Friday, December 31, 2010


1) You can't write a damn thing whether opinion or fact without offending someone.

Just over twenty-one years have passed since we found our drinking wells were contaminated. For years I've believed that the first major and significant error in judgement by Elmira citizens (specifically APTE of which I was a member at the time) was the refusal by the APTE coordinators to take a stand, any stand on the M.O.E.'s Dec. 10/93 letter essentially accepting Conestoga Rovers (CRA) latest DNAPL report. I was both right and wrong. This was a huge error , which I knew in my gut to be huge but I failed to convince the coordinators over the counter position of Sylvia Berg, vice-president of APTE. When I say I was wrong in fact it was the second major error. The first was much less dramatic, more of a whimper than a bang. This was the failure of Elmira citizens including myself to go to the wall on the M.O.E.'s reversal regarding deep monitoring wells at Varnicolor Chemical. Hindsight being 20/20 I now realize this was done by the M.O.E. in order to deflect and avoid further evidence that there could be multiple sources of contamination to the Elmira drinking water aquifer, exactly as Uniroyal/Chemtura claimed.

These two failures have both haunted and doomed the cleanup ever since. In my gut I do not believe that the M.O.E. had the courage in the very early 90's to unilaterally defy APT Environment. We had them on the ropes, credibility wise especially with the ongoing revelations of both incompetence and corruption surrounding Varnicolor Chemical. Yet we let it all slip away. How did this happen? Personally I believe that the M.O.E. sucessfully found two APTE members who were willing to deal with them privately as long ago as late 91 or early 1992. Since that time I have found private dealings with the M.O.E., outside of the public CPAC meetings by a different pair, who would both negotiate and finalize environmental positions and then sell them to the rest of CPAC. Or not. The three issues that mysteriously fell from the table are a) hydraulic containment in all aquifers b) removal of DNAPL as a contaminant source c) full aerial and VERTICAL investigation of the Varnicolor Chemical property.

Regardless of the motivations, good , bad or indifferent; regardless of the quality of the deal, good , bad or indifferent any and all of these "deals', written or verbal are bogus and non binding. No decisions whether unilateral or bilateral are binding on either all of APTE or most certainly on the citizens of Elmira. I challenge anyone , anywhere to produce any written agreement between the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.) and either APTE as a whole, Woolwich Council or any other representatives of our citizens which pertains to the alleged "cleanup" of the Elmira Aquifer.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Huh! Isn't this a website focused on Woolwich environmental issues? Yes it is and therein lies the rub. Both for better and worse, politics and the environment are inextricably linked. Here is some history. Back in the 50's, 60's and 70's Uniroyal Chemical had a number of employees on Woolwich Council. Keep in mind when Uniroyal first came to town in the early 40's they were seen as the saviour as they reopened and expanded the abandoned factory on the banks of the Canagagigue.

APT Environment burst on the scene in 1989 originally in response to the proposed Uniroyal incinerator. They switched gears and focused on ground and surface water after the drinking wells were shut down in November 1989 allegedly due to some never heard of before chemical, namely NDMA. In the early 90's Sylvia Berg (APTE V.P.) ran unsucessfully for Mayor with the support of former Mayor Bob Waters. Most recently, the long time Chair of CPAC, Pat McLean also ran unsucessfully for Mayor. Also in the early 90's, Regional Chair Ken Seiling used to drop by for coffee and a chat at the home of Susan Bryant (APTE Pres.). Are we beginning to see some evidence of linkages between local politics and the environment?

Former Mayor Bill Strauss and Pat Mclean were buddies and fellow supporters on Woolwich Council for many years. Former Councillor Sandy Shantz who did not run in the last election sat on CPAC for four years as Council's representative. She should have been Chair of their Committee of Council, however former Mayor Strauss, former Councillor Murray Martin and Councillor Mark Bauman all supported keeping Pat McLean on as Chair despite her losing her Council seat. This could have been out of sympathy or perhaps they were merely confident and happy with where she was taking CPAC.

Meanwhile back at CPAC a certain allegedly independent Hydrogeologist (Wilf Ruland) at least twice took an active lobbying role in regards to CPAC membership. He was always vigorously supported by both Pat McLean and Susan Bryant, allegedly due to his technical expertise. In reality he was consulted on "Optimization issues, DNAPLS, Site Specific Remediation (SSRA) and only a few other issues. His specific technical knowledge of the entire Uniroyal/Chemtura site was limited by his extremely hit and miss, drop in and drop out participation over the years. Nevertheless he apparently felt no compunctions against advising CPAC on overall strategies and on behind the scenes lobbying with Pat and Susan for both their continued presence at CPAC and for the removal of yours truly. He once rather cattily referred to me as an ankle biter. This is in my opinion, extremely weird behaviour for an allegedly independent consultant, hired by Woolwich Council ostensibly to give hydrogeological advice to Council nominated representatives at CPAC, including yours truly. Who the heck told him to get involved politically? What was his real motivation?

