Monday, February 28, 2011


These reports are produced by the Region of Waterloo as mandated by the provincial Safe Drinking Water Act. Although there is certainly useful information in them nevertheless I've found them to be unnecessarily obtuse. For example there is absolutely no reason not to have the Ontario Drinking Water Standard value for each specific chemical included . This would give us for example a better idea as to whether values for Glyphosate at < 25 ppb (less than 25) are a worry or not. Also actual values are always better than "the less than" character (<). Being told that Picloram is less than 1.5 ppb is not as helpful as knowing that there is 1 ppb Picloram for example. Another huge complaint I have are the number of common solvents and chemicals which are not included. Toluene, xylenes, NDMA, Dioxins, Ethyl Benzene and many more should be included. Finally the MDL's or Method Detection Limits are far too high. Too many of these chemicals have MDL's of 1 ppb or higher. This is a concern because ten chemicals present in the water at part per trillion levels could be of greater concern than 1 chemical present at 1 ppb. With high MDL's we will never see these low level detections. Over the coming weeks I expect to study these reports in more detail and give further comments on them.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


This one was referred by yours truly to the Ontario Municipal Board in regards to Official Plan Amendment #15 (OPA #15). This dealt with a zone change and amendment to the Official Plan in regards to the expansion of the Safety-Kleen site in Breslau by 15 acres. The proposal was to purchase land from Forwell Sand and Gravel and then build a warehouse, safety flare and a storm water management pond. None of these per se were the problem nor was the initial step of removing some of the oil floating on the water table in the area. My concerns then and now centre around a mediocre remediation plan which should have been implemented fourty years ago.

This brief story describes the purpose towards which the Grand River Conservation Authority will be spending the money they've received from the province. Both upgrading and decommissioning of wells and septic systems are involved as well as inspections of the same along with erosion control measures. This article is in yesterday's K-W Record.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Woolwich Council were again encouraged at the Tuesday nite Council meeting to continue their opposition to the proposed location in Elmira of the BIO-GAS plant. This story in the Woolwich Observer (pg.2) is titled "Woolwich busy behind the scenes in biogas review". Dan Holt of the BFCC (Bio Fuel Citizen's Committee) addressed Council in regards to concerns about traffic, noise and odour issues. Mayor Cowan has reiterated that Council are in discussions with the province in regards to a different location for this green energy proposal.

This notice is in tomorrow's Woolwich Observer (out today) and extends the period of time that the original by-law had ordered until...March 29, 2011. This By-Law had been referred to the O.M.B. but was settled by discussion/negotiation last fall. Essentially it was passed to prevent development (read gravel pits) in the West Montrose area while a Cultural Heritage Landscape study of the area was underway.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Yesterday's Elmira Independent carries this story "CPAC members have been consulted". Yours truly has sent in a short Letter to the Editer which I hope to see in next week's Independent. David Brenneman, the CAO of Woolwich Township has indicated that CPAC members have been consulted in regards to both updated Terms of Reference as well as membership. What is also pointed out is that normally Township appointments are handled internally without prior notice to the committee members in question. This has always been the norm.

What has been notably absent from these discussions regarding CPAC appointments is the fact that it was Pat McLean assisted by the strong support of Susan Bryant who insisted back in 2000 that CPAC become a formal committee of Woolwich Township. CPAC, previously known as UPAC (Uniroyal Public Advisory Committee) had NOT been a committee of Council until 2000 when Pat McLean as a sitting member of Council decided that it should be. Oh how times have changed! Now with a new Mayor and Council who are neither enamoured nor indebted to Pat, she's no longer happy with Council actually having control of their own committee. Susan Bryant has recently publicly hinted (last week's Independent) that "those who want to continue to pay attention will do so through some other means than CPAC". In that same article Susan Bryant also admits that she has had personal meetings recently with Mayor Cowan as well as Township officials. Apparently in her mind, consultation only counts if everyone agrees with her opinion. I personally have seen this side of both Pat and Susan. I am also aware of further meetings with Township officials by former CPAC members which Mr. Brenneman has not mentioned. Perhaps Mr. Brenneman simply was respecting the privacy of these citizens by not mentioning them. I as both a colleague and friend of theirs will mention their names with an apology up front to them in the unlikely scenario that they are shy. Both former Councillor and CPAC member Sandy Shantz has been consulted as well as former CPAC member and Order of Canada recipient, Dr. Henry Regier. Finally I must also admit that as a former CPAC member, 20 + year veteran of both UPAC and CPAC, personal holder of an extensive Uniroyal/Chemtura collection of technical data and an ongoing student of chemistry and hydrogeology that I too have been consulted.

Despite no requirement for consultation, the fact is that all stakeholders have been consulted. So what game are Pat and Susan playing with their public whining? In my opinion they know the jig is up. If they want to stay involved they can do so by attending monthly CPAC meetings, where as members of the public they can be heard. This of course is not the same as being in charge. Years ago in a moment of candour, Susan referred to Pat as a "control freak". This is at least a part of their motivation. If they can't be in charge then damnit they'll not only take their marbles and go home but they will also attempt to rain on the new, incoming CPAC.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


If only it was a "Progress" report. Here in the Advocate I reported on the December Progress Report on January 22/11 and the November P. Report on December 21/10. Well the downward spiral continues for the third month in a row . The computer modelled target pumping rates for the four off-site wells W5A/B, W3 and W4 is 26.5 liters per second. This is what is required to allegedly restore the Elmira Aquifer to drinking water standards by 2028. Last November, Chemtura achieved 15.9 l/sec. Last December it was 22.2 l/sec and last month they "achieved" 15.9 l/sec. The excuses over the years vary but the results don't. They stink.

