Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Todays's K-W Record has a Notice in their Local section regarding the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). This notice includes a map and a listing of affected Counties in Southern Ontario which encompasses Chatham-Kent in the extreme south-west through to Durham north-east of Toronto. This destructive insect was introduced via wooden shipping crates from China years ago and the movement of firewood/wooden pallets is still a primary method of its' spreading. I guess you could call this one more "benefit" of world wide trade. It is now illegal to move ash tree materials or firewood out of any of these Counties without written permission from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The lines of communication appear to have hit a snag in regards to the old Varnicolor site on Union St.. As I commented last Friday I have had no written response (e-mail or letter) from the M.O.E. to my eight questions and comments concerning the excavations done in mid July. Again it appears that there is absolutely nothing happening as the excavation stays open to the wind and rain. The piles of gravel have not been backfilled into the hole and it appears that all parties are undeterred by the optics of this alleged further remediation. These optics and non communication tend to reinforce the old attitude of it's not the public's business, trust us, we know what we are doing. Unfortunately this is Elmira and that trust is long gone.

Then we have the Mac's/ Becker's site. Here as of this morning, progress is being made. Furthermore there is a wire fence up to keep folks at a safe distance while at the same time permitting visual observation of the remediation. Also I might add the workers and supervisers are confident and comfortable in answering questions from the observing public in a straight forward manner. This is to be commended. A tanker truck was pumping out the remnants in the buried fuel tanks and the odours were practically non existent. I have been advised that they are expecting significant issues beneath the tanks and may well excavate as deep as thirty feet. My only complaint is that this should have been done years ago but better late than never. My compliments to the cleanup to date.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Volume 43, Issue 8 the 2011-2012 Hunting Annual edition has a bone to pick with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. This situation is bizarre. Apparently the M.O.E. has issued an Order to another Ministry (M.N.R. ie. Natural Resources). The Environment Minister's Order can be viewed at www. . For many years the Ministry of Natural resources in response to complaints and advice has been attempting to mitigate environmental damage done by cormorants. These birds not only devour large quantities of fish but their tree nesting en masse has literally killed trees, underbrush and other vegetation. Culling of cormorants has taken place as well as removal of nests in trees. Now apparently one provincial Ministry is placing a legal Order upon another essentially ordering them to assist cormorants by providing artificial ground-nesting sites. Regardless of which Ministry is right or wrong on the cormorant issue, don't Ontario taxpayers at least have the expectation that their provincial government will get their acts together on this issue? It is our money they are spending fighting and obstructing each other. Sheesh!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


This week's Elmira Independent carrys a "Notice Of A Proposal" in regards to an Anaerobic Digestion Facility, or in other words Bio-Fuel. This proposal is by ENS Poultry Inc. of 8th Line West Elora. This proposal has also been posted on line on the Environmental Registry ( Registry Number 011-4397). Although I really like the idea behind all these renewable energy projects something is making me uneasy and I haven't been able to put my finger on it. Time will certainly tell as to their economic viability and other considerations.

Yesterday's K-W Record also carried a Public Notice, this one being a Notice of Completion ...Biosolids Master Plan Update. Yup for those folks who don't know the terminology Biosolids are everything that isn't dissolved in the millions of gallons of wastewater (residential & industrial) which is treated and released mostly back into the Grand River here in Waterloo Region. They usually get spread on local farmers' fields as a fertilizer. This Notice however advises us that the Waterloo, Kitchener and Galt Sewage Treatment Plants (STP or WWTP-waste water treatment plant) will be upgraded and will be able to generate heat/electricity from WWTP biogas. Could it be that our local and provincial governments are actually thinking and planning ahead for the time when fossil fuels (petroleum) are no more? Again I'm hoping that this is so while looking over my shoulder for the other shoe to drop.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Nine days ago (Wed. Aug. 17/11) I e-mailed the Ministry of the Environment both in Hamilton and the Guelph District Office with eight questions/comments about the recent Varnicolor Chemical excavations. While I have had no difficulty in speaking with various M.O.E. officers in Guelph, to date I have no response to my specific written questions detailing peculiarities and inconsistencies in the explanations given for the excavation. While the M.O.E. officers to whom I have spoken seem to be quite satisfied with the ongoing remediation, the fact remains that twenty years ago we were told that with the excavations at that time combined with pumping and treating of groundwater; the entire site would be satisfactorily remediated within five to ten years. Now TWENTY YEARS later somebody has discovered that the pump and treat system needs to be expanded and enhanced. Is it possible that the citizens of Elmira were sold a bill of goods twenty years ago surrounding this site on Union St.? Is it probable as I have maintained for the last couple of years that indeed this site directly contributed to the poisoning of our drinking water aquifer? The M.O.E. ignored their own hydrogeological experts and their own Control Order twenty years ago. Now we are paying the price.

Two separate letters with two different views are published in today's (Aug. 27/11) Woolwich Observer. Laurie Jonkman of Elmira believes that the proposed bio-gas plant will be primarily negative for residents and nearby schoolchildren whereas Douglas Draper also of Elmira believes otherwise. While fundamentally agreeing with Ms. Jonkman I must acknowlege Mr. Draper's last point namely: "So if Bio-En is out of the question, coal plant in Elmira anyone?".

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Local municipal, gravel pit activist and former CPAC member, Lynne Hare has lost her son in the plane crash several days ago in Nunavut. My condolences to Lynne, her husband and other family members over this tragic loss.