Over the years, CPAC has been a bit of a revolving door. In regards to Fred Hager, his absence due to health issues has been both unfortunate and understandable. More perplexing have been the sudden comings and goings of John Dehoodge, Shannon Holton, Tricia Brubacher and Richard Petrone. Richard was the most technically experienced and yet I doubt he attended more than one or two meetings in the last year. Tricia was very good but I believe she was the only member whose absence was formally noted by CPAC and we were advised she had resigned. Shannon we and the public have never been told a thing as to her non attendance. The two remaining newcomers, Sandra Bair and Ken Driedger have been regular attendees and have clearly shown their interest with timely and pointed questions to both the M.O.E. and Chemtura. It is my understanding that similar to her Council seat, Sandy Shantz has not reapplied to be on CPAC. Hindsight is always clearer and in hindsight I suggest that both Council and CPAC have lost an honest, decent human being.

Former Mayor Bill Strauss personally has and had environmental challenges. These included a gas station in Heidelburg as well as the former Strauss Fuels across from Martin/Heintz Pet Foods on Arthur St. in Elmira. The latter site was remediated three summers ago by Esso via Quantum Environmental whom I worked for that season. Regional Chair Ken Seiling has some past involvement with the proposed Hawk Ridge Homes development across from Varnicolor, Sulco and Chemtura. The main issue here is the potential proximity to major chemical companies although there certainly is some groundwater contamination.

It is my conclusion that Elmira has gone nowhere fast environmentally in the past twenty years. It is also my conclusion that this is because of the politics here over that time frame. Too many local politicians and or wanna bees have quite possibly honest biases in favour of local industries and thus were more concerned with appearances than actual cleanups. Both Chemtura and the M.O.E. have seemed very pleased with the alleged "progress" over the decades. I am not and never have been. I believe that our new Mayor and Council are also not pleased. I further believe that they are going to take the steps necessary to obtain real improvement.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Janet Baine, a communications specialist with the Grand River Conservation Authority, has written this article in today's Elmira Independent. Essentially the program brings all the operators, from 30 wastewater treatment plants up and down the Grand River, together to compare notes and operating strategies. While using the well overused term "optimized" what they are really doing is communicating with each other to help improve their efforts to clean wastewater, which is then being discharged into the Grand River. Clearly this program should also be used at the drinking water treatment plants up and down the Grand River and throughout Ontario. If it had been done ten years ago, perhaps the pathetic operational practices of the Walkerton P.U.C. could have been remedied in time. I agree with the following quote although it does concern me: "It is a cost-effective compliment to wastewater upgrades, which are very costly.". As long as this program is to compliment infrastructure upgrades rather than replace them, then it is a win-win scenario.

In last week's Elmira Advocate (Wed. Dec. 22/10) I wrote about the success of the recently initiated Green Bin program in Elmira. Well the Elmira Independent's poll had 100% of respondents declaring in regards to the Green Bins: "I love it, and use it every day."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


During the Municipal election campaign one and only one candidate said the unthinkable. "After twenty years what has CPAC accomplished?" Is the drinking water aquifer restored? Is it close to being potable? Is it as bad or worse than it was twenty years ago? What has been determined and learned, through no credit to CPAC, is that Uniroyal/Chemtura was not/is not the only cause and secondly that due to little or no source removal, while pumping deep aquifers, we have sucessfully managed to spread the contamination vertically down into the Bedrock Aquifer.

2 3/4 years ago, Woolwich Council voted to remove me from CPAC. This they did after hard core lobbying by Ron Ormson, Susan Bryant, Pat McLean and with the assistance of allegedly independent hydrogeologist, Wilf Ruland. Their weak and false claim was that they could not work with me and this was far too readily and easily accepted by the former Council. It was accepted because they wanted me off CPAC due to my increasing pressure and demands for action on the DNAPL issues. For over a year (spring 2008 to summer 2009) I reviewed the Uniroyal/Chemtura file in it's entirety. I did not understand what either CPAC or the Council had done and most importantly why. I did not begin to publicly, both verbally and in writing criticize CPAC as a whole or individual members until after the facts and data began to make sense. These conclusions regarding sweetheart agreements and individual motivations have been written about in the Elmira Advocate as well as in my "delegations" to CPAC since June 2009. Most significantly I behaved as a team player and 100% focused my criticism on Uniroyal/Chemtura and the M.O.E. while sitting as a voting CPAC member from Jan. 2000 until March 2008.

Since that time and after serious reflection and reexamination I have seriously criticized both the lack of action and followup by CPAC as well as the ongoing concessions to Chemtura that they endorse. This is the background to the upcoming new CPAC that both the public and the Ministry of the Environment and Chemtura will see in the New Year.

Monday, December 27, 2010


January 6/11 There is a Mediation meeting at 10:30 am being held by the Ontario Municipal Board in the Woolwich Township Hall. I'm putting this here for information purposes only as I assume that it isn't open to the public as it is a without prejudice meeting between myself and Safety-Kleen in regards to their proposed expansion onto contaminated lands behind their current property in Breslau.

Tues. Jan. 11/11 there is a Committee of the Whole meeting in Woolwich Council Chambers. This I would expect is a normally public meeting and although I would expect a number of Agenda items I will probably attend simply to hear any news of the upcoming new CPAC Committee.

January 31/11 we have another O.M.B. sponsered Mediation meeting at 10:30 am. this one in regards to the Hawkridge Development being proposed by Union & First St. in Elmira. Again my guess is that this on e will be for the parties only hence I include it here merely as an information update to others interested in this horribly located proposed residential development.