For the second month in a row the combined treatment system has not met the effluent objectives for nitrosomorpholine (NMOR). Also not coincidentally this same chemical for the second month in a row has been detected in the surface water, namely Canagagigue Creek. Hence why we sometimes use the phrase Pump and Dump in regards to hydraulic containment. The collected and treated groundwater has to go somewhere and that somewhere is into the creek.

Finally as part of the long term granting of concessions by the old CPAC, to the destroyer of our local drinking water, we are advised that Chemtura did not measure the Upper aquifer groundwater elevations in January 2011. Hence Chemtura are in the enviable position of being able, if they so choose, to continue their decades old practice of discharging either semi or untreated groundwater to the creek with impunity. Afterall if you only have to measure your groundwater elevations every few months to prove hydraulic containment why pump diligently in between?

HYDRAULIC CONTAINMENT is a joke as a cleanup method and here in Elmira not even enforceable.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


A Woolwich Councillor came up with this metaphor a year and a half ago. Essentially you've seen a large dog poop in a child's sandbox. In order to clean this up (for health reasons) you cover the poop with sand and then you shove a few hoses into the sandbox. By ensuring that the sand box is uncovered , rainfall will percolate into the sand and slowly overtime dissolve the dog poop in the rainwater. The contaminated water will then slowly drain from the sandbox via the hoses. You carefully collect this contaminated water in order to treat it. Undoubtedly given enough time you will eventually have a perfectly clean sandbox for children to again play in. OR YOU COULD TAKE A SHOVEL & REMOVE THE DOG POOP ASAP. The first method is the one Uniroyal/Chemtura and the Ontario M.O.E. have chosen.

The town of Elmira is the sandbox. Hydraulic containment otherwise known as pump and treat is represented by the hoses. NDMA, DDT, DIOXINS, CHLOROBENZENE, AMMONIA, TOLUENE, XYLENE, ANILINE, TRICHLOROETHYLENE and a hundred more are the dog poop. You get the picture. The key to the real cleanup is to put the shovel where the pumping wells are. Both on site and off site these wells are located closest to the sources. The shovel of course represents source removal.

The cleanup of the Elmira Aquifer was predicated on the big lie that the only sources were at Uniroyal. The off site wells in reality were located next to the sources which Uniroyal, the Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.) and probably the Region of Waterloo already knew. W5A/B were located next to the former First St. Landfill and downgradient of Nutrite (Yara). W4 by the water tower was to capture the dissolved constituents including Chlorobenzene, of the Free Phase DNAPL (dense non aqueous phase liquid) 100 feet below ground behind Varnicolor and across from Borg. W3 was located at Oriole Parkway and Industrial Dr. on the Sanyo Canadian property. Here the NDMA concentrations have always been much higher than anywhere else in Elmira with the exception of on site at Uniroyal or just barely off site.

Mixing my metaphors, Elmira has been the sandbox in which the children (politicians) have been playing for the last 22 years.

Monday, February 21, 2011


This evidence is found in the following report: "HYDROGEOLOGIC INVESTIGATION OF THE VARNICOLOR PROPERTY-ROUTINE GROUNDWATER MONITORING FOR 1988". Prepared by Canviro Consultants a Division of CH2M HILL Engineering Ltd. May 1989.

The significance of this report is amazing. Firstly when I first privately and then publicly advised the Ontario Ministry of the Environment that the Varnicolor site was contaminated, they loudly denied it. Unknown to me they already knew and had two or three years of groundwater monitoring results to prove it. Secondly as I am about to quote in this report CH2M HILL strongly believed that there was another close by source contributing to groundwater contamination. Then a couple of years later when they were hired and under contract to the Region of Waterloo they reversed their position based on zero monitoring or examination of Borg Textiles. Their "source investigation" based on little or nothing supported both the Ministry of the Environment's position and also the Region of Waterloo's position that Uniroyal were the sole source of contaminants to the Municipal aquifer in Elmira. History proved Uniroyal correct and the others wrong simply with the public inclusion of Nutrite (Yara) in 2000.

"One concern which has been raised in previous monitoring reports is the possibility of offsite sources. Without the accurate definition of these contaminant sources, any predictions concerning contaminant fate is less than accurate. Presently several lines of evidence suggest that an offsite source(s) could be responsible for much of the groundwater contam,ination experienced in the area." To the present date (2011) there has been no "accurate definition of these contaminat sources". The above quote is on page 19 of this report as is the following. "The contamination identified in the Howard St. drain had some compounds whose concentrations exceeded those on the Varnicolor property. Contaminant concentrations can be expected to be diluted by moving further away from the source." ..."A number of other compounds detected in the Howard St. drain such as chlorobenzene, some halogenated phenolic compounds, herbicides and pesticides indicate that other sources of contamination in the area could be responsible for degradation of the groundwater."

