing trends of Chlorobenzene and one of NDMA. What they fail to clearly point out is that they are comparing today (2010), a period of very high pumping, with 2008 when most of the On & Off site wells were shut down for the Ammonia Treatment System refit & expansion. As a result Chemtura's on site buried wastes, contaminants and DNAPLS were allowed to flow off-site, essentially unchecked, during 2008. What is however interesting is the expected reduction in nearby off-site Chlorobenzene (4 of 6) compared to only one reduction out of six wells for NDMA. This I believe is merely more evidence that there are other sources of off-site NDMA. The off-site sources of Chlororbenzene are further downgradient (southwards) whereas, as confirmed by Alan Deal of Conestoga Rovers via teleconference call at the last CPAC public meeting, there is a monitoring well west of Chemtura near the former old Shirt Factory with historically high NDMA readings, in the Municipal Aquifer.

The next public CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) meeting is scheduled for 9 am. in the Woolwich Council chambers on Monday August 30, 2010. The next secret CPAC meeting, time and place, is unknown to me, you and the unwashed masses by the choice of the CPAC Chair, Pat McLean, and hence probably also at the choice of Woolwich Council.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


This May 7, 2009 Draft Report was mentioned in the Elmira Advocate last Friday July 16/10. Here is the link to the online report. This report is a cooperative effort of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) and the Ontario Stone Sand and Gravel Association (OSSGA).

What was requested by Puslinch and North Dumphries Townships was a moratorium on below water table gravel extraction until a comprehensive, scientific study was done to determine if any cumulative effects occur affecting either ground or surface water within the Grand River Watershed.

Unfortunately this is not what they received. Pg.2 states "After some discussion and preliminary analysis, the feasibility of undertaking a cumulative effects assessment for the entire Grand River watershed was re-evaluated for a number of reasons including lack of resources, data and science required to conduct a comprehensive study. Instead a set of principles to guide future dialogue and action was developed collectively by representatives from MNR, OSSGA and the Grand River Conservation Authority and are included in Appendix A."

This is exactly what you get with politicized bodies in bed with industry. Puslinch and North Dumphries never had a hope of reining in the aggregate industry in this province. The Principles in Appendix A are nothing more than mom, apple pie, cookies and milk principles. There is no empirical understanding of the damage we are doing to our watershed through aggregate extraction and that is exactly how the people in charge want it. Money rules but bullshit paves the way.

As per yesterday's Elmira Independent, the Ontario Municipal Board will be starting their hearing on October 28/10 regarding the Interim Control Bylaw passed by Woolwich Council. The Murray Group have appealed this by-law which puts the area around West Montrose and the covered bridge off limits for one year while the Township do a CHL study (Cultural Heritage Lanndscape). The Murray Group (gravel & asphalt) have an interest in the property beside the proposed Capitol Paving pit in West Montrose.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Not according to NIOSH, CDC and OSHA in the U.S. (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Center for Disease Control, Occupational Safety and Health Assoc.)
"Inhalation of butter flavouring chemical mixtures, including diacetyl, has been associated with severe obstructive lung disease popularily known as "popcorn lung". In many symtomatic individuals exposed to flavouring who have undergone lung biopsy, an irreversible type of lung damage called constrictive bronchiolitis has been found."

To date there appears to be no absolute proof of damage to consumers although sensible precautions are advised such as good ventilation when engaged in cooking or popping of products containing diacetyl and other butter flavouring chemicals.

What specific reason could I have for advising Woolwich Township residents of this peculiar health hazard? First of all , those with a Mennonite background such as my wife and in-law's family, are serious consumers of popcorn products. Secondly and here it gets very weird; all of us here in Elmira have heard of the many toxic chemicals dispersed into our environment from Uniroyal (Chemtura). The more well known include NDMA, Dioxins, Agent Orange, DDT, Chlorobenzene and a slew of others. Well you guessed it, up until a couple of years ago, Uniroyal manufactured Diacetyl for the artificial butter flavouring of popcorn. For years the odour could be readily identified by local residents and the irony is that we all thought at the time , oh thank goodness it's only butter flavouring. I have no personal knowledge of the manufacturing processes involved nor of the ventilation around tubs and tanks of diacetyl. I would suggest that long term employees who were involved with diacetyl and who have breathing problems should get reexamined by their doctors.