Tues. January 18/11 I would expect to be a regular public Woolwich Council meeting. I may attend for the same reason as I will attend the one week earlier Committee of the Whole meeting.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Friday, December 24, 2010


Today's K-W Record (pg. B4) reassures local residents in Cambridge that "Although we have not been able to identify a source of the odour, there appears to be no impact to the environment or residents" said Jennifer Hall of the Ministry of the Environment. This comment is in reaction to complaints of a bitter and unpleasant odour in the Franklin Blvd. and Saginaw Parkway area on Dec. 8, 15 & 20. Once again the M.O.E. without solving or resolving anything are quick to assume that all is well and to go into be happy all is well mode.

Today's K-W Record (pg. B2) claims that 5,000 tonnes of soil contaminated with "metal shavings" were removed earlier this month from Firth Brown Tools at Dundas St. and McLaren Ave. in Cambridge. This at best is deception and BS and at worst just plain insulting to the intelligence of the Record's readers. Nobody excavates and removes 5,000 Tonnes (2,200 lbs/tonne) due to clean metal shavings ie. steel mixed in with soil. At a minimum these metal shavings were covered in oil or other lubricant and at the worst they are a complete red herring hiding solvent or other serious contamination. Come on K-W Record, please give us the whole unvarnished story.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

1990 M.O.E. versus 2000 M.O.E. versus 2011

I am a great believer in the squeaky wheel theory. If either local citizens or local politicians aren't pushing for environmental improvement then you can be assurred that the M.O.E. won't be aggressive.

In 1990 we saw example after gross example of the M.O.E.'s go with the flow attitude. Individual citizen complaints or testimony was routinely ignored. Only when the citizens became organized and had inside industrial information did the M.O.E. start to get serious. Their continual humiliation and embarassment regarding Varnicolor Chemical revelations found and publicized by local citizens forced the M.O.E. to change numerous practices such as advanced warning prior to inspections etc.

In 2000 the M.O.E. again came under public scrutiny. Through the Walkerton Public Inquiry we saw that once again M.O.E. inspectors had backslid into the practice of requesting convenient times for inspections. The Walkerton P.U.C. were being managed and operated in an incompetent and sloppy fashion. The M.O.E. were aware of this and yet with no public or political pressure let things slide until disaster struck.

Fast forward to 2011. We have a new Woolwich Council and they know full well that environmental issues and past failures got them into office. All signs point to their aggressively pursuing improvements versus neverending talking, private meetings and private sub committees. I'm particularily optimistic in regards to greater public input, public communication and honest to God cleanup around the Chemtura site. I expect the Ontario M.O.E. to follow the Township's lead on this matter.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


As per today's Elmira Independent, the news is all good in relation to the recently introduced to Woolwich, Green Bins. On page 3 , Chuck Kuepfer quotes a Region of Waterloo staffer "You look down the streets and you just see green bin after green bin." For me this is validation that Canadian citizens want to do more and will do more voluntarily for the environment. What is required is a little leadership to show us the way. Without my fully understanding either the costs or the politics of the situation, nevertheless I have to say that this is an environmental area in which the Region of Waterloo should take pride. To date, 196 tonnes of waste has been collected from the four townships and diverted away from being landfilled. Kudos to both the Region and to our local citizens.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


This month it was hand delivered (by courier) on Dec. 20/10. Many months it's on the fifteenth or sixteenth. The timing of it is a good reason for CEPAC (CPAC) meetings to be at the end of the month in order to give the members time to read and understand the latest technical data.

For many months I've been indicating much improved groundwater pumping both on-site (Chemtura) and off-site (Elmira). Well the bubble has burst. Based on nearly nineteen years of pumping, the aberration is not the poor off-site pumping in November, the aberration is still the good pumping rates for the rest of 2010.
Table A.3 shows us the quantity and quality of on-site groundwater both in the Upper Aquifer and the deeper Municipal Aquifer. It is no surprise to have the following list of toxic chemicals constantly leaching into the groundwater namely: Chlorobenzene, Toluene, Carboxin,Morpholine, MBT, Chlorophenols, NDMA and NDPA.
Appendix B gives us partial results for the MISA discharge points into the Canagagigue Creek. I say partial because allegedly there was no discharge for MISA 0400. I find this very peculiar. Nevertheless some of the usual and normal chemicals discharging into the creek include Carboxin, Aniline, Benzothiazole, MBT and Lindane.
Appendix C measures chemical levels upstream in the Canagagigue and compares them to downstream (from Chemtura) levels. CRA the consultants for Chemtura use a mathematical method to allegedly determine if there is a statistical difference . Me, I just look at the number downstream and if it's higher than upstream such as NDMA, Ethylbenzene, BEHP and Toluene are then I report it here.
Table D.1 in Appendix D lists detections for Dioxins and Furans in Chemtura's on-site groundwater. Not surprisingly they are there despite years of denials, qualifications and claims that Dioxins and Furans adhere to soil particles and don't dissolve into groundwater.
Appendix E has some very good maps of Elmira showing partial plumes of NDMA and Chlorobenzene. Overall it is fair to say that nineteen years of pump and treat with minimal source removal has sucessfully spread these and other contaminants far and wide. Twenty years ago we were assurred that the damage to the Municipal Lower Aquifer was minor and that the Bedrock Aquifer was unaffected. These maps put the lie to those claims.
Finally Table E.1 has a remarkable result for Conductivity. Normal uncontaminated groundwater usually has Conductivities below 900 umhos/cm. Contaminated water often will have numbers from 1200 to 2000 umhos/cm. Well Ch87-A is located SW of former Varnicolor Chemicals Lot 91. It's Conductivity reading is 3400 umhos/cm. Further investigation is required.
In summation the non-cleanup continues at a good pace with on-site leakage into all aquifers and surface water bodies continuing unabated. Eventually (several hundred years???) this site will be restored after all it's contaminants have leaked and flowed downstream into the Grand River and Lake Erie.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Clearly thinking globally and acting locally are being taken to heart here in Elmira. As per page 3 of last Saturday's Woolwich Observer "EDSS students pitch in with e-waste diversion" we can see that our younger generation are willing to act upon local environmental needs. Nikketa Schneider, Sarah Ogle and Whitney Snyder are highlighted for their contribution to a new program to recycle electronic wastes. Donations including old cell phones, digital cameras, printer cartridges etc. are being accepted at Elmira District Secondary School , inside the main foyer on Jan. 13 & 14th 2011.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