I am cautiuosly optimistic after a happenstance conversation yesterday with an employee involved in the cleanup of this gas station and store on Arthur St.. The company doing the work are Superior Petroleum Maintenance out of Sault Ste. Marie and apparently Mac's have used their services before under similar circumstances. The fellow I talked to advised me that there would be significant excavation and that the job would be going on well into the fall. Approximately four years ago I worked for Quantum Environmental at the old Strauss Fuels depot on Arthur St. north. That cleanup job entailed a fuel depot which had been there literally for decades and was right beside Canagagigue Creek. I was amazed at how deep the fuel had gone and how odourus at times the cleanup was. For brief periods we would wear breathing apparatus when the fumes became strong. Hopefully it won't be that bad in downtown Elmira.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I posted yesterday morning about how slow the demolition and excavation was going. Sure enough they completed the demolition of the Mac's store yesterday. It's currently raining hard right now so I'm guessing the excavation won't happen today but we will see.

Today's Kitchener-Waterloo Record carrys this story on the front of their Local Section (B) : "UW to lead clean-water venture". Keep in mind that research and knowledge per se is a good thing. Keep in mind I have a son entering third year sciences at University. My daughter is nearing the end of her PHD in Biology. Clearly I can appreciate research being used for the benefit of mankind. What infuriates me is taxpayer and corporate funded research being used to lessen Business environmental responsibility. The last thing we need are more ways to stickhandle around pollution after the fact. What we really need is a no nonsense government attitude towards moitoring and enforcing current laws; not more ways to cheaply "fix" industry's penchant for externalizing their waste disposal costs upon the public.

This article states that seven universities including Guelph, Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier are involved with municipal governments and private companies. Let me guess who some of these private companies will be. How about consulting firms, major chemical manufacturers and the like. As far as Municipalities go they are amongst the worst offenders with their penchant for protecting local industrial polluters. "Ontario can become "a leading global player in the development of innovative water technologies," he said." Innovative water technologies which are used to sucessfully clean up past pollution is one thing; these technologies used to excuse or mitigate responsibility are entirely different. Similarily new technolgies for after the fact, end of the pipe remediation are a very bad thing. Stop the immoral and illegal disposal into our air and water in the first place. This is both the strength and weakness of human beings. We are extremely resourceful but for money and power our political leaders usually misuse and abuse this technological resourcefulness.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


A week ago today I posted that an excavator was being unloaded at the MAC's store on Arthur St. in downtown Elmira. These big machines don't come cheap. Afte a week some brickwork has been removed from the building and that's it. The rest of this small store is still standing. Meanwhile the house beside the Short Stop on Church St. (Hwy # 86) is gone after two days work with a similar excavator. What the heck is going on??? Are we having some second thoughts in regards to potential odours? Is there some delay in getting permits for the disposal of the gasoline contaminated soil? Similar to the "cleanup" at the old Varnicolor site, something seems to be amiss.

Last Wednesday I posted here my list of concerns which I had e-mailed to the Ministry of the Environment concerning the recent (several weeks ago now) excavations on their former 62 Union St. site. One of my concerns had to do with the reason given for the excavations namely to install more collector pipes for the groundwater pump and treat system. As we had close to seven or eight weeks without rain, the shallow water table would have been greatly lowered making construction both easier and faster yet nothing was being done. Sure enough now we're getting some rain which was to be expected. Despite this the water table is still low but this will not last much longer. Ususally with the arrival of September and fall the water table rises again after the summer's dry period. Therefore when one drives by the site as recently as last night, absolutely nothing appears to be happening. The huge piles of gravel are still there on the surface. What are they waiting for? Keep in mind my first posting about these excavations back on August 12/11 suggested that this was an attempt to air out and remediate the soil. Tell me that isn't so.

Monday, August 22, 2011


My wife brought home this week a three page pamphlet she received during a visit to see a play in Blyth Ontario. The title of the pamphlet is "Is This How You Want To See Ontario's West Coast?". The document was produced by concerned citizens of Huron County. For existing and proposed Turbine Sites by County a website is given namely: . My first impression was one of shock when I looked at the two maps provided. At first glance it appeared as if from Grand Bend in the south, northwards to Amberley was one solid wall of wind turbines. Then the other map shows almost as many from Amberley heading north past Inverhuron not quite all the way up to Southampton. Reading the literature more carefully indicates that there are 422 proposed wind turbine projects.

I suppose it makes sense to attempt to locate wind turbines along the "west coast" of Ontario. Afterall today's news is filled with the tornado that devastated parts of Goderich yesterday. Clearly under normal circumstances there is substantial wind coming off of Lake Huron. All this being said in favour of wind energy I can from experience state that it takes an awful lot to get people en masse riled up. It takes an awful lot to get Canadians riled up. Surely the government of the day isn't so confident of future electoral victory that they can afford to alienate voters unnecessarily. Can they not be more stringent in where they agree to locate these turbines?

Saturday, August 20, 2011


July's on site pumping (hydraulic containment) was the second lowest it's been in the last nineteen months. In a sense this is an indication that since the start of 2010 on site pumping has been actually very relaible as July's average pumping was 5.2 liters/sec. Of greater concern is the offsite pumping which has been poor for the last two months in a row. On a longer comparative basis however offsite pumping has been below target six of the last nine months. This again tends to leap out as the pumping for the first ten months of 2010 was consistently above target rates. All in all I suggest the long term trend of up and down pumping with great inconsistency continues on. Even pretty reliable well E7 at the south end of Elmira had electrical problems and fell below its' target rate this past month.