Finally I received a letter in the mail yesterday from Chemtura U.S. advising me that Chemtura Canada is seeking legal protection from potential lawsuits regarding diacetyl production in Canada. A phone call to Chemtura (Elmira) advised me that the Canadian operations are secure and that their Chapter 11 (Bankruptcy Act) protection is simply to ensure that their legal rights are maintained. The irony of butter flavouring causing these headaches and health issues versus all the other potential toxins, can hardly be lost on anyone.

Monday, July 19, 2010


This proposed pit is located on the west side of the Grand River just south of West Montrose, opposite Winterbourne and just north of Conestoga and the Hunder Pit. Talk about a triple whammy and why I suspect that there is no imminent need for the sand and gravel, it's just a case of the players grabbing their piece of the pie, at the expense of the locals and with the blessing of our government.

This proposal is for a 200,000 Tonne per year pit with total above water table reserves of only 800,000 Tonnes. Of interest in their Appendix B online Hydrogeological Report is the following: "the site likely contains substantial below water table reserves.". Hmm! The depth to the water table is similar to the other proposed pits in the area namely 4 to 5 metres below grade.The authors claim that the excavation will remain 1.5 metres above the water table again similar to the Hunder Pit. The claim is also made that this pit is actually good for the environment by increasing groundwater recharge via what I call the "bathtub" effect. Essentially you make a big hole in the ground and thus less rainfall flows offsite into the river and more ponds on site and then infiltrates. On pg. 10 they even go so far as to suggest the pit is good for the environment by displacing agriculture which has contaminated the shallow groundwater with nitrates.

The authors of this report, Mitz & Associates deserve full marks for brass. The one thing this pit may have going for it is that fewer people will be harmed and inconvenienced by it than most pits.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


This is a continuation of my July 13/10 posting. The Report I've been studying has a sub-title: "Planning Summary Report April 3, 2009". For the link to this report please scroll down to my Tuesday July 13/10 posting. Either putting these technical reports on-line or allowing interested persons to come in to the Township offices to read them is grossly inadequate. Hard copy versions of any and all technical reports should be available to all who so request. Public consultation and public access should mean that either neighbours, stakeholders or the very few and far between concerned citizens, should be able to invest their time and experience studying these reports under ideal conditions ie. at home with reference works nearby and without a degree in computer science. I found this report very awkward and difficult to download and I still haven't found the often mentioned Appendix B (hydrogeological assessment). In the text of this report namely pages 59, 60 & 61 there are summaries of the hydrogeological assessment. These do not include Borehole Logs , Stratigraphic Cross-Sections etc..

The following terms and expressions are used throughout the report: attenuate, mitigate, minimize, best management practices. Nowhere does this report say or even hint that there could possibly be any deal breaking issues, impacts or damages to either people, wildlife or the overall environment. Clearly all is well in the universe and there is nothing that can't be fixed according to the bought and paid for client driven consultants.

I see lots of promises and good ideas. I see zero accountability. I see zero realistic enforcement if the proponent decides to stickhandle around these ideas and promises. For twenty years I've seen the Ontario Ministry of the Environment issue Certificate of Approvals and Control Orders on industry large and small. Generally it is voluntary compliance which means that if it suits the industry they will follow the terms and conditions and if it doesn't suit they won't, and they will get away with it. Both government and industry have abused the trust given to them by the citizens of this country.

My last point is this. Even if Hunder Dev't follow these conditions to the letter, their neighbours who have invested their money, time and hearts into their homes will be far the worse off for this gravel pit. Clearly this is of zero significance to our government. People have no significance to them, other than to legitimize government every now and then at the polls.