The following are suggestions and ideas to improve a Committee of Woolwich Council with a checkered history. Over the last almost twenty years it has oscillated from being the Uniroyal Pollution Appreciation Club (as per the late Glenys McMullen of APTE) to being proactive and forward thinking and then back again. Each incarnation has had some positive attributes even when it was known as UPAC or Uniroyal Public Advisory Committee.

Some of these ideas are "out of the blue" and others are natural extensions of ideas already espoused during the municipal election campaign.
1) CPAC becomes CEPAC. Chemtura/Elmira Public Advisory Committee simply acknowledges the concensus that Chemtura are not the only source of contamination to the Municipal Aquifer. Nutrite (Yara) have now been publicly acknowledged. I am confident that Varnicolor Chemical will join this non prestigeous group with possibly Borg Textiles to follow, depending on the results of M.O.E. soil & groundwater testing.
2) In line with the above, CEPAC's mandate is to further actions that will restore Elmira's drinking water aquifer. This of course means not solely focusing on Chemtura but including any and all properties that have negatively impacted the Elmira Aquifers.
3) The public must be involved. For years I have unsucessfully lobbied for public evening meetings. This must be changed as Monday 9 am meetings suit the retired, government employees and certain elites. They do not suit the general public.
4) Minutes of public meetings being distributed one working day ahead of the next meeting, literally sometimes months after the last meeting are a farce. One's memory of a meeting is assisted by timely minutes being distributed. Conversely, minutes distributed eight weeks afterwards merely promotes "creativity" in the minutes.
5) The Agenda must no longer be distributed one working day prior to the public meeting. Promotion of voting members active participation depends upon them being prepared ahead of time. A minimum distribution one week ahead of time is required.

These ideas and suggestions are and should be SOP or standard operating procedure. These and more will assist in this Committee finally living up to it's potential.

Friday, December 17, 2010


of fumigating the residents and property of Elmira. This has got to stop! Here in the Elmira Advocate, back on Wednesday September 29/10 (which you can look up via the Blog Archive on the right) I indicated the likelihood that once again the low tech Chemtura "solution" to a tank or vessel being overpressurized was to let it intentionally break a "rupture disc" and be released to the natural environment (ie. Elmira). Indeed in tommorrow's Woolwich Observer (pg. 3) we finally have confirmation that this is exactly what happened. There were several other contributing factors including the operators not being present and a lack of automatic shut down features. Why can this company not be proactive? Why each and every time do they have to reinvent the wheel? Every pressure vessel and every possible public safety matter must be addressed beforehand not on an ad hoc basis after each and every toxic release.

Tomorrow's Woolwich Observer (out today) carries this story on page 10. Township planners are hoping to bring this proposed plan to Council in January for public discussion. If adopted this designation would go much further than otherwise in protecting views, buildings and the environment in and around West Montrose. Clearly this will have a significant effect on any gravel pit applications in the immediate area.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


It's still early days for this winter but I've already noticed a peculiar trend. Two and three days after a snowfall and a large number of our backstreets are still snowcovered and slippery. What's going on? Secondly as I've been walking my dog a little more often recently in my subdivision (Bristow Creek) versus letting her run up at the Woolwich dam, I'm really noticing excessive quantities of salt on the sidewalks. Is this coming from the sidewalk plows that clean the sidewalks? The reason I notice it is because it's hard on a dog's feet, otherwise I might not notice, however certainly any excess salt is hard on our groundwater. Worst case scenario how about a little more on the roads and a little less on the sidewalks?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Today's Elmira Independent, appropriately, after covering the concerns and opinions of many local residents has interviewed Bob and Kyle Hunsberger, the proponents of the Hunder Pit beside Conestogo and very near to Winterbourne. As to be expected they have a significantly different view of the proposed gravel pit and their opinions while different from both mine and their neighbours are not "bad" or "evil". They explain their position well and what surprises me is the claim that Councillor Bonnie Bryant and Mayor Todd Cowan have as yet not met with them. I would fully expect that situation to be remedied soon. What also concerns me is the statement that under Ministry of Natural Resources regulations, bush and woodlots can be destroyed and excavated for gravel. If correct then I find that an indictment of the MNR and suggest they should be renamed from Ministry of Natural Resources to the Ministry of Exploitation of Natural Resources.
My overall impression of this and similar situations is that clearly our planning rules and regulations favour industry, enterprise, developers and economic exploitation, with ordinary citizens and residents at the bottom of a very big pile. The Hunsbergers point out that the current residential subdivision used to be farmland. It was rezoned to residential and now the neighbouring farmland is being rezoned for aggregate extraction. Was the original error in permitting a developer to put a residential subdivision here or is the error in now allowing a gravel pit beside a residential subdivision? Something is very wrong with both the local planning rules as well as with the provincial resource development legislation.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Today's K-W Record carries their Editorial "Hopeful progress out of Cancun". In my mind this is a classic example of the glass half full versus the glass half empty. The Record can not be faulted for saying "...the continued commitment of so many countries with so many competing interests to keep on fighting climate change gives us all reason for hope." Furthermore "Nations at odds with other nations did not walk away. They kept talking." My perspective is as follows. I've spent the last twenty years of my life "talking" about the issues here in Elmira. At best we've accomplished 2-5 years worth of improvement while talking for twenty years. Recalcitrant parties routinely specialize in "talking". They are willing to sit down and talk until the cows come home. Here in the microcosm of Elmira I believe we've reached the point where the time for talking is done. We know what needs to be done and have known for twenty years. Both on the local stage and the world stage it is past due for concrete action. Again quoting the Record "It is sobering to hear that world leaders now admit they will not keep an agreed- upon goal of keeping the rise in global tempuratures from exceeding 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels."