Table A.1 shows us analytical data concerning the combined on and off site treatment systems. The influent from Yara (Nutrite) shows us the expected high Ammonia readings but also of significance are the Chlorobenzene and NDMA readings. While neither one is of prizewinning proportions nevertheless contrary to the public perception, they do appear to be homegrown (as in Yara) contamination versus from Chemtura next door. Toluene from the Upper Aquifer wells and Chlorobenzene from PW5 are extraordinarily high and prove the existence of free phase LNAPL and DNAPL still existing in the southwest subsurface of Chemtura.

Table A.3 also shows us data for the treatment system and the prizewinning largest number of individual contaminants still goes to the Upper Aquifer wells. Clearly more through good luck than management the bulk of the contaminants are still shallow and haven't yet all moved downwards into the deeper aquifers.

Table C.2 deals with surface water in the Canagagigue Creek and as usual careful comparison of the upstream averages versus downstream shows us the presence of NDMA, NMOR, Ethylbenzene and Toluene in the creek. Trust me there are lots more goodies than that however between method detection limits and not testing for all compounds lots gets missed.

This is a typical "Progress Report". Hydraulic containment continues to slow the leakage and spread horizantly while doing almost nothing towards source removal. Future generations will look back in disgust with what was and wasn't done here in Elmira.

Friday, August 19, 2011


In yesterday's Elmira Independent (pg. 11) we have the story by the same name as the title above. Woolwich Councillors have finally approved this pit although some comprimises were necessary. The vertical zoning clause dealing with the depth of extraction is in whereas the sunset clause dealing with a maximum time limit for the operation of the pit is out. Nevertheless it seems very likely that this pit and others will be in front of the Ontario Municipal Board (O.M.B.) even though the Region of Waterloo are on side with the Municipality. The real problem lies with the Province and their Ministry of Natural Resources (M.N.R.). So many decades of support for developers and the gravel industry, including overly friendly legislation from the Province have given us an undemocratic process aided and abetted by this same biased legislation.

Page 5 of this week's Woolwich Observer has a photograph of the site on Arthur St. as well as an excavator. I am very interested in how much contaminated soil they remove versus how much stays.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Today's K-W Record (pg. A1) carries this story: "Environment ministry memo propels anti-turbine sentiment". Wind Concerns Ontario is an umbrella group representing 57 local organizations dealing with wind farms in their neighbourhoods. A spokesperson for the Belwood Wind farm Association points out in this article that our provincial government certainly knew ahead of time that there were issues with noise prior to to the enactment of the Green Energy Act. Belwwod is just a few miles north of Fergus and our own Woolwich township. I believe that these wind energy issues of our neighbours will soon be on our doorsteps.

I am still more and more impressed with the direction that Ontario's Green Energy Act is going however I am less and less impressed with the government attitude displayed around the rights of individuals. It is not appropriate to rely on the benefit to the majority as justification for the reduction of the enjoyment of life to the minority. Similar to our Bio-En situation here in Elmira there must be a way found to incorporate green energy without direct and unpleasant cost to nearby citizens.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


The big mistake we made twenty years ago was in thinking that we had fixed everything. The M.O.E.'s District office got back to me yesterday and their final story is reasonably close to the one I received from a person close to the company and site last Friday. Both those stories however are significantly different than the original one I was told from third parties last Thursday. The M.O.E.'s position is that the excavation is a proponent driven attempt to improve/increase the number and length of lateral pipes used in the collection of groundwater for treatment on this site. The M.O.E. also states that there was "hardpan" below the surface which was blocking flow of groundwater into the collection pipes and thus was removed.

These following questions and comments will be sent by me back to the Guelph District office of the Ministry of the Environment.
1) The Remedial Action Plan of 1991 (Golder & Assoc.) claimed that the site would be clean within five to ten years. What happened?

2) The current excavation is located directly above the former leaking Tank farm #1.

3) The original hydrogeological investigations intentionally ignored the promises and Control Order demanding deep boreholes and monitoring wells on this site. There were two deeper monitoring wells put in in 1994 and despite ongoing requests from myself I have yet to receive any data from them.

4) The only "deep" well originally installed in 1986 (M2-1) into the Upper Aquifer versus the Surficial aquifer only had groundwater readings taken in 1986 and 1987. Indeed Varnicolor's chemicals were found in this "deeper" aquifer at that time.

5) Other Upper Aquifer wells in the area but offsite including CH43 and CH68 and CH69 immediately across Union St. from Varnicolor have also had solvents found in them. They could not have come from Uniroyal as theirs discharge into the Canagagigue Creek.

6) The current owners of the site are attempting to obtain a Record of Site Condition. I do not know what the criteria are however clearly this document can not claim that the site is "clean" down to and including the Municipal drinking water aquifer which exists below the site. This is because this aquifer is contaminated with NDMA (& lots more) above the drinking water standards and the best case scenario, unlikely as it is, is that it will be contaminated until 2028.

7) Almost last but not least this pit was allegedly dug to give access to installing more lateral collection pipes. Fine but this hole has been open for more than three weeks and NOTHING is happening. If the reason was as we have been told then why hasn't it happened? When will it happen? Will it ever happen?

8) There were odour complaints in the neighbourhood weeks ago. I'm attempting to talk to more local folks to see how extensive these odours were. Any further info will be shared here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I wrote about this impending demolition and contaminated soil cleanup on July 30/11 here in the Advocate. It always seems a little weird to me the glacial speed involved when the authorities actually get around to cleaning up contaminated sites. Clearly the criteria is to maximize the convenience for the property/business owner. Last summer some of the contaminated soil at the old Steddick Hotel beside this property was removed.