Friday, July 16, 2010


From my reading of exerpts from the Aggregate Resources Act it appears to me that although there is a requirement to show that the resource (aggregate) is economically viable ie. it exists in a sufficient quantity and is reasonably accessible there is however no requirement to show a current market demand. I find this a little strange. As we in Woolwich have had no less than 5 gravel pit applications in the last couple of years and as there seems to be no "sunset" clauses for closing these pits, is it possible that what we are seeing is simply a race by various contractors, pavers, road builders and landscapers to tie up as many gravel and sand resources as possible? If I were for example bidding on a road reconstruction wouldn't I want a pit (as in MY pit) as close as possible to the project in order to lower my costs and maximize my profit?

Of the 5 applications, four of them are along the Grand River. From north of West Montrose and Hwy #86 the first is on the west side; we then have in descending order north to south the Montrose Pit (Capitol Paving), the Jigs Hollow Pit (Kuntz Landscaping), and the Hunder Development (Hunsberger Pit). The Capitol pit and the Hunder Pit are on the east side of the Grand River and the Kuntz (Jigs Hollow) is on the west side. The fifth pit is north of Elmira on Sandy Hills Dr..

In regards to yesterday's posting about the Region of Waterloo's concerns with gravel pits by Mannheim and Wilmot Township, apparently at least two rural townships a few years ago expressed similar major concerns. Puslinch and North Dumphries raised the issue at the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA). As a result a report titled "Cumulative Effects Best Practices Paper for Below Water Table Aggregate Operations within the Grand River Watershed" was researched and written. Here is the link. More to follow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


OK the first 3 words of the heading are a touch sarcastic. Seriously though I am shocked by this story in yesterday's K-W Record. Here is the link to it. The ramifications of this are incredible. First of all the Region of Waterloo are clearly saying that removing sand and gravel, also known as overburden is not good for groundwater quality. Secondly they are focusing on the Mannheim West wells as well as the Wilmot wells used by the Region. It seems pretty obvious that if sand and gravel extraction near one wellfield is bad then clearly it can't be good near any wellfields.

I think that the province are showing their true colours here. Keep in mind that the Ministry of the Environment is an Ontario provincial ministry. How can you have a province (government) give absolute priority to the aggregate industry without exemptions based on environmental factors? How can this same province pretend that they have any true environmental ethics or priorities?

I have no doubt that some kind of a deal will be done and it will be done out of the public view. Nevertheless kudos should be given to the Region of Waterloo. Imagine any level of government actually digging in their heels and saying no to a higher tier government.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


"Most people would tend to agree that common sense should govern all aspects of life, which makes the need to wear a sweater at work to fend off the chill of air -conditioning quite frankly absurd."
written by Chuck Kuepfer in today's Elmira Independent Pg.6

This article gives us an overview of power (or the lack thereof) issues in other areas of the world. From Iraq to Africa we realize that a minimum of electricity is a necessity but that the way we waste it here is not.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I have just started examining this proposed gravel pit between Golf Course Rd. in Conestogo and Katherine St. just south of Winterbourne. Here is the link to the online report I'm currently looking at.

This pit in total surface area is much larger than the Capitol Paving pit, proposed in West Montrose. To be fair however, my understanding is that the Capitol Paving pit will be followed by the Murray pit right beside it and then possibly a third pit. These pits share similarities in that in my opinion the gravel deposit isn't all that thick but it is extremely close to the surface and hence extremely accessible. What is similarily appalling is the legislation which enables both the destruction of prime agricultural land, the environment and the enjoyment of one's home and property. Perhaps more Canadian citizens need to observe the "negotiation" style of native Canadians in order to amend this draconian, grossly biased legislation in favour of the aggregates industry, at the expense of the environment and individual rights.