Added to the above evidence are two points. Firstly the M.O.E. claimed that zero chlorobenzene was found in Varnicolor's on-site groundwater whereas it was found on their property line ie. the Howard St. drain which runs between Varnicolor and Borg Textiles. Secondly Free Phase DNAPL consisting of Chlorobenzene was found 100 feet below ground behind Varnicolor and across from Borg Textiles (near the water tower) in 1998. This final evidence was buried in a Uniroyal (Chemtura) report and yours truly only found it a little over a year and a half ago and made it public. Again as of this date (Feb. 2011) the Region of Waterloo, the M.O.E. and Chemtura have refused to comment or confirm. All three are still in denial mode. Quoting Aldous Huxley and the North Perth Advocate website " Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored".

Saturday, February 19, 2011


O.K. now this is a little weird on several fronts. Yesterday's Kitchener-Waterloo Record carried this story: "Ancient riverbed hints at big storehouse of water". So after reading this article why am I confused? First of all our surface water in Waterloo Region generally follows our surface topography. In other words you will notice that the Grand River flows GENERALLY from north of Waterloo Region (Dundalk) southwards until it discharges in Lake Erie at Dunnville. Our shallow or Upper Aquifers generally flow and discharge into all the little streams and creeks which end up in the Grand. Think of the Canagagigue here in Elmira, the Nith, the Speed River and Conestogo River. Granted with all the turning and twisting of all these rivers it is quite possible to have shallow aquifers literally flowing either north, south or east and west. Now I might be prepared to believe that eons ago the surface drainage from here swung easterly towards Lake Ontario versus southerly towards Lake Erie. So perhaps there are scattered patches of sand and gravel underground between here and lake Ontario.

For me the bigger problem is the alleged depth of these sand and gravel aquifers. This article claims that they are 80 metres underground. That's more than 250 feet for the metrically challenged. That is ridiculous. I have studied groundwater as well as geology for the past twenty plus years. I have carefully examined drilled boreholes and stratigraphic logs throughout Waterloo Region. Here in Elmira our overburden (sand/gravel/clay/silt) is approximately 100 feet (32 metres) thick. Then you hit bedrock. Just north and east of here in the Elora and Fergus area you can see outcrops of the Bedrock right at the surface. South of here in Kitchener-Waterloo again there are areas with the overburden 100 feet thick but nearer the Grand River this overburden thins quickly. Then in Cambridge you will find dramatically thinner overburden. This is why contrary to Kitchener, Waterloo and Elmira area, most of the Municipal wells in Cambridge are drilled into and screened in the limestone and dolomite Bedrock. Now you can see my problem. If this article suggested that these aquifers were fractured Bedrock Aquifers then 250 feet down wouldn't surprise me. But to claim that there are sand and gravel aquifers at that depth is astounding . It is possible that this article is simply very vague and not telling us that these sand and gravel aquifers are entombed within the Bedrock. Conversely I wonder if it's a simple typographical error. Could it be possible that these articles should have said that these aquifers are 80 feet below surface? Regardless the better technically informed one is, the more likely to find major errors in nespaper stories. This absolutely is not a general slam at papers or reporters. They are writers first and technical people second. Whatever the cause I do hope that future stories about this potential source of water will be clearer.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Many years ago Time magazine carried a story and photographs of children born in Vietnam, years after the U.S. had stopped spraying Agent Orange on the jungles. As you can imagine the birth defects were horrific. If the photograph of the running child, burned by U.S. napalm wasn't enough to shorten the war, imagine if these horrific photographs had been available at the time.

Fast forward to today and the K-W Record have published a story about Agent Orange being used right here in Ontario in the 50's, 60's and 70's. The title of the story is "Agent Orange once used on Ontario trees". Over the past couple of years there has been publicity regarding Canadian military personnel exposed to Agent Orange around military bases in New Brunswick. This latest public offerring revolves around forestry workers in Northern Ontario. Apparently Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company in Kapuskasing were responsible for the spraying of these herbicides although with the blessing of the government of the day.

Two things which we would do well to remember. Agent Orange was manufactured right here in Elmira, Ontario courtesy of Uniroyal Chemical, now Chemtura. Secondly our governments are elected by a majority (sort of) of our citizens but they have long been co-opted by a tiny minority with money and influence. Hence government approval of industrial and commercial enterprises must always be watched with extreme care. Most government's list of priorities have the protection of the health and safety of their citizens way behind their political requirements of keeping the wealthy and influential minority happy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Yesterday's Elmira Independent carrys the following front page headlines: "CPAC member withdraws application" The sub title is "Hydrogeologist concerned about lack of consultation with advisory body". Does any of this sound even vaguely familiar with what occurred at CPAC three years ago? At that time Wilf Ruland (hydrogeologist) submitted his resignation to Woolwich Council claiming that he could no longer work with yours truly, one Al Marshall. Although it is the same characters behind both strategies, there are some differences. First of all, Wilf Ruland was not a voting member of CPAC. He was a part, part time hydrogeological consultant. Secondly he was an accredited hydrogeologist (groundwater specialist) whereas I am positive that Richard Petrone who joined CPAC about fifteen months ago at the same time as Ken Driedger and Sandra Bair, was put forth as a Hydrologist (surface water specialist).