As we speak a very large excavator is being unloaded on this site on Arthur St. in Elmira and I wouldn't be surprised if either buildings or earth actually get removed today. A steel fence went up last week to keep pedestrians at a safe distance. Elmira residents you don't need to feel shy about keeping an eye on this excavation after all we all share this planet. It would be nice to know if they remove everything or just skim the surface and rubber stamp the "cleanup".

Monday, August 15, 2011


Twenty years ago they got caught red handed in untruths, repeatedly, yet they did not throw in the towel and go straight so to speak. Rich Clausi, Ted Oldfield and myself served their "terminological inexactitudes" up to them on a platter and made fools out of them. Nevertheless they were sucessful with the big picture. They claimed that Varnicolor Chemical was small potatoes compared to Uniroyal when it came to the destruction of the Municipal drinking water aquifer. In fact if the NDMA standard for example is .009 parts per billion (ppb) and Uniroyal contributes 20 ppb and Varnicolor 1 ppb , isn't Varnicolor's contribution in this hypothetical example still 100 times greater than the drinking water standard?

We knew twenty years ago that the M.O.E. had reneged on all promises to install deep monitoring wells at the Union St. site. They had also studiously avoided deep boreholes and soil samples which as has been discussed previously would have been the smoking gun. What we didn't know was that the UA or Upper aquifer flowed southwest versus east towards the Canagagigue Creek. What we also didn't know or appreciate was the very inadequate and insubstantial aquitard beneth varnicolor. This aquitard is supposed to be a confining layer, hopefully with clay which would protect deeper aquifers. In reality there is minimal clay, lots of silt and some cobbles and gravel throughout. The other interesting point is that there were two suggested remedial strategies both supposed to cleanup the site within five to ten years. The bigger more expensive and supposedly faster one was done and yet here it is twenty years later and the pump and treat system is still going. WHY?

All of these questions are relevant to the excavations done a few weeks ago. I am still waiting for answers from the M.O.E. and as well have opened a conversation with a third involved party. Whatever the truth in this situation it should not come at the expense of people who bear absolutely zero responsibility for the contamination in the first place. Whatever needs to be done should belatedly be done but for me that puts the hook squarely on the Ontario M.O.E., nobody else.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


A little bit of news and considerably more thought, questions and speculation regarding this site. I have now received two more versions as to why the very large hole was excavated over two weeks ago. Both of these versions are less dramatic and more innocuous than the one I received late Thursday and posted here yesterday morning. One of these versions was in answer to my query to the Ontario M.O.E. District Office in Guelph. They emphasized that their understanding had as yet not been confirmed as they were sending an Officer out to observe first hand. The other source of information had a different story but it is possible that when the smoke clears there could be some elements in common with the M.O.E.'s understanding.

A couple of points need to be kept in focus. Twenty years ago when the remediation of this site was started, yours truly was very much in the early days of learning about hydrogeology. All of us at APTE were easy pickings for company or M.O.E. B/S. Secondly the current owners of this site had virtually zero to do with contaminating it. What I would like to know is what conditions or information was given to them in regards to the environmental status of the site prior to their purchase of it. I have repeatedly here in the Advocate made it clear that I believe there was a sweetheart deal between the M.O.E. and Uniroyal/Chemtura twenty years ago which gave Uniroyal 100% responsibility for the destruction of the Elmira Aquifer. Clearly that was false and the initial proof became public around 2000 by the admission that Ammonia contamination of the Elmira Aquifer came primarily from Nutrite/Yara.

At this point in time I have a lot of questions as to why a shallow pump and treat system is still operating twenty years after the shallow sources were all allegedly removed. My belief is that everything below 5 or 6 feet was ignored and is still down there. If this is so then operating a shallow pump and treat system now is ineffective and perhaps only window dressing. Regardless the newer owners should not be on the hook for the sins of either the older or of the Ontario M.O.E..

Friday, August 12, 2011


Normally I don't mind throwing stones at those who routinely use deception, trickery, prevaricating and wealth all with malice aforethought in order to make /save more money by doing environmental damage. I am going to try and avoid editorializing here because I just don't know what all is going on. The facts are this: Sitting on Union St. in Elmira, looking west while between First Ave. and Howard Ave. you will see very large piles of gravel. They are sitting on the old Varnicolor Chemical site. Behind them is a very large excavation that I originally estimated as eight feet deep by 75' x 75'. On second estimation I believe 8' deep by 50' x 50'. Nevertheless I spoke with two people present in the area and asked them what was being built there as it certainly appeared that this was an excavation for footings and a basement. Their answer stunned me particularily so as hindsight is twenty/twenty and I had received complaints about odours over the last few weeks nearby. The answer was that nothing was being built, the owner was "airing out the soil". Keep in mind that this site was "remediated" twenty years ago with massive removals of contaminated soil being replaced with clean fill. I pointed this out and again was stunned by the directness and knowledge of the response. Yes the top few feet of gravel were clean but below that the clay is saturated and very contaminated. If the owner "XYZ" wants to develop or build or sell he has to clean up the soil first. Well this is a first for me as it appears to be a home made probably illegal environmental cleanup. I phoned the M.O.E. both in Hamilton and Guelph and talked to Officers I know personally and neither of them had any knowledge of remediation or current excavations on the old Varnicolor site. The ramifications of this information are quite dramatic and more will follow here.