Monday, July 12, 2010


My previous posting (Sat.) has the link to this report. Something is very fishy . As per Fig. 9 there is on average only five metres (15 ft.) thickness of sand and gravel on this site. Of course they want to excavate all of it. Fig. 11 shows the final plan of the rehabilitated site. Basically they are constructing a huge bathtub fifteen feet deep into the surrounding terrain with the outlet (plug) on the west side directly into the Grand River.
To me the quantities of sand and gravel appear minimal for a commercial operation, as per their data presented. At the same time they are building a bathtub, which with the high water table and after extraction no sand or gravel for drainage, will turn into a mudhole. All of this combined will cause the replaced surface topsoil to erode downslope into the wetlands and the river. This silt (eroded topsoil) will continue the damage being done throughout the Grand River valley.

An aquifer by definition consists of groundwater flowing through permeable materials such as sand and gravel. An aquitard (till unit) sitting below the aquifer as in this case inhibits downward groundwater flow and promotes horizantal flow to the river. Removing the aquifer materials does not remove the groundwater. The groundwater will sit on top of the aquitard (till) in the pore spaces in the surface cover (topsoil). This saturated topsoil will become a muddy mess. Comparing Fig.4 (till elevation) & Fig.11 with Fig. 7 (water table elevation) clearly shows that the water table surface is above the aquitard (till) and practically at the surface of the final rehabilitated site (Fig. 11).

Something is very wrong here. I smell either incompetence or deception . Aside from the myriad of other reasons not to build this pit in West Montrose, my opinion is that these plans are technically unsound.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Here is a link to two different hydrogeological reports done on behalf of Capitol Paving. Both reports aren't satisfied with simply saying that their new gravel pit will do no environmental harm but suggest they will actually increase recharge and thus enhance the water table elevation.

For nearly a decade I walked my dog down Letson Dr. through the proposed gravel pit. When I read that it was a below water table proposal I wasn't surprised as with my own eyes I've seen how high the water table is. There are areas just to the immediate west of Letson Dr. which have groundwater right at the ground surface when we've had a wet spring. Lo and behold however the hydroG reports talk about only 1.8% of the pit being below the water table. REALLY? They wouldn't lie to us would they?

Generally below water table pits receive more scrutiny and public opposition than above water table pits. Both kinds are environmentally damaging, the former more so and the latter a little less so. I am still studying these two reports but it seems clear to me that there is an intentional disconnect between what the hydrogeologist is saying and what the pit operators are going to be doing. Large quantities of sand and gravel are readily available just below the water table and I for one don't believe for a second that Capitol Paving are not going to excavate them. This will require a minor amendment that they will "discover" the necessity for, in the field.

Friday, July 9, 2010


What a pleasure to be able to have a green idea/ product which is a win-win for literally everybody. There are no losers including neighbours being expected to accept hidden costs for the benefit of either individuals or the general public (see Wed. July 7 post re Bio-En). The Independent Weekender has an article titled "NextEnergy launches new website". I checked out this website and it refreshed my understanding of geothermal energy. The homeowner wins and the public wins with lower energy demands. The only negative I saw was an apparent backing off by the Federal government in their promotion of this form of energy. Surely it's in the interests of all levels of government to get on this particular bandwagon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Are they for real? The short answer is no. I learned this 15 years ago in regards to an Environmental Assessment at Safety- Kleen in Breslau. Om Bhargava, Elie Martel and Jim Robb were the panel members. Two out of three didn't have the foggiest clue in regards to hydrogeology and as well Elie Martel was downright hostile when I questioned the motives of the Ont. M.O.E..

Similarily in the fall of 2007 & sring of 2008 I had to jump through hoops and submit hundreds of pages of technical evidence merely to get Leave (permission) to Appeal a proposed Certificate of Approval. It was assinine and then based on nonsense and the decision maker ignoring several submissions, was I denied my so called right to appeal a badly flawed document.