Monday, December 13, 2010


In Canadian courtrooms we have a criminal standard of proof, namely guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We also have a standard of proof in non criminal or civil proceedings referred to as on the balance of probabilities. Unfortunately both of these standards of proof historically have been perverted either by juries or judges. It has become obvious that standards of proof are extraordinarily subjective. What one person interprets as conclusive evidence of guilt, the next person interprets as being merely circumstantial evidence of little weight.

It is with this background that I posit a theory. This "theory" however has twenty years of circumstantial and stronger evidence to back it up. We know through admissions by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment that they amended the 1991 Control Order issued upon Uniroyal Chemical. We also know that they did so without proper notice or notification either before or after the fact. This includes a decade of public references to the old Order without so much as a whisper from the M.O.E. that they had made huge changes in regards to hydraulic containment. It is now looking likely that they have done the same thing in regards to DNAPLS (dense non aqueous phase liquids) that were ordered removed in the 1991 Control Order. How else can the M.O.E. literally go for twenty years without enforcing their own Control Order? Obviously there has been some sort of gentleman's agreement (and I use the term loosely) between the M.O.E. and Uniroyal (Chemtura). I believe this agreement occurred in the late summer of 1991. At this time there was only one organized opposition in town to either the M.O.E. or Uniroyal and that was APT Environment of which I, Richard Clausi and Esther Thur were all members. Esther and Richard were also on the APTE executive referred to as the co-ordinating committee. There absolutely was not any official or formalized (written) agreement between the M.O.E. or Uniroyal with APT Environment. For that to have occurred and been valid it would have required a vote and prior discussion with the APTE coordinators, which did not occur. There was a debate and discussion with the coordinators initiated by Richard and I in December 1993. The results of that were simply APTE refusing to take any action on the December 10/93 M.O.E. acceptance of Conestoga Rovers nonsensical and highly criticized DNAPL report. Sometime after 1997, Henry Regier joined APTE and became an active member for seven years. Again he is unaware of any formal or informal agreement between the whole of APTE and either the M.O.E. or Uniroyal (Crompton/Chemtura). All of this leads me to a very unpalatable conclusion. I know for a fact that the President of APTE and the Chair of CPAC have negotiated/discussed issues privately for years with the other two parties. I also know for a FACT that those two, without full CPAC debate and voting approved the terms of the Ammonia Treatment System Certificate of Approval. In fact they did this in the midst of informal discussions with me and with formal written disagreement from me. They bilaterally took it upon themselves to agree to a flawed document and the President of APTE later verbally admitted to me that she would have to "eat crow"for so doing. This was because I was easily able to convince hydrogeologist, Wilf Ruland that the specific wells agreed to by Pat and Susan were totally inappropriate as they were screened in the wrong aquifer. This was the reason Susan and Wilf agreed to attend a formal meeting at Chemtura to discuss and debate my Appeal of this Ammonia Treatment Certificate of Approval.