More importantly are Mr. Petrone's credentials as a voting CPAC member. Richard Who should be his name. In this article he is spouting off about subjects with which he is grossly unqualified. For example he complains about the Terms of Reference being ignored. There have been two or three Terms of Reference over the last twenty years. Mr. Petrone who ostensibly has been a voting member of CPAC for the last fifteen months hasn't got the decency or respect to even show up for meetings. I met him once fifteen months ago at CPAC and haven't seen him since. There have been public meetings of CPAC that lacked a quorum and Mr. Petrone is one of the dedicated, reliable members responsible for that. If he couldn't be bothered showing up for meetings are we to truly believe he's up to date on the Terms of Reference? By the way these Terms of Reference have been updated (?) and rewritten by FORMER Chair Pat McLean. Possibly she was assisted by Susan Bryant. I've got copies of the old Terms of Reference but I'm seriously in the dark about "... a past chair, vice-chair and secretary-treasurer...". Have these newer Terms of Reference ever seen the light of day at a public CPAC meeting?

The hypocrisy and sour grapes in this article are stunning. Gee I wonder who gave the "resignation" letter to the Independent. My guess is Pat Mclean and or Susan Bryant. The past Terms of Reference were explicit that a Council member MUST be the Chair of this Committee of Council (CPAC). The only time there was an exception to this was four years ago when Sandy Shantz was appointed as Council's representative on CPAC and former Mayor Bill Strauss O.K.'d his long time colleague Pat McLean staying as Chair. This was contrary to the Terms of Reference yet nobody objected . Further hypocrisy surrounds Mr. Petrone's comment "My big concern was how they were treating some long-time volunteers". Really? You didn't care enough to either show up at meetings or give a good reason why you weren't there, but now you are concerned about your fellow members.

Then we have Pat Mclean, former Councillor, former CPAC Chair and unsucessful candidate for Mayor. "The process certainly has not been respectful of the volunteers, I think, of the long serving and dedicated volunteers". Pat's ability to conveniently forget facts is second to none. How much respect did she have for this long serving and dedicated volunteer, yours truly? I've been actively involved doing research, attending public meetings and holding Chemtura's and The Ministry of the Environment's feet to the fire for over twenty years. She and Susan Bryant, for self serving reasons, unceremoniously had me dumped from CPAC in the middle of a four year term. Now she is whining about proper process not being followed at the end of the appropriate term of CPAC which follows the terms of Council.

Finally I must comment on Susan Bryant's claim that Richard Petrone's experience "has come in handy when reviewing Chemtura's current request to reduce the number of test wells it monitors for signs of contamination". This is first class, outrageous bullshit from Susan. Richard has no experience with Chemtura. He couldn't possibly begin to even find particular test wells on or off site, of the literally hundreds of wells in existence. He hasn't a clue as to the monitoring history of individual wells. He has virtually no idea of which wells in which aquifer, whether on or off site, have always had high readings of contaminants and of which contaminants. Similar to Wilf Ruland, Susan is simply using his credentials to back up CPAC's long time granting of monitoring ($$$) concessions to Chemtura. These concessions are neither based on science nor on common sense.

So what is going on? WHY are Susan and Pat behaving this way? What have they got to hide? Why are they so desperate to stay on CPAC, a volunteer, time consuming organization? Yours truly in the past twenty years has been a formal voting member of CPAC for about ten years and a non member but extremely active citizen attending and participating in these public meetings for another ten years. From 1994 till 2000 I was a non member by choice. Then as now CPAC was nothing but a cheering squad for Uniroyal/Chemtura. This desperate move to use the resignation of a non attending NEW member of CPAC to embarass Council into reappointing them, is insane. The only conjecture left to me is that they are both afraid that a brand new CPAC, without them, may find other private concessions to Chemtura. Specifically my suspicions are that private deals have been made to let Chemtura off the hook in regards to onsite removal of DNAPLs (dense non aqueous phase liquids). This would save Chemtura millions of dollars. If this has occurred it will be exposed by a new CPAC.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Two days ago (Mon. Feb. 14/11) I posted here in regards to wind turbines and in the comment section I asked my daughter Kate (PHD. candidate Biology) if she could send me any scientific literature regarding health effects of wind turbines. Well she has done so specifically "Evaluation of the Scientific Literature on the Health Effects Associated with Wind Turbines and Low Frequency Sound" by DRs. Mark and Jennifer Roberts of Wood Dale Illinois. This study was prepared for the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Conclusions pg.44 " Based on the literature review that was conducted for this white paper, there was not any scientifically peer-reviewed information found demonstrating a link between wind turbines and negative health effects".

Well I admit I'm somewhat taken aback. In the paper itself there are numerous references to the "annoyance" effect of wind turbines. Clearly there are both physiological as well as psychological effects caused by low frequency wind turbines. However as per the Executive Summary: " It is clear that some people respond negatively to the noise qualities generated by the operation of wind turbines, but there is no peer-reviewed, scientific data to support a claim that wind turbines are causing disease or specific health conditions".

I have never disputed "anecdotal" evidence nor am I comfortable suggesting that someone experiencing first hand negative symptoms are wrong, incorrect or misguided. That being said either new scientific evidence is required or perhaps the opponents of wind turbines may have to frame their arguments a little differently. As of this point in time it does not appear that science is supportive of health related claims against wind turbines.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This is the title of an Environment Canada factsheet dated August 2001. If one were to google textile mill effluents, one would find a library of reports and studies. Another report I've been studying is titled Identification and Reduction of Toxic Pollutants in Textile Mill Effluents by Brent Smith of North Carolina State University, Raleigh North Carolina. The other interesting tidbit is that the Canadian government has a Priority Substances List which indicates which chemicals or groups of chemicals are considered toxic. TME's, short for Textile mill Effluents are on that list and are designated as toxic.