All this being said, the provincial Cabinet and the M.O.E. have to have the occasional legitimate appeal or review, otherwise everyone would soon know the system was a fraud. An example would be the Uniroyal Environmental Appeal Boards hearings in 1991 and 1992.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


This is a link to a report titled “Odour Study Report Woolwich Bio-En Anaerobic Digestion Facility, Elmira Ontario. I’ve read this report in its’ entirety and I am impressed. The building will be under negative pressure and all trucks will be unloaded indoors. These incoming trucks will all be covered and two other interesting aspects are the automated backup flare for burning off any excess biogas as well as the use of a biofilter to treat the air.
It is doubly unfortunate for the proponents that what appears to be a very sound idea, from so many different environmental aspects, is so terribly tainted from the get go. It is tainted by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and it is also tainted by the authors of the report, namely Conestoga Rovers & Assoc. . Their name is not on the outside of their report but from the second page is on the bottom right hand corner throughout. I had hoped to read this report with an open mind but frankly the instant I saw CRA I was appalled. I have spent twenty years reading their client driven drivel on behalf of Uniroyal (Chemtura) until I can stomach no more. Am I biased. You bet I am. Do I acknowledge their technical competence? Absolutely! Chuck Martin what is the matter with you? You attended CPAC long enough, years ago to know better. Are you trying to provoke opposition?

I received a brochure in my mailbox today from the citizens’ committee . Although professionally done, clearly it is an emotional attempt to raise opposition to “BIO WASTE”. “STOP THE STINK” is very catchy. I do not live close to this proposal. Thank God! Perhaps for Chuck and colleagues the location makes excellent business sense. My opposition is based on two of the players as mentioned, and it’s based on the location. But for that I think it’s a wonderful idea and probably this generating facility is the wave of the future. Sat. July 10/10 the Woolwich Observer have a story on this flyer as does the Elmira Independent on Wed. July 14/10. Here is a link to the Observer story. Tomorrow Wed. July 14/10 I'll give the nod to the Independent.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The majority of the groundwater contamination in both the Surficial Aquifer and the Upper Aquifer flows in an easterly direction from Varnicolor towards the Canagagigue Creek. Dissolved contamination however when forming a plume usually spreads out in ever widening circles prior to following the downgradient direction of flow . Dense non aqueous phase liquids are much less predictable as they will gravity flow both downwards and horizontally along a downwards sloping less permeable surface, without regard to the direction of flow of groundwater.
“The appearance of elevated concentrations of several compounds in the deepest piezometer (M2-1) completed in the lower sandy unit is a source of concern as it suggests that contamination of groundwater has occurred in this zone. …It should be noted that shallower piezometers had better water quality.” This quote was from pg. 17 of a report written by Canviro Consultants for Varnicolor Chemical at the request of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.. The date of the report was September 1986, three years prior to the discovery of toxic chemicals in the south wellfield and three and a half years prior to the M.O.E.’s public denials that Varnicolor was a polluter of the groundwater.
This monitoring well (M2-1) was the only one at that time on the Varnicolor site which was screened in the Upper Aquifer. All the others were screened in a much shallower Surficial Aquifer. The Upper Aquifer is the same aquifer which yesterday’s posting indicated at BH1 (Hawk Ridge Homes) contains NDMA, TCE, Acetone , Toluene and Carbon Disulfide. For the next seven years plus (after 1986) monitoring well M2-1 was allegedly out of service and hence unable to give us evidence of much deeper contamination at Varnicolor . The Upper Aquitard, a less permeable layer above the Municipal Aquifer at Varnicolor, is only 3 metres thick according to Golder Assoc. contrary to stratigraphic maps drawn by Conestoga Rovers , on behalf of Uniroyal, showing an Aquitard between 7 and 14 meters thick. All of this is merely more damning evidence of the ongoing coverup by the M.O.E. and Uniroyal (Chemtura) surrounding other sources of contamination in Elmira to the Municipal drinking water aquifer. Other sources I might add which are neither being acknowledged nor properly remediated.

Monday, July 5, 2010


I am providing a link to a Phase 1 & Phase 11 environmental assessment dealing with the proposed residential subdivision in the old apple orchard across First St. from the former Varnicolor Chemical site. This site is also on the west side of Union St. across from the former Nutrite/ Yara site. Obviously both Sulco Chemicals and Chemtura are extremely close neighbours to this proposed subdivision. My understanding from verbal comments only is that it was owned by (Regional Chair) Ken Seiling's mother prior to her passing.