So what is my unpalatable conclusion? Two members (at most) of APTE made a private verbal agreement with either the M.O.E. or Uniroyal or both to ignore the requirement of DNAPL removal in the 1991 Control Order. This is why APTE did nothing in December 1993 and have failed to follow up on the CPAC July 2003 "Request for Action" document. They also failed to follow up on the January 2007 University of Waterloo DNAPL breakthrough meeting attended by yours truly, Pat, Susan and Wilf. There are a plethora of possible motivations for these private agreements. Let me however remind everyone of the following quote: " The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Justice Dennis O'Connor carefully examined all the Walkerton wells as well as numerous other possible entry points to the Walkerton water supply. His conclusion that while there were indeed other possible threats, the actual sole cause of the May 2000 disaster was the mobilization of cattle manure from heavy rains flowing into well #5 and contaminating it with E-coli bacteria. At the same time the town treatment system was and had been improperly and incompetently managed for years. The result was a disaster. In Elmira the M.O.E. did the original survey and investigation. Later on a consulting firm , on behalf of the Region of Waterloo also concluded that Uniroyal Chemical were the sole cause. Varnicolor Chemical were at least looked at by the consulting firm and dismissed . The firm which should have been front and centre with Uniroyal was essentially ignored. This was Borg Textiles. I am flabbergasted by the amount of data on the Internet describing textile mill wastes. Both NDMA and Chlorobenzene are mentioned prominently in the literature as either being part of the makeup of textile dyes or as carriers for the dyes. Chlorobenzene is also used in the textile industry as a fibre swelling agent. Textile mill effluents were a world wide problem and should not have been dismissed so readily. Clearly the authoritys of the day wished to lay all the blame on Uniroyal and clearly Uniroyal knew the facts and managed to pin the Ministry of the Environment into submission with the truth. The public were then the losers as Uniroyal had leverage on the M.O.E. and this leverage grossly watered down the cleanup.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Tomorrow's Woolwich Observer (out today) carries his Editorial titled "Now the real work begins for Woolwich Council"(pg.10). Steve has listed the most pressing issues already on the table for the new Council. I am going to list the first three in order that he mentions namely: GRAVEL PITS, BIOGAS ENERGY, CHEMTURA . Wow! Twenty-one years after Elmira came to national attention due to the destruction of our drinking water aquifer by Uniroyal, their successor Chemtura still manage a top three finish.

Last Saturday's Woolwich Observer carried the story of Lee-anna Pendergast's coming out. Apparently she's made the courageous decision that representing the clear wishes of her constituents trumps some gobbledygook nonsense about a conflict of interest. Personally I find her timing exquisite. She's apparently come on side with the residents group which is fighting the proposed Hunder Pit beside Conestogo. That is long overdue. The fact she is doing it now, after Woolwich citizens have sent a clear environmental agenda via the municipal election, is simply common sense political survival. Very few of the incumbents truly believed that Woolwich citizens would turf them over environmental issues. Lee-anna and the ex Councillors now know better.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Last Saturday's Woolwich Observer carried the Township's request for citizen volunteers to a number of different committees including the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee. As there was a housecleaning at Woolwich Council via election, I am hopeful that this housecleaning will carry over via appointment at CPAC. The fact that the Township are still advertising for new members is a good sign. I will go out on a limb here and suggest that the spectacle that took place 2 1/2 years ago whereby 3 CPAC members took it upon themselves to give an ultimatum to Council; to remove one CPAC member who had the brass to disagree with them, will never be repeated. Volunteers are vetted beforehand and later honest opinions, whether contradictory or not, are to be expected. The behaviour of both CPAC and Woolwich Council 2 1/2 years ago was shameful and if the new Council wish to encourage citizen participation in this committee, they must enshrine both the right to honest disagreement as well as the promise that removal from a volunteer committee is only to be considered in extraordinary circumstances.

In theory at least, environmentalists aren't supposed to like cars. That being said my wife and I own a small fuel efficient vehicle that serves our needs admirably. The Elmira Independent on December 1/10 carried a story about the expansion of Grand River Carshare into Elmira. For more information please go to, email or call 519-578-1895. To my mind this is an excellent idea from many different standpoints.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


This is the suggestion in today's Elmira Independent. I will post the link to it when it comes on line. Apparently the Ontario Power Authority to date has not been very flexible in allowing changes to their contracts signed with potential energy providers. That being said Chuck Martin stated "It would take a lot of political goodwill to make it happen- at the MOE, at the OPA, and at the local level". That is probably true and yet perhaps with the current pressure that the provincial government is under including civil rights abuses at the G20, Caledonia demonstrations etc. maybe now is the time for the province to put pressure on the MOE & OPA to at least listen carefully to what our new Mayor is proposing in regards to Biogas in Elmira. There is a small opportunity here and Mayor Cowan has made it clear that he will be exploring it. One last surprise for me is that this issue could be appealed to the Environmental Review Tribunal. This is definitely not my first choice as from experience I can tell you they are not honest or independent.

Overall this topic has caught me off guard. What at first blush should be a low to no impact green method of renewable energy, apparently is no such thing. Today's Elmira Independent has a story on page 6 about protests and demonstrations in nearby Drayton against wind turbines. . Two statements in the story have really given me concerns. The one is that Direct Current (DC) being converted to Alternating Current (AC) results in "harmonic issues that can affect people and animals". This is way out of my area of expertise but at first blush this sounds a little out there. I wish that a more detailed explanation had been given about that. Secondly "...sound from the wind turbines will travel through walls, up to 3 km, and low frequency noise can cause depression and anxiety". O.K. going way back to my high school physics classes I can follow that sound waves do indeed travel but I had no idea they could travel 3 km and then go through walls. It now seems reasonable to me that health studies on these issues should be done BEFORE the wind turbines are up and running.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The public notice of this Study is in today's Kitchener-Waterloo Record, page A8. As I have mentioned previously, this should be of interest to residents of Elmira and St. Jacobs because we receive our municipal water via a pipeline from Waterloo. One of the things which I find a little peculiar is the designation of the Erb St. wells as part of the Waterloo well supply. In reality they are located in Wilmot Township although I grant very close to the border with Waterloo. Four wells are involved namely W6A, W6B, W7 & W8. Both quantity and quality are allegedly being examined in this study.The Region of Waterloo will be installing test and monitoring wells as part of this project. This is a good thing because if history has anything to tell us, it is the gross stupidity of drawing our drinking water in the same area as industry and or landfills. The Erb St. Landfill has been located there as well for I believe nearly fourty years. Meanwhile municipal drinking wells with their associated cones of influence from extended long term pumping are drawing groundwater towards themselves literally from miles away. This is a recipe for disaster. The fact that the same allegedly "independent" hydrogeologist who sits on the citizens landfill committee has occasionally attended CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) as their advisor, gives me virtually zero confidence.