Clearly the effluents from textile mills have historically been both obvious visually as well as in regards to their effects on aquatic life. Also any instances of on site dumping or disposal without major treatment would also have serious negative effects on groundwater and drinking water. I've gone through two old Varnicolor Chemical hydrogeological reports dated October 1990 and 90 06 08 (June 8, 1990 ?). Literally for years I've been aware of a myriad of chemicals in Varnicolor's groundwater which did not seem to fit in with fuels (gasoline, diesel, keresene etc.), nor with solvents both chloinated and non chlorinated. Finally there are also some chemicals in Varnicolor's groundwater which are Uniroyal signature chemicals.

What I have found is a large list of textile mill effluents in Varnicolor's groundwater. These include a number of cyclohexanes, thiobis methane, linear alcohol ethoxylate, alkylbenzenes, methyl benzoate, trimethylcyclohexanone and more. There are at least two possible interpretations. It is possible that contaminated shallow groundwater from Borg Textiles found it's way across Howard Ave. to Varnicolor. Also similar to my belief that Uniroyal legally used Varnicolor's hazardous waste services is the possibility that Borg was a former client of Varnicolor Chemical's. Once again proper shallow and deep groundwater testing could determine which or possibly both interpretations are most accurate. Perhaps even more significant is why the M.O.E. have absolutely NEVER suggested or looked at Borg Textiles as a possible source of drinking water contamination in Elmira. Based on the long known published scientific knowledge of the inherent dangers of TME's, this makes no sense.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I have absolutely no idea why the Federal government through Environment Canada is chasing dry cleaners rather than their provincial counterpart namely the Quebec Environment Ministry. Regardless dry cleaners have long been known as a heavy user of tetrachloroethylene also known as perchloroethylene or perc. This story in today's K-W Record "Dry cleaners top target for Environment Canada" really focuses on the industry's record with the following quote "The rate of non compliance is particularily high because of the high turnover rate of owners of those facilities". Clearly a major part of the problem isn't just air releases but also releases to the ground which contaminate the groundwater.

Saturday's K-W Record carrys the following story "Offshore wind farms on hold". The Ontario Minister of the Environment, Brad Duguid, claims that the science regarding health issues is lacking on off shore wind farms whereas it is clear for on shore wind farms. According to him there is 30 or 40 years of science stating that there is no on shore health issues with wind farms. Fortunately a growing number of Ontario residents understand both that there is science and there is science and also that sometimes politicians have been known to lie. Personally it seems to me that onshore wind farms are more likely to be responsible for human health issues whereas I'd be more concerned about migratory birds being affected by off shore farms.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


There was a notice of this report's availability in the K-W Record late this week. It is available either at Kitchener Utilities, 83 Elmsdale Dr. or online at . I went the internet route and was not disappointed. I expected a crap report and that's exactly what it is. The Regional Annual Water Quality Reports are bad enough with the amounts of information and misinformation, but this City report was really bad, essentially over a page of chemical parameters including solvents, pesticides, P.C.B.'s etc. are just blank. No explanation, just blank. At the same time there were two surprises for me. The readings for lead had seven exceedances. My understanding is that the maximum level for lead is supposed to be 10 ug/l or 10 parts per billion (ppb). These exceedances went up to 231 ppb. That is very bad . Secondly I was astounded to see ""Table 1- Adverse Water Quality Incident Summary-January 1 to December 31, 2010". This table is 1 1/3 pages long and the Adverse Type is referred to as Low Chlorine. The sample dates start in January 2010 and the only month without an Adverse listing is December. What the hell is going on here? If this "Low Chlorine" refers to chlorine residuals then this is serious. Low chlorine residuals were the basic cause of the Walkerton disaster. Yes bacteria got into the system but it was the incompetence and ignorance of all involved in not maintaining proper chlorine residual levels in the distribution system which resulted in the bacterial outbreak and infection. In a nutshell this Report is typical of both Municipal and Regional reports in that it is evasive, non comprehensive and exceedingly unclear. In particular a detailed explanation should be given for exactly what "Low Chlorine" means and if it is what I suspect than Kitchener are flirting with an E-coli or other bacterial outbreak.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I may have mentioned before how much I enjoy the cartoons by Scott Arnold, published in the Woolwich Observer. Tomorrow's is as it should be, both funny and thought provoking. It shows protesters carrying signs complaining about wind turbines, nuclear power, coal and electric transmission lines. The one local item of interest the protesters have missed, is of course, Bio-Fuel. Nevertheless the text points out that the province is at odds with many citizens in regards to their energy policys, except with our very local Old Order Mennonite community. Perhaps the rest of us, sooner than we want, may have to seriously consider what energy we truly need versus how much we simply would like.

Oh boy, maybe this could be a tough decision. It's not that the dollars involved are large so much as does Council want to set a precedent. Tomorrow's Woolwich Observer (out today) has the following story "Car-share group seeks support for Elmira service". I can't state how fabulous I think the whole idea is. I truly believe that there is a demand and that it is growing for part time car "ownership". Many people who don't have a daily commute still badly need reliable transportation perhaps only two or three times a week for shopping and errands that they can't do on foot. From an environmental standpoint, having a car available by appointment will certainly help people lump their errands together and reduce impulse and last minute driving.