Pg. 12 paragraphs 5.2, 5.4 & 5.5 are either incorrect or deceptive. 5.2 indeed does have a closed landfill within 500 metres and that would be the First St. Landfill at the foot of First St. Plus I'm willing to bet that the buried wastes still at Chemtura (RPW5, 6, 7, M2) are within 500 metres. 5.4 says that there were no P.C.B. storage sites nearby as of 1988. O.K. that's technically so but by 1991 the M.O.E. gave Varnicolor a license to store their illegal P.C.B.'s on site across the road. 5.5 claims no chance of methane gas? Really? Varnicolor's Lot 91, at the east end of Oriole Pkwy, with the same mixture of hydrocarbons (HC) being dumped has literally explosive levels of methane (CH4).

The following organic chemicals and solvents were found in the Upper Aquifer at BH1 (SE corner) of the proposed Hawkridge site: NDMA, Trichlorethylene, Toluene, Acetone and Carbon Disulfide all courtesy of Varnicolor 20 years AFTER their shallow cleanup. More will follow in regards to this.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Report on a Meeting about Trout Streams in Canagagigue Creek
Between Dan Kennaley (municipal official) and Henry Regier (eco-activist) ,
Woolwich Municipal Council Building, 15 June 2010.
The purpose of our meeting was:
- to review the recent status of tributaries to Canagagigue Creek (CC) that still seem to have water purity and flows generally acceptable by native brook trout; and
- to begin consideration about whether there may be a role for Woolwich Municipality to encourage responsible agencies and citizen groups to focus strong efforts to preserve reaches of trout-stream tributaries that are still quite natural and to rehabilitate some reaches where corrective measures might be inexpensive.
We started by noting that the Woolwich Reservoir and the CC’s mainstem, downstream from the Reservoir and the town of Elmira were not part of this meeting’s agenda. But Henry noted, in passing, that GRCA may have plans to dredge contaminated sediments out of the Reservoir. Also, the mainstem downstream from Elmira was already degraded 70 years ago because of inflow of primary sewage, wastes from a creamery, drainage of a garbage dump within the town, poor farming practices, etc. Starting about 1940, various industries then settled in Elmira and combined to cause intense harm to the aquifers, the mainstem, air quality, etc. Gradually over the past half century the most intense abuses have been remediated, in part. Currently the natural ecological association of the mainstem is recovering gradually and a scientific narrative of such partial improvements could provide reason for Elmirans to be proud of what has been achieved so far. But to declare victory and depart the field now would be premature by some decades. Alan Marshall is still finding secret hotspots of contaminants.
We, Dan and Henry, reviewed the geology of the CC basin and noted that much of the CC catchment area is interlaced with old glacial spillways that are sandy. Each of these spillways has complex layering and internal drainage.
About 10 years ago Henry Regier sat down with Ken Reger, a life-long naturalist of the CC basin, to map locations of springs that Ken recalled from his decades of mink trapping and trout fishing. Locations of those springs were entered onto a map that was included in a CC watershed planning report that GRCA produced about a decade ago. (Henry couldn’t find his copy of that report but did have a copy of the map mentioned above.)
Comparing the maps of spring locations and of major tributaries of the CC it was apparent to us that the springs known to Ken Reger were generally located in old glacial spillways in three of the five subwatersheds (see below).
Somewhat simplistically, the whole CC catchment basin can be divided into five tributary basins draining into the mainstem that flows southeastward from Floradale. These tributary basins are, from upstream to the northwest to downstream to the southeast:
- Northwest branch of the CC which starts at Goldstone; much of this tributary lies on a till plain on which streams show very low if any flow during a prolonged drought of hot weather; Ken recalled no springs in this tributary; it meanders southward to end in Floradale.
- Northeast branch of the CC which starts a few km west of Alma; the University of Guelph has an aquaculture research station that exploits massive springs from the large moraine at this location; Ken Reger recalls large springs in this tributary; it always has sizeable flow and runs southwestward to end in Floradale.
- West branch sometimes called Larch, Lorch or Schwindt Creek that starts near Wallenstein, Yatton and Gotham; the streams that start near Yatton and Gotham dry out in dry, hot summers; Ken Reger recalls springs in the southerly part of this tributary that starts near Wallenstein; a reach flows through the property of the ‘gun club’ where it is quite natural; another part detours into the golf course; it flows through Victoria Park at the north edge of Elmira and joins the mainstem near Arthur Street South.
- East branch sometimes called Swamp Creek; it starts south of Elora and flows, always with sizeable flow, almost due southward to join the mainstem near where Northfield drive crosses the mainstem below Elmira; Ken Reger recalls numerous springs in this tributary.
- South branch which lies southwestward of Elmira; it gets warm and dries out in a hot and dry summer; but a small tributary in the south of Elmira is fed by the outfall of cold water from a pump-and-treat facility across Arthur Street from the Crossroads Restaurant; that facility does not operate continuously so that when it closes down the temperature of the lower part of this south branch presumably rises abruptly; this tributary parallels the railway tracks for about a km before flowing into the CC mainstem just below the sewage treatment outfall.