Monday, December 6, 2010


A week ago today I posted that there would be a public meeting/open house at the Lion's Hall this evening in regards to the Chemtura air emissions (BLE) of September 27/10. I've just gotten off the phone with Chemtura and the answer is no it will not be tonite. Apparently there is a report which needs completion prior to a public meeting. My apologies folks.

The following is a letter from Richard Clausi which has been sent to a few dedicated persons within Woolwich Township for the purpose of taking control and actually cleaning up our local environment. These "dedicated persons" include some locally, recently elected public officials in whom we have great confidence.

Gentlemen: I am re-sending my thoughts on the future of CPAC... I agree that the mandate should be expanded to include all contaminated groundwater as the problem is not solved unless it IS completely solved. You may distribute this. I suspect this is our last chance to get it right for future generations. Rich

Confidential Memo

Regarding: the future of CPAC

October 30/2010 reTX:December 5/2010

To: Interested Parties

From: Richard Clausi

I have quickly written a few thoughts regarding CPAC and its ultimate fate.

It is futile forming a committee if it merely marks time and does not accomplish a tangible purpose in a defined timeline.

My experience with the Varnicolour Committee (as co-chair), the early UniRoyal advisory committee (that negotiated with Hardy Wong over Sue Bryant’s dining room table) and the current SULCO CAP (I am an original member) gives me a unique perspective. The Varnicolour CAP was an activist committee focused on solving a problem—indeed, the citizens helped to author the control order that led to a major cleanup and the conviction of the owner. The SULCO CAP is a collegial committee focused on ensuring that the company operates safely and profitably. The manager, Ron Koniuch both welcomes and facilitates discussion and participation. Information is transparent.

I need to contrast this with the current CPAC—it is not a problem-solving organization but rather a “sitting” that marks time. The odd time of the day at which it meets is a departure from the times that the other ,more exemplary, CAPS meet—the time is designed to limit participation. The expulsion of the only fellow who reads, understands and queries the lop-sided reports (that is, Al Marshall) is a shame that symbolizes the dysfunctionality of the group. This committee has ceased to be effective or relevant.

In reviewing the shortcomings of the committee, it seems obvious that a clear mandate and set of goals need to be created to get this committee back “on-track”. The goals must be measurable and attainable.

I suggest the following terms of reference for CPAC. Every decision and action must be made with these goals in mind. Council must judge the committee and its members relative to how they move forward toward these goals.

1. The community must be safe! CPAC must ensure that the company operates safely AND, in the event of an accident, uses the mechanisms set up to protect citizens both immediately and effectively. Our call-out system and Siren system are designed to protect citizens; however, recently we had a first-hand demonstration of how a good plan can fail if someone forgets to report the actual event. In the time lag in reporting the emission, the company exposed many people to their emissions. For example, the EDSS football team was on the football field experiencing emission smell and taste at 3:25 pm yet the incident was not reported for hours. This speaks to both the lethargic response to a crisis and the irrelevance of the CPAC in this event. Clearly, CPAC must be an active part of CAER and the members of CPAC need to be on an immediate-notify list in the event of an accident. Indeed, the SULCO members are notified of shutdowns and emission problems. CHEMTURA and CPAC must aspire to these standards.

2. WATER Quality must be restored in the time line stated by the M of E. A target has been set that,to this date, is unreachable. We need a defined set of steps that will reach the target, and the time-lines must be defined; for example, the following timetable would be reasonable…

1. Within 5 years, that is by December 2015, the following table lists maximum concentrations with the means to achieve them….

2. within 10 years, that is by December 2020, the following table lists maximum concentrations…..

3. within 15 years, that is by December 2025….etc.

All decisions by CPAC would be judged by this “yardstick”: how does this action or decision support the timetables given? Membership in CPAC needs to be adjusted accordingly to account for failings in reaching targets.

3. Air Quality must be reliable. Control of emissions must be monitored and reports must be accurate and transparent and public. In order for reports to be accessible to the general public, an executive summary that defines the contaminants in the air in a straight-forward manner is mandatory. A schedule of contaminants and violations may be necessary. Polluted air is not to be tolerated in Elmira .

Clearly, this standard must also apply to all industries in the area.

4. Ground contamination: caused over many decades must be remediated and ,if possible, removed. “Simple” treatment of groundwater is not enough. A waste building (“the mausoleum”) is on site and ready for the next phase of excavation and clean-up. There are precedents in both the work done earlier by Uniroyal as well as the cleanup at Varnicolours’ main site (
Union Street
) and storage site ( lot 91). Those past profits that included money that should have gone to safe production and disposal must now be re-invested in repairing the negligence of the past. A clear timetable needs to be established.