Today's Elmira Independent gives us further proof that the new Woolwich Council are following through on their election promises. The story "Township opposes Hunder gravel pit" advises the readers that this proposed pit between Conestogo and Winterbourne is contrary to good planning values. That being said many other gravel pits have gone ahead despite huge negative impacts on neighbours. The difference here so far is a Council who have the old fashioned quaint idea that they represent more than the wishes of the well off elite including developers. Also included would be the efforts of the residents in the area who are putting their time and money where their mouths are. Kudos to them for hanging in there.

Two days ago I received an answer from the Ministry of the Environment (Environmental Bill of Rights office) regarding the Application for Review filed by myself and former CPAC member Ken Driedger. As expected with the fox firmly in charge of the henhouse they said no they would not review the state of public consultation here in Elmira dealing with Uniroyal/Chemtura. Following is my response to them also sent to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and others.

August 11, 2011 EBR # 11 EBR004.R

One major point needs to be made up front in regards to public consultation here in Elmira over the last twenty years plus. It has been an intentional sham riddled with deceit and manipulation by both the Provincial and Municipal governments. For example only recently have I or the general public been made aware of the allegation on page 2 of the Decision Summary that “….CPAC was formed as a committee of the township council…” in 1992. I would dismiss this allegation out of hand as simply one more in a long list of prevarications that the Elmira public have been subjected to except that recently a former township councillor has told me the very same thing. Imagine my surprise as I’ve been continuously involved since day one and a member of UPAC/CPAC from 1992-94 and 2000-2007. Furthermore in 1999-2000 we had a major debate at CPAC as to whether we should BECOME a committee of council. This has been for me one of the overarching themes of this version of public consultation here in Elmira. Deals are made first and privately and then later if the wish or need arises they are discussed as if they are a current, new issue.
A second example of the foregoing reprehensible behaviour is the June 21, 2000 Amending order itself. It was only in 2007 during my Leave to Appeal a Certificate of Approval to the Environmental Review Tribunal that I and the general public became aware that this Order even existed. Both the Chair of CPAC (Pat McLean) and other long time CPAC members claimed they had no knowledge of this Amending order and publicly said so. Furthermore over the time frame of 2000-20007 the issue of full hydraulic containment was raised and argued literally dozens of times in the presence of the M.O.E. and Chemtura, yet NOT ONCE did either of them say : Oh don’t you remember, we amended that order (1991) in 2000. Once again the Order (1991) was amended first quietly and THEN CPAC literally spent the next 3-4 years arguing, discussing and debating whether this should ever come about. I personally thought that it had died a natural and appropriate death after we learned that the hydraulic high just off the west side of Chemtura was in fact a “phantom” mound that simply did not exist. Yours truly found this fact neatly buried in a monthly Progress Report. It had been a huge issue for years yet ZERO mention was made publicly and or at CPAC when the experts determined it was an artifice.

On page two the Decision Summary states: “Furthermore, the ministry cannot order a company to form a township committee.” No one has suggested that you should. What has been suggested is that the ministry CAN order honest, INDEPENDENT public consultation. To date you have not and it appears that now you are blatantly refusing to do so.

The M.O.E. are now suggesting that a private group of citizens (Apte-Chemtura) meeting in private, who are obviously very amenable to the polluter (Chemtura) are now representing the citizens of Elmira : “…in essence providing two avenues of public consultation.”. This is outrageous and total nonsense.
In regards to my allegations that the current CPAC is a puppet of the local council let me say this. The curent, new Council made the appointments from a list which included all the old CPAC members. None of them were wanted by the new Council with the possible exception of Ken Driedger and that was by my lobbying on his behalf. This same new Council delayed appointments to the new CPAC for a ridiculous length of time and then they further delayed calling any public meetings for another ridiculous length of time. Finally when the new CPAC members which included yours truly started to push hard for some action/meetings the new Council with five minutes in camera discussion decided to kick me off, prior to even the first public meeting. Yet again just yesterday the Mayor who replaced the Council member originally appointed as chair of CPAC appears to have unilaterally postponed the CPAC meeting scheduled for August 25/11.
So with the benefit of hindsight I would clearly state that this version of CPAC is completely controlled by Woolwich Council. The Council can “hire & fire”, controls the Agenda (so far) and the meeting dates (so far). The hindsight relates to the specific members of this new CPAC. They have impressed me with their seriousness, general knowledge and ability and most importantly with their honesty. In brackets above I have put the words “so far”. It is my hope that these members can impress the Mayor (Chair) and Council that they will do a better job and be recognized by the general public as their legitimate representatives if they have at least a modicum of independence and democratic control over their own process.
In regards to “independent” public consultation, let me say this. There is no independence when the membership, agenda and scheduling of meetings are controlled outside of the public advisory committee. This is one reason why we have made such little progress in an actual cleanup of the Uniroyal/Chemtura site. Again in hindsight I am seeing a much greener more environmentally conscious Woolwich Council than I have ever seen before. That being said while I will continue to assist CPAC members on technical issues, and continue to remain involved (21 years and counting) , it is very clear to me that this model of public consultation is inherently designed to be controlled by those in authority.

Alan Marshall Elmira Environmental Hazards Team

Thursday, August 11, 2011


This week's Council meeting (Tuesday evening) indicates that our new Council are not backing off on their commitments in regards to gravel pits or the proposed Bio-En facility. Council have sent in their formal comments to the M.O.E. and continue to express displeasure with the location of Bio-En on Martin's lane in Elmira. This may be a formality as we hope that both parties are discussing feasible alternatives that will both please the neighbouring residents and still make this worthwhile green energy project viable.