In most of the summers since 1997 Henry has watched the weather to find a couple of particularly hot days during an extended dry spell. In some years he chose two occasions with those weather characteristics. On such days he conducted sampling surveys from late morning until early evening of selected locations on the many streams within the CC watershed. Altogether some 98 stations were visited at one time or another. After several years the data could be used to reduce the number of stations visited to those that were likely to have stream flows even on the hottest, driest days of a year. Data collected at each visit to a stream station included water temperature, approximate water flow, water quality as apparent visually and some ecological information. In early years the air temperature was obtained from government meteorological station near Elora and this information was supplemented by direct measurement during a survey in later years.

From research conducted elsewhere by Henry and his colleagues, it was shown that the kind of survey sketched above provided reasonably reliable information on maximum water temperature at a locale in a stream and information on other variables as listed above.

Dan and Henry reviewed summaries of survey information for several locations on each of three reaches of three tributaries to CC: the northeastern branch, the eastern branch and the western branch. These data show that these reaches had water temperatures, water flow, water quality and related ecological data like what one would expect in a trout stream. But there was a problem: the summer of 2006 was dry and hot and some stream temperatures exceeded 25 C during the sampling run. Whether these high temperatures persisted for more than a few hours and thus caused serious harm to any trout present isn’t known to Henry.

Scanning the data summaries also showed that the reach of the western branch (Larch, Lorch or Schwindt Creek) which deterred into the golf course showed anomalous behaviour on more than one occasion. The water temperature of the stream increased far more that about 2 C as one might expect over such a stream distance. Perhaps something bad happened to the stream occasionally in the golf course…

Henry is currently cleaning out his professional documents and asked Dan whether the data that Dan had seen were of sufficient interest that Henry should not throw them out but instead devote some effort into getting them in a condition in which they could be archived and used in the future.

Henry suggested that his surveys over the period 1998 to 2009 could provide baseline information about environmental husbandry in Woolwich Township since a stream’s ecological features provide a kind of ‘integrative indicator’ of environmental abuse. Secondly, air temperature and precipitation will likely change with climate warming, and such changes should eventually affect characteristics of streams of importance to trout, so that trout fishers could help to monitor local effects of climate warming.

Finally, there are good stories to be told about environmental stewardship in Woolwich Township, to complement bad stories of chemical hotspots that won’t be remediated for two or more decades to come.

1. agm July 3rd, 2010 7:30 am :

WOWser! For those who don’t know, Dr. Beth Parker is a blue ribbon, gold medal hydrogeologist.
I had the honour of attending a meeting with her and the world renowned Dr. John Cherry, three years ago at the University of Waterloo. Both herself and Dr. Cherry have done groundbreaking research into DNAPLS (dense non aqueous phase liquids) which is why I and 3 others attended the meeting in regards to Uniroyal (Chemtura). Unfortunately the other 3 for political reasons ignored the advice of these two experts. Shortly afterwards Dr. Parker moved on to U. of Guelph and Dr. Cherry is retired. I’ve read a number of their publications and they are both fascinating as well as readable for laypersons such as myself.