In all matters, the gathered data and the actions of the committee need to be transparent, with no secret meetings or reports or side-deals. This means that all meetings must be documented with minutes and decisions easily available to anyone who wishes to see them. In a similar fashion, council must treat this committee as a regular township standing committee. This committee is not an in-camera exercise because the well-being and health of citizens must be a public policy discussion conducted in the public forum. Members of the committee should operate out of the town hall facilities, be accessible to the public and be accountable for their actions to council.

It is all a worthless exercise unless within a defined time period we are able to solve our water, ground, air and, indeed, the committee itself, problems.

Job One is to set the parameters, then follow the plan.


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Saturday, December 4, 2010


This is the title above a Letter to the Editor in today's Woolwich Observer, by Alastair Rickard (pg. 14). I must admit that I was flabbergasted at the numbers and costs as presented by Mr. Rickard. Indeed it will be no surprise if the large taxpayer subsidy is viewed locally as simply adding insult to injury. Many people, myself included, have expressed their desire for an expansion of "green energy" whether wind, solar or biomass (biowaste). It just seems so ridiculous that we can't manage to have a win- win scenario in so doing.

One local example in Guelph of the benefits of biomass energy are written up in today's K-W Record (pg. B6). Apparently the sewage treatment plant in Guelph have retrofitted in order to produce and capture methane from their processes. This is then being used to power municipal pick up trucks rather than gasoline. These are exactly the benefits everyone wants to see from green energy.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Just up the road (NW) from Elmira is the town of Walkerton. In 2002 due to a combination of bad timing, bad maintenance, sloppy government oversight as well as local incompetence related to the bad maintenance; several people died and 2000 became sick. Some of these 2000 to this day have ongoing health problems because of E-coli bacteria. Chlorine has long been the weapon (chemical) of choice to kill bacteria and has been very sucessful in so doing. There are issues however with chlorine namely it combines with other chemicals in the water to produce toxins referred to as THM's (Trihalomethanes) as well as Haloacetic Acids. If the water being treated only had bacteria in it this problem wouldn't exist. It's various industrial chemicals, even at low concentrations which combine with the chlorine. Now there is a substitute for chlorine which is chloramine that also sucessfully kills bacteria. Imagine my surprise to learn that chloramine in water can with a little help from industry turn around and produce NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylamine), the chemical that shut down the Elmira wellfields in 1989.

There are numerous scholarly reports on line which describe the preceeding phenomenon including "Emerging Contaminants: potentially hazardous physical, chemical, or biological agents posing new concern" by Jessica Bawden, University of Arizona. Also there is "Ecological method development for detecting N-Nitrosodimethylamine in water using HPLC-PDAD" by JoLisa McDay , Eastern Michigan University. E-coli can kill very quickly whereas cancer from THM's & NDMA takes decades. We shouldn't have to choose our poison and removal of industrial chemicals obviously should not be at the end of the pipe (ie. municipal water treatment plants).

A little side note here. NDMA can also be produced in Sewage Treatment Plants. This also puts a whole new spin on the first Environmental Appeal Board (EAB) hearing (1991) in Elmira regarding Uniroyal Chemical. It focused on NDMA influent from Uniroyal and then the effluent from the STP. Clearly Uniroyal were correct in saying that all the NDMA leaving the STP was not theirs.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Three years ago CPAC took the extraordinary and ridiculous step of attempting unilaterally to throw the best informed and most honest member (moi) off of CPAC. The only good that came from this was my deliberate, methodical reevaluation of all the events both political and environmental that have transpired here in Elmira since the wellfields were shut down in November 1989. If you've been following the Elmira Advocate you will know about the other sources that contributed to our water disaster. The acceptance of 100% of the blame by Uniroyal (Chemtura) was a negotiated deal between them and the Ontario M.O.E..Since then (approx. 2000) all parties have conceded a second source namely Nutrite (Yara) contributed Ammonia to the Municipal Drinking Water Aquifer. Eventually I expect history will be rewritten with the knowledge that there are yet two or three other sources which have yet to be publicly "credited".

We here in Woolwich have made history with the recent municipal election. There was a long overdue housecleaning with new Councillors now at the table who I believe will as a group be much more conscious of the appropriate and legitimate rights and needs of the majority of citizens in Woolwich. The changes that they make and the new focus will affect everything including the cleanup and eventual restoration of the Elmira Aquifer. The "mid course correction" called for by Dr. Henry Regier of the Elmira Environmental Hazards Team is now upon us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


This is the question Gail Martin poses in her Editorial in today's Elmira Independent. She also has a story titled "MOE refuses public meeting on biogas issue". Past Councillor Ruby Weber when told that the M.O.E. won't hold a public meeting in order to remain nuetral commented " I thought it was because they are not interested in hearing what people think". Dan Kennaley of Woolwich Staff suggested they had agreed to present to Council because "... a council meeting appears to be exactly the kind of "controlled environment" the MOE is looking for". All of this does raise serious questions. Whether or not one believes that the M.O.E. are honest brokers in the first place, nevertheless Gail Martin is correct that citizens deserve a public meeting held by at least an ostensible nuetral party namely the M.O.E.. I attended last night's public meeting put on by the proponent Woolwich Bio-En. I had the opportunity to chat with both Chuck and Don Martin. Their opinions and position are valid in regards to the benefits of green energy. At the same time as I pointed out to Chuck, nobody can dispute the legitimate concerns of long suffering Elmira residents when it comes to local industry polluting their environments whether odour, noise or traffic.