In regards to the Lockhart Pit on Middlebrook Rd., two outstanding and difficult issues are being dealt with. While all comments on the history of this pit have been positive nevertheless Woolwich staff have been pushing two issues namely vertical zoning and a sunset clause. The Region of Waterloo are also in agreement with township staff as to the necessity for vertical zoning ie. depth to the water table however the province and Ministry of Natural resources (M.N.R.) are not. The sunset clause refers to a maximum time period that the pit can remain open and working versus the normal situation whereby they just go on forever. There seems to be more agreement on this issue than the other. I am pleased to see a Municipal Council sticking to their guns on an issue, rather than rolling over as most Councils have done in the past, so as not to upset the province. The province are wrong and the local Council are right.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Thanks to the new CPAC and member David Marks in particular. Here in the Advocate on Friday July 29/11 I mentioned his request to the MInistry of the Environment for them to present a rationale at the next public CPAC meeting (Aug. 25/11) as to why they dismissed the possibility of other sources of contamination to the Elmira drinking water aquifer over twenty years ago.

At last month's CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) meeting Chemtura handed out a report by their consultants CRA titled "Work Plan Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport Model Update". What has caught my eye is Table 2.2 "Soil Analytical Results Chemtura Canada". These are soil anaylses done of mostly off-site borings. The two most extraordinary ones are at CH47 and CH44 both on the Nutrite/Yara property. As mentioned in yesterday's Advocate posting, soil samplings have the huge advantage of being much more difficult to fudge source areas than groundwater samples. We all knew that Nutrite/Yara contributed Ammonia and Phosphorus to the drinking water aquifer. This Table however shows massive contamination in the soil of both NDMA AND CHLOROBENZENE! The public release of Nutrite in approximately 1999 as a second source (Ammonia) cracked the door to the truth open. My discovery of off-site DNAPL (Chlorobenzene) by the water tower (OW57-32) two years ago opened it wider. I believe that the Ontario M.O.E. and Chemtura have some serious explaining to do if Nutrite also contributed to the destruction of the Elmira Aquifer with NDMA and Chlorobenzene.

A local commercial excavator (Digger Dave Holmes) reported his findings to the M.O.E. after digging on the Varnicolor site in 1989. About four feet below ground surface, the hole he was digging began filling in with a combination of groundwater and free phase solvents. The odours and visuals were very bad. He first reported this to Varnicolor senior staff who immediately ordered the hole to be backfilled. Not only have we since learned that indeed there were free phase solvents floating on the water table but that the fill above the Municipal Aquifer consisted of pit run in many places. Pit run is very coarse gravel with lots of stones and rocks in it. Basically both solvents and surface water would flow vertically downwards through this fill extraordinarily quickly. One of the Varnicolor hydrogeological reports suggested that the downward vertical migration would be about seven feet per year. This would be through the "aquitard" as through the pit run would be more likely seven feet per day. Varnicolor polluted this site for thirty years.

It is long past due for the Elmira public to be told the truth .

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


There is considerably more wiggle room when working with concentrations of dissolved chemicals in groundwater versus chemical concentrations in soil. Groundwater is constantly flowing, albeit slowly, but nevertheless it is possible to have a source of contaminants literally hundreds of yards away or more from a monitoring well with dissolved chemicals in it. With a soil sample however, what you get is indicative of the level of contamination in the soil, right there. Certainly over time precipitation can aid in dissolving and diluting soil contamination. Various consultants like to brag about "natural attenuation". This also includes microbial and bacterial breakdown of chemical contaminants. Possible but oh so slow. If you know the direction of groundwater flow you can also determine, especially via shallow wells whether a groundwater monitoring well is picking up nearby contamination or not. For example if the well is downgradient from a service station and it has high levels of toluene and xylenes then you are picking up evidence of leaking fuel tanks immediately upgradient.

In Elmira I would estimate that we the public have been given literally 1,000 groundwater results for evry soil sample. I am including Chemtura, Yara and the two Varnicolor sites. It is my expectation that many more soil samples have been taken but simply not shared with John Q. Public and for a very good (bad) reason. The soil samples would immediately identify source areas of contamination. The last few years I've become aware of multiple soil samples contaminated with NDMA and Chlorobenzene existing not only at shallow depths but even 100 feet below the surface. It is much more difficult to fudge and hide your source areas with soil testing than with groundwater testing, which is precisely why here in Elmira we have so little published soil testing.

The smaller companies pollution existed for decades in the shadow of the big fish in town namely Uniroyal/Chemtura. After the drinking wells were finally shut down the government made a sweetheart deal with Uniroyal for them to take all the blame.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Giant Hogweed, Wild Parsnip, Purple Loosestrife, Emerald Ashborer, Round Gobies, Asian Carp : where does it all end? More importantly where and how did it all start? Is this the to be expected result of greater world wide travel of goods and people? Certainly the Emerald Ashborer entered Canada via wooden packing crates from China. Some of these invasive plants have been intentionally introduced from Europe including the Buckthorn. This week's Elmira Independent (Aug.4/11) has a story titled "Fighting invasive Buckthorn". It apparently is degrading diversity of other trees and plants in the Grand River watershed. Guelph seems to be the epicentre. The common Buckthorn or European Buckthorn is listed provincially on the Weed Control Act as a nuisance weed but is thriving nevertheless.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Currently Conestoga Rovers on behalf of Chemtura are "investigating" GP1 & 2 on the south-east corner of their site. According to their two work plans dated June 30 and July 28/11 they "...will excavate the test pits to a minimum depth of 4 metres below ground surface (mbgs), the top of the UA1, or the maximum reach of the excavator bucket, whichever comes first.". They have massaged the wording very slightly in their July 28/11 Work plan which is what caught my attention. The June Work plan evoked my response "well just get a bigger excavator". Afterall the depth of the excavation should be based on what you are finding as you dig, not on an arbitrary reach of an excavator bucket. After rereading the two reports I now understand that the real issue is the top of UA1 (Upper aquifer 1). CRA over the years have produced numerous stratigraphic cross-sections. Both David M. and Ron C. on the new CPAC will be familiar with what these are. Unfortunately unlike myself they do not have a twenty year plus library of technical documents produced by Uniroyal/Chemtura consultants.