The above two paragraphs are pulled from the Cambridge Advocate website and were written by myself (agm) this morning. They are my comment to a story in the Guelph Mercury about the U. of Guelph Groundwater Centre. Here is the link to the Cambridge Advocate story.

In my comment regarding the meeting in January 2007, at the University of Waterloo with Dr.s Cherry and Parker, I stated that "...the other three for political reasons ignored the advice of these two experts." These other three were hydrogeologist Wilf Ruland, Susan Bryant and former Woolwich Councillor and current CPAC Chair Pat McLean.
Their motives were political and in my opinion unworthy. Furthermore both immediately prior to the meeting and certainly afterwards, I strongly felt that the only reason I was invited by Pat and Susan to this private meeting, with the experts, was to get me to soften my resistance to Chemtura and Conestoga Rovers DNAPL non cleanup plans. This backfired because the experts weren't in on the scam. Their advice was removal of the DNAPLS which was an evolving position which Wilf, Susan & Pat knew nothing about. This sealed my fate at CPAC as it put me squarely in the way of the manipulaters. They merely waited for the appropriate red herring to do their political dirty work. The rest is history. I do give credit to both local newspapers in Elmira who both smelled a rat in my removal from CPAC.

Friday, July 2, 2010

WOOLWICH BIO-EN biogas facility

A letter to the Editer (Woolwich Observer pg.10) from Chuck Martin claims that recent obnoxious odours in town were NOT from Woolwich Bio-En. Chuck further claims that he's sure of this because Woolwich Bio-En does not yet exist. I for one am prepared to take him at his word and as long as he keeps using this excuse for all future odours in town, the happier I am.

Chuck also refers to the Ministry of the Environment and a public liason committee. Neither one gives some sort of guarantee of responsible and responsive corporate ethics. One of them at least, if kept strictly at arms length from either municipal or provincial meddling, has some potential for good, although the odds are stacked against it.

Today's Elmira Independent (pg. 4) has an article by Dianne Saxe, an environmental lawyer regarding using plants and trees to clean up contaminated soil or groundwater. This methodology was presented to CPAC about a year ago and although there are scenarios where it could be very helpful, the Chemtura site in my opinion is not one of them. Ms. Saxe's article is very well done and well balanced in that it clearly gives both the pros and cons of this remediation methodology. To my mind one of the big cons is that the plants and trees do very little chemical breakdown and are mostly uptaking the chemicals through their roots and storing them in the trunk, branches and leaves. Therefore eventually you still have to deal with the contaminants, one way or the other. I will include a link to this story when it comes online.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Anyhow that's my excuse for this post. Last Saturday June 26/10 I posted an article titled "Why does the Region of Waterloo coverup for Polluters?" The facts presented there stand on their own however the more reports and articles I read the more I'm starting to think that the Region really don't consider synthetic organic chemicals to be a threat in our drinking water. Although I'm personally appalled by that, nevertheless the Region correctly understands that scientifically we can't yet prove the harm to human beings via low level organic pollution. The problem is however that we also can't scientifically disprove health effects on human beings by multiple low level organic pollutants. Anyhow let me say here that the Region of Waterloo have indeed invested heavily in time and money to research both water supply and quality in the Region. I expect that they will voluntarily stay abreast of the emerging science surrounding low level chemical toxicity and in the meantime as Dr. Henry Regier is known to say "The precautionary principle should be paramount."

There is an excellent Letter to the Editer in yesterday's Elmira Independent entitled "Charms of Victoria Glen Park not exaggerated" written by Ruth Josephs. Normally I would provide a link here to the online version but whether it's me, or the Independent just don't include their Letters to the Editer online I'm not sure. Nevertheless there aren't nearly enough environmental sucesses in my opinion, so that when we get one we should continue to celebrate. The saving of Victoria Glen Park last year was a huge sucess and everyone who wrote, spoke or attended Council Meetings should be proud.