The decision for Council of course will be whether to fork over the upfront $30,000 to this worthy cause. This organization is a non profit cooperative and the municipality's loan would assist with both costs and ability to attain the required membership . Currently Grand River CarShare (GRCS) has 400 members sharing 16 vehicles.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


The following list of chemicals found in the shallow groundwater at Uniroyal/Chemtura have also been found in the shallow groundwater at Varnicolor Chemical. Keep in mind the shallow groundwater at Chemtura flows to the Canagagigue Creek not towards Varnicolor. The list is cellosolve, Benzothiazole, MBT, carboxin, aniline, chlorophenols, acetone and NDMA. Similarily the following chemicals which were in Varnicolor's shallow groundwater all have uses in the textile industry namely dimethylurea, aniline (phenylamine), tetrachlorethylene, 1,4 butanediol and dimethyl formamide. Dimethylamine which is a precurser to NDMA is also a precurser to dimethyl formamide and dimethylurea.

It is possible (probable) that Uniroyal and Borg were legitimate customers of Varnicolor who afterall were a licensed hazardous waste disposal site. The other interpretation is that SOME of Varnicolor's contamination came from Borg. During the 80's there was a major issue with liquid contaminants in the Howard St. storm drain which runs between Borg and Varnicolor, down Howard Ave. towards the creek. All the following chemicals which at one time or another have been found in the south wellfield (E7/E9) have also been found in Varnicolor's groundwater: toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, styrene, 1,1,1 trichloroethane, phenolics, NDMA and cyclohexylamine.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


This occurred in early 1990. I only know two of the names of these five. Probably I would recognize the other three names and be similarily unimpressed. The two I know are Gord Robinson and Glen McDonald. Mr. McDonald examined Varnicolor's Lot 91 in the early 80's after investigative reporter Jock Ferguson, out of Toronto, printed a story about drums of Trichloroethylene leaking into a swamp, on Lot 91 in Elmira. Mr. McDonald was later fired by the M.O.E. (May 1990) and charged criminally with Breach of Trust in regards to a leaked "secret" raid on Varnicolor Chemical in Elmira. Gord Robinson's actions have been described in detail by me to both the M.O.E. and the media. In a nutshell, in the past, I have suggested that Mr. Robinson's ability to see and find pollution may be comprimised by his inability to find his own butt in a blinding snowstorm.

In the extremely shallow Surficial Aquifer at Varnicolor (62 Union St.), the highest NDMA groundwater reading was only .43 ppb. This reading although low is still way above the drinking water standard of .009 ppb (parts per billion). The only well drilled deeper into the still shallow Upper Aquifer (39 ft.), mysteriously has never been tested for NDMA. Perhaps more accurately I should say that no NDMA results have ever been made public. What was made public however was the finding of 14 ppb. NDMA in a surface sump on the Varnicolor site. Also found were soil readings 25 feet down of 3.1 and 3.3 ppb. of NDMA. Furthermore the original Control Order issued upon Varnicolor ordered deep groundweater testing beneath the site. This requirement which was negotiated and discussed with myself, Rich Clausi and Ted Oldfield was surrepticiously dropped when the Control Order was transferred over to the new owner, Phillip's Environmental.

The other point to keep in mind is the extreme mobility of NDMA in groundwater. Finding it deeper versus shallow merely indicates a time frame for the pollution. If it was the on site can coating operation which introduced Dimethylamine, a precurser to NDMA, into the subsurface then this would explain higher readings at depth. Basically the can coating operation had been finished for years by 1990. Clearly the way to clear up the mystery included deeper soil and groundwater readings at Varnicolor (and downgradient). Equally clear is the fact that this option was originally agreed to publicly by the M.O.E. and then privately and quietly, behind closed doors, abandoned.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


A map would be helpful but at the moment I can't provide that. Basically we have a grossly contaminated area of shallow soil and water at Uniroyal/Chemtura and another one at the old Varnicolor Chemical site bounded by First St., Union St. and Howard Ave. In the deeper Municipal Aquifer we have NDMA, Chlorobenzene, Ammonia and dozens of other chemicals. Astoundingly, contrary to most normal distributions of contaminants, Chlororbenzene concentrations rise from Chemtura southwards towards the water tower as does Ammonia. Similarily in the MU, NDMA rises even further south in the vicinity of Oriole Parkway and Industrial Dr. What is lacking is monitoring of the shallow groundwater from Chemtura southwards. By intentionally not doing this, they have sucessfully eliminated the possibility of Borg, Varnicolor or anyone else being implicated for anything other than localized pollution. Furthermore by focusing for twenty years on NDMA and Chlorobenzene (& Ammonia ) we have all but forgotten all the other chemicals which had been found in the south wellfield (E7/E9). These chemicals included Cyclohexlamine, Fluorene, xylene, anthracene and more. Until and unless the Ontario M.O.E. do a real hydrogeological study of Borg & Varnicolor, both shallow and deep, including soil and groundwater monitoring, we will be left knowing that the M.O.E. cut a deal with Uniroyal twenty years ago to accept all the blame for the destruction of the Elmira aquifer. What was Uniroyal/Chemtura's price? How badly did the taxpayers get shafted? Who at the M.O.E. was involved in this coverup? Did this coverup go right to the top? One senior M.O.E. officer got fired for protecting Varnicolor Chemical. Were there other M.O.E. officers protecting Varnicolor or even Uniroyal? Why was Borg given a free pass without a serious investigation? Why to this day, despite a Control Order demanding a deep investigation at Varnicolor, has it never been done? Why did M.O.E. officers lie by initially claiming there were no buried drums of chemicals on Varnicolor's Lot 91?