Stratigraphic cross-sections are drawings of the below ground makeup showing things like clay layers, sand and gravel layers etc. They show a cross-section (sideways view) of what is below . I've looked at several produced by CRA and they all show that in the south-east corner where GP1&2 are located there is no fill or surficial aquitard. The UA or upper aquifer is present right at the surface. One of these cross-sections runs from OW69 through to CH19 or in other words a significant length of GP1. The other cross-section runs from CRA3 through to CH19. This is on the extreme southern border of Chemtura , parallel to GP2 and literally only a few metres below (south) of it. Hence CRA's Work Plan says that they will excavate the test pits to the top of the UA1 which is ground surface. Later today or tommorrow I will e-mail these cross-sections to all CPAC members.

Friday, August 5, 2011


The front page of tommorrow's Woolwich Observer has the story "Public feedback supports continuing Elmira bus route". Apparently the Open House in June regarding Route # 21 was well attended and all feedback was very positive. It appears as if this is good news and will help Woolwich Council justify the expense that the Township will have in order to keep this service running. Clearly when comparing this to the proposed LRT (light rapid transit) in K-W, we are comparing apples to oranges.

This occurred at the K-W Record yesterday and the story is titled "Greenpeace extols virtues of green energy over nuclear". A key element for me is that electricity demand has fallen not risen in the last 5-6 years. This is a result of both public conservation programs as well as the loss of major industry throughout Ontario. Further estimates indicate that electricity demand will continue to fall for at least the next seven years. Greenpeace are praising the Liberals' Green Energy Act as the way to go via renewable energy. At the same time they are criticizing the building or expansion of current nuclear reactors. A number of K-W "green energy" leaders are also praised by Greenpeace.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Last Thursday July 28/11 I posted here that I had received a letter regarding this proposed gravel pit beside the Gold Course Rd. subdivision in Conestogo. Yesterday I went down to the Woolwich Township offices and was told that yes they would e-mail me this 11 page Township Engineering Report. I then drove home and lo and behold there it was already on my computer. I am quite surprised by this report. The supremacy of the Aggregate Resources Act in regards to the rights of citizens and Municipalities has long been a given. This Report prepared by Woolwich Staff is quite a departure from my understanding that most Municipalities would rather throw in the towel than get into a losing, expensive fight at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The saying that comes to my mind is that "Fools walk where angels fear to tread". At the same time keep something very much in focus. The Aggregate Resources Act should have been abolished or severely amended decades ago. It is a contemptible piece of legislation trampling upon citizens rights. This new Council were elected to basically fight it. It appears that they are so doing. WOW! What is wrong with this picture? Have we in Woolwich actually elected, at long last, a Council which will follow through on their promises? The public meeting/Council meeting to discuss this is next Tuesday in the Council Chambers at 7 pm.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


The CIAC or Chemistry Institute Association of Canada has been holding a Verification study/analysis at Chemtura for the last several weeks. The C.C.P.A. or Chemical Producers Association of Canada were the forerunners to the C.I.A.C.. Aside from a hundred other past reasons to deny this Responsible Care* verification to Chemtura, there are three recent ones. Firstly and most recently, Dwight Este of Chemtura lied by omission. O.K. O.K. semantics here. Is the word "lie" appropriate especially when it's by omission? Also other Chemtura folks (Jeff & Josef) were present when he did this and certainly did not correct him. Dwight advised CPAC and Chair (Mayor) Cowan that they only needed one citizen representative after yours truly had advised both CPAC and Woolwich Council that two were required! Chemtura already had National Advisory Panel member and local resident Pat McLean on board. This they failed to share with CPAC. STRIKE ONE.

STRIKE TWO deals with last fall's release of BLE-25 a mixture of Acetone and Diphenylamine (DPA). The release was due to outdated rupture disc technology. To date Chemtura have given no reasons other than the obvious one (money) as to why a large emergency pressure vessel is not on site connected to their batch process pressure vessels. Rupture discs are designed to fail when the pressure in a vessel exceeds design limits. Then they are designed to release the contents of the vessel to Chemtura's neighbours as they did again last fall. This is Responsible Care*?

STRIKE THREE has to do with Chemtura's (and the M.O.E.'s) failure to advise and announce to the community and Township that they had had a release, in a timely fashion, last fall. The Community Alert Network should have been activated as well as their siren and an immediate phone call to Woolwich Township was in order. None of the above occurred. This is Responsible Care* ?