In my humble opinion these questions deserve honest answers not just for the benefit of cleaning up the Elmira Aquifer but for the benefit of cleaning up the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. A cleanup of the M.O.E. could positively affect the rest of the province and is long overdue.

Monday, February 7, 2011


The following is my report presented to (and ignored by) CPAC late last November. I recently came across a very relevant quote on the North Perth Advocate website (the link is on the right side of the page). Aldous Huxley was quoted as follows: "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." I also wish to advise my readers that there will be more posted here in the near future regarding both precursers, breakdown products and other compounds related to NDMA. These include compounds used in and by textile manufacturers, foundries and industries producing surfactants, soaps and detergents, all former (or current) businesses here in Elmira.

Delegation by Alan Marshall of the Elmira Environmental Hazards Team

The details including scholarly references regarding the following information I am presenting are all on line, both as stand alone reports as well as in summarized form on my Elmira Advocate website.
The Travis-Agardy Report of July 29, 2010, while focusing on Trichloroethylene (TCE) also gives a historical review of synthetic (man made) organic chemicals, their fate and transport in the environment. This report essentially puts the lie to the excuses we here in Elmira as well as the rest of the country have been subjected to regarding the waste disposal methods employed by Safety-Kleen, Chemtura and so many other polluters. This report makes it clear that in ground waste disposal pits as well as lagooning were emphatically rejected as grossly unsafe in the 1800’s. These practices have quaintly been referred to by Conestoga Rovers, Uniroyal, Crompton and Chemtura as “historical” waste disposal methods which were the accepted practices of the day. The day being in the 1940’s through to 1970. These statements are complete nonsense and rubbish. Numerous documented cases in the last thirty –five years of the NINETEENTH century show that in ground waste pits and lagoons were responsible for numerous poisonings and drinking water contamination in several countries in Europe.
Further technical reports including “Contaminated Earth and Water: A Legacy of the Synthetic Dyestuffs Industry” clearly indicate that the next step in avoiding public condemnation and legal ramifications involved avoiding on site waste disposal by locating on significant rivers in order to dump, dilute and disperse toxic wastes downstream. This report and many others delve into the history of the synthetic dyes industry. They include references to bladder cancer being diagnosed as early as the 1890’s in the workforce at Hoechst Dyeworks in Frankfurt Germany. They refer to Azo dyes as being particularily problematic both as environmental pollutants and as the cause of health issues amongst dye workers. Certain Azo dyes indeed have been prohibited because they produce specific banned amines in their wastewater. Azo dyes have two Nitogen atoms joined by a double bond . Amines are a Nitogen and Hydrogen combination. Finally I’ve also found references to various methods of wastewater treatment that incredibly enough include the addition of DIMETHYLAMINE to the wastewater. Any follower of the pollution history of Elmira will already know that everything I’ve just described is screaming out the word N-Nitrosodimethylamine or NDMA. The synthetic dyestuffs industry ‘s products were used extensively in Elmira, much closer to the south wellfield than Chemtura are located. I am of course referring to the former Borg Textiles on Howard Ave. Between late 1989 and mid 1991 before a deal was cooked up, Uniroyal Chemical went so far as to offer to pay for a hydrogeological study focused on “other sources” of the NDMA contamination in Elmira.
Much to the shame of every party here in this room we have the knowledge of free phase Chlorobenzene , several hundred yards off the Chemtura site, without any public response or followup to my discovery and presentation of this information here at CPAC. We also have gradually building evidence and knowledge of a major pollution threat at Borg Textiles which may explain the historically high NDMA readings at well CH38, downgradient from Borg . Either or both of these probable sources will grossly, negatively impact an already compromised, behind schedule and frankly extremely unlikely cleanup of the Elmira Aquifer by 2028, much less ever.

Alan Marshall Elmira Environmental Hazards Team
November 22, 2010

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I am slowly receiving documents that were promised to me at the Mediation meeting with the Ontario Municipal Board last month. These include a Stormwater Management Report and a Geotechnical Investigation Report. There were no huge surprises as this data merely confirmed suspicions that I already had. For example it seems as if both on site creeks and man made drains have been moved about, on and near the Safety-Kleen site, more or less as desired by either Safety-kleen or their neighbour Forwell Sand and Gravel. One of these documents from the Grand River Conservation Authority even suggests that the location of the Breslau Drain is inaccurate on their documents and hence they the GRCA will change their documents to reflect the reality. Unexplained is how this happened.

In regards to development of this contaminated area, a number of boreholes were drilled to determine soil conditions for construction purposes. Page one of the Geotechnical Report has the following to say: "No boreholes were completed in the center area of the site, to avoid excavation of the contaminated soils in the known plume." Wow, one must at least respect their brass and honesty in this respect. Overall it appears as if the buildings and Storm Water Pond are being carefully built to avoid the worst contaminated areas which will then be covered with gravel and asphalt and or concrete. OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND syndrome is alive and well. Fourty plus years of waiting and allowing these contaminants to leach and drain into the Grand River apparently isn't good enough for this company or the Ministry of the Environment. The partial and minimal cleanup proposed will ensure that this leaching and draining continues on. This is the dirty little secret of most MOE cleanup plans. They rely on natural degradation, dilution and downstream dispersal paid for by the health of the natural environment, human health and taxpayers money.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Tomorrow's Woolwich Observer (out today) describes the Cultural Heritage Landscape designation proposed for West Montrose that was discussed at Tuesday evening's public meeting held in Woolwich Council Chambers. In particular I enjoyed Steve Kannon's editorial (pg. 12) particularily his analysis of where the gravel pit application(s) are currently at. Steve suggests that under the current arangements, there is little in the way of incentive or positive outcomes which would encourage municipalities to readily accept, much less encourage local gravel extraction. He is absolutely correct. The norm is for the municipalities costs to rise via road maintenance, their citizens quality of life to fall and the environment, here in Waterloo Region that often being the Grand River to suffer negative consequences. Why then do local councils so routinely agree to gravel pit applications albeit with token unenforced "conditions" put on them? The answer is in the old political maxim " Lower tiers of government should not provoke or antagonize higher tiers of government". The reasons for this include higher levels of government (Provincial/Federal) tending to remember who's been naughty versus who's been nice at grant allocation time. Secondly any municipal politician with higher ambitions wanting a party nomination to run provincially or federally had better play nice with these folks ahead of time. For the last number of decades our municipal politicians here in Woolwich have played ball with their provincial counterparts to the extreme detriment of the local citizens. At long last we have a Council who may actually put the interests of Woolwich citizens ahead of their own and ahead of their provincial counterparts.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Today's posting is primarily in regards to a green company here in Elmira, namely Wind Simplicity. My comment on "wannabees" is in reference to local companies who may or may not be "green" but certainly their operations have become problematic in one way or the other. Local examples would include Varnicolor Chemical, Scavenger Recycling, Rothsay Concentrates, Terra Care, Sunfire and Flametech. Recently we've seen a geothermal technology company in town as well as an expansion at the Elmira Stove Works into solar panels. These last two are excellent examples of what we'd like to see more of.

Yesterday's Elmira Independent carries an article titled "Wind Simplicity wins provincial recycling award" written by Chuck Kuepfer. Apparently their wind turbine design is different and superior to others on the market, hence their provincial award. Again this is the kind of innovation that we would all like to see Elmira and area become famous for rather than some of our older and dirtier technologies such as Chemtura.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


This occurred last night at 7 pm. in the Woolwich Council Chambers. There was an excellent turnout from my former neighbours, the residents of West Montrose and area. Woolwich Staff began by describing the background to the CHL designation. They then further described many elements of the area which indeed qualify it as deserving of the Cultural Heritage Landscape designation. Finally their conclusion and recommendation to Council is that the West Montrose area should be so designated.

There were seven speakers from the audience who all enthusiastically endorsed staff's report and position. At the same time Councillor Bauman and Mayor Cowan as well as three of the speakers expressed the need to know unequivocally that the CHL designation while having major significance towards new "development" would not affect either on farm building nor individual residential additions or improvements. In my opinion staff clearly answered this by differentiating between existing homes and farm businesses versus new "development" be it industrial, aggregate or residential.

I am hopeful that last night's meeting will see this CHL designation go ahead with nearly unanimous support of the local residents.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


In the last year and a half plus I've written articles and presented them at public CPAC meetings as well as here in the Elmira Advocate (since last May), dealing with "other" sources of contamination to the Municipal Aquifer. For many years my understanding was that the Municipal Aquifers flowed mostly southerly in Elmira and the Upper Aquifer (UA) flowed to and discharged into Canagagigue Creek. Although technically correct what has since become clearer is that the UA has a groundwater divide. In other words as the surface of the ground dips and slopes towards the creek so does the underlying UA. Further away from the creek the UA also flows in a southerly direction as does the deeper aquifers. The significance is that if Varnicolor or Borg or any other sources south of Uniroyal (Chemtura) have contaminated the deeper Municipal Aquifer (MU) they've firstly contaminated the shallower UA. This shallow contamination with solvents of many kinds is what can possibly cause vapour intrusion into the basements of homes or businesses.

Cambridge literally has several hundred homes with this problem, all downgradient in the shallow aquifer (UA). There the culprit is Trichloroethylene (TCE) which is a very volatile solvent. Here we did have TCE in the groundwater courtesy of Varnicolor Chemical. Whether all the other solvents from Varnicolor or possibly Borg could volatolize into a gas and then move through the soil into basements would need to be tested. The fact is that we have many shallow wells south of Uniroyal and Varnicolor but they are NOT routinely tested. I've recently examined the Annual Monitoring Reports for 1996 (A.M.R. #15), 2000 (#19) and 2009 (#28). None of these have had the shallow wells from Howard Ave. south or southwest tested.

My conclusion is that when we finally get around to this testing, if indeed there are solvents in the shallow aquifer, then the obvious next step is to take air/gas readings in the basements of businesses and houses nearby. Maybe we'll get lucky, maybe not.