I freely admit my bias in regards to industry led public relations organizations. I will admit to being impressed when the C.C.P.A. repeatedly refused Uniroyal/Crompton/Chemtura the Responsible Care* designation through the early 2000's. I was equally unimpressed when they received it in 2008. To my knowledge that fact was not reported in our local papers. It should have been or was it a secret? I have felt that the old CPAC aided and abetted Chemtura's success via their penchant for private negotiations. What did they receive in turn? Meanwhile the ball is back in the C.I.A.C.'s court. If they verify/approve Chemtura this time then they are indeed nothing but a mouthpiece for irresponsible chemical polluters. If on the other hand they withhold their approval, then once again I must reconsider my position regarding their whole program. P.S. STRIKE FOUR could certainly be Chemtura's self serving attempt at undermining a new, revitalized and aggressive CPAC via their acceptance and promotion of a private alternative group. Shame on them!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Today's K-W Record has a story titled "Woolwich landowner ordered to remove fill". Apparently the landowner was filling in a low spot on his property which was near a wetland. The impetus for the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) action was complaints from a neighbour. This inherently is a hit and miss method of environmental protection. The location of the property is on Shantz Station Rd. near Maryhill.

There certainly is an element here of slamming the gate after the horse has bolted. Dave Schultz of the GRCA advises us that " the Grand River watershed about 65% of wetlands have been lost...". We are also advised that in reference to the charges laid on this particular individual "... actions like this are relatively small given the amount of legal development that happens in a year.". This is what concerns me. How seriously difficult (or expensive) is it to obtain a permit from the GRCA for a larger development including residential subdivisions? The GRCA have a poor record in actually prohibiting development in inappropriate locations. At one time their nickname was the Grand River Construction Authority.

I admit a certain bias based however on their behaviour in Elmira. While Varnicolor's Lot 91 was in the news for illegal storage and dumping and burying of solvents (& P.C.B.'s), they the GRCA gave approval for the construction of concrete tank farms on Lot 91 in the floodplain of the Canagagigue Creek. In fact that site is bordered on two sides by Landfill Creek and the "GiG". That was in 1991. Today we still have pro development Councillors in all Municipalities and hence I have to ask the obvious question. How difficult is it for these pro development folks to change their hats when they attend a GRCA meeting? Who are we kidding?

Monday, August 1, 2011


I have just handed out a map of the town of Elmira. Chemtura are labeled by name , just below Church St. on the right side of the page. To the immediate left or west of Chemtura the letter N is marked and stands for Nutrite or Yara. Below Chemtura we have the letters STP for Sewage Treatment Plant. Left or southwest of the STP we have the letter V for Varnicolor Chemical. This is Varnicolor’s 62 Union St. site. Directly below or south of the STP we have the letter L. This stands for Landfill as in First St. Landfill. Currently this site is occupied by the Region of Waterloo Transfer Station. Chemtura plus other local industry enjoyed dumping priveleges in this landfill decades ago. Again below or south of the Landfill we have another V for Varnicolor. This was Varnicolor’s infamous Lot 91. Solvents were stored, leaked and dumped on this site for years. P.C.B.’s and other toxic goodies were discovered buried in leaking drums on this site. Due west or left of Lot 91 and due south of Varnicolor’s Union St. site we have the letter B standing for Borg Textiles. With the exception of a couple of local citizens, namely Rich Clausi and myself, this site has escaped all scrutiny as a potential polluter and contributer to the south wellfield contamination. The letter S, south and west of Borg stands for Sanyo Canadian. Their claim to toxic fame may possibly be no more than their proximity to Well CH38 which historically has had inappropriately high NDMA concentrations. If one were to draw a straight line from Pumping Well 4 (PW4) to the south wellfield marked as E7 , just a couple of inches below Sanyo on the map, one could not help but notice that the line from the most heavily contaminated area at Chemtura (PW4) neatly bisects many other contaminated sites along the way. This is of concern as in the early days of the 1989 well shutdowns , many experts expected nearby contaminant sources to be the cause, not Uniroyal. It was two years later in the middle of an adjourned Environmental Appeal Board hearing that the M.O.E. and Uniroyal did their private deal, assigning all blame to Uniroyal. This map, common sense and hard evidence of Chlorobenzene behind Varnicolor , high NDMA at well CH38 and little or no Aquitard below Varnicolor’s Lot 91 , say otherwise. Further to Lot 91 at least two Uniroyal employees had seen and reported to the M.O.E., dumping on Lot 91. I saw dumping with my own eyes and evidence above and beyond buried drums, of massive, ongoing liquid solvent dumping on this site. I stand here before you and tell you that employees plural of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment were exposed as covering up pollution evidence as well as of being untruthful, by Richard Clausi, Ted Oldfield and myself, all members at the time of APT Environment.
None of the above mentioned pollution , to my knowledge, includes Dioxins. These members of the dirty dozen are in a class of their own and need to be removed from Chemtura. For the last two years I have been bringing this information and evidence of other sources to public CPAC meetings. The Chlorobenzene is in the form of DNAPL and was discovered by CRA , 100 feet below the surface, in 1998. I found it in one of their old monthly Progress Reports two years ago. To this day neither Chemtura nor the M.O.E. have so much as confirmed or denied the existence of this off-site pollution publicly here at CPAC. Past CPAC members themselves have refused to discuss or question this information. I have quoted in writing the exact report and page numbers and not a whisper from CRA, Chemtura , the M.O.E., or the old CPAC . This is why you will never have drinking water out of the Elmira Aquifer. There is and has been an ongoing conspiracy to deceive the public. The whole public premise of the cleanup has been to isolate and contain Chemtura’s buried wastes on site , while simultaneously pumping and treating DISSOLVED contamination off-site. While I believe that this is currently unachievable anyways; the presence of below ground, unremediated multiple sources of contamination throughout the Elmira Aquifer make this a fantasy. CPAC your mandate is to ensure that we have our local drinking water restored. You are being grossly deceived and misled by Chemtura and their friends.

Alan Marshall Elmira Environmental Hazards Team