Friday, September 30, 2011


O.K. it's taken five months and four public CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) meetings for me to say this but here goes: Mayor Todd Cowan is both doing a good job as Chair and is fulfilling his campaign promises regarding environmental cleanup in Elmira and at Chemtura. I am not suggesting perfection as evidenced by a minor fooferaw between him and another CPAC member. This difference of opinion regarding either the Chair's behaviour (interrupting) or his authority over citizen volunteers was resolved with all parties probably having learned from it. What I found most interesting was Mayor Cowan's attempt as a nuetral Chair to moderate the criticism if not harshness of some citizen's (moi) and some CPAC members comments towards Chemtura/M.O.E. . At one time I might have viewed his conciliatory comments towards Chemtura as either counter productive or a betrayal but in fact, as the Chair, they are probably totally appropriate.

As is Standard Operating Procedure Chemtura will not be bringing the soil & water results from GP1 & 2 to CPAC until late November, weeks if not months (2) after they've had them. These results will hopefully give us a better picture in regards to Dioxins in the south-west corner of Chemtura. This delay will "justify" no removal/remediation this year and buy the company another year's delay.

David Marks (hydrogeologist) while unable to attend last night's public meeting has been working with the CPAC members and sharing his expertise and insights with them. Ron Campbell referred to him on a couple of occasions including David Marks opinion that the magic cleanup date of 2028 will NOT occur. Ron Campbell as an expert in the environmental field was fabulous last evening. His comments that DNAPL was both difficult to remove partly because it is so stable underground as well as the fact that current remediation (hydraulic containment) won't remedy it was music to my ears. His comments about "other sources" in Elmira including Varnicolor's Lot 91 being an "environmental crime" also resonated with me. His further comment regarding "other sources" was that "there are a bunch of them".

Vivienne, Dan and Sebastian all asked penetrating questions of Chemtura and the Ministry (M.O.E.). They very much put them on the spot regarding the failure of LNAPL (Light Non Aqueous Phase Liquid) cleanup via pumping wells. All three asked questions around governance as in were Chemtura/M.O.E. obliged to follow CPAC's lead on priority cleanup issues or not. M.O.E. personnel Garth Napier and Steve Martindale's vigorous defence of Chemtura's efforts to date was very revealing to me and hopefully others. It seems clear to me that they are not opponents but in fact allies. Further to LNAPL, the CPAC members questions provoked Jeff Merriman's (Chemtura) response that "That technology (pumping) was not effective for LNAPL's".

Richard Clausi of the Elmira Environmental Hazards Team was again present and raising issues. He very much buttonholed the M.O.E. and put them on the spot with his comments that there was only one legitimate forum and group for public discussion and consultation and that this was it. Here at public CPAC meetings all parties and citizens and the media were welcome to attend, listen , question and comment. Richard had taken offense to veiled suggestions from the Ministry that there might be other parties they were privately listening to. Richard is very much about openness and transparency.

Yours truly raised DNAPL issues again and suggested that past private "technical" DNAPL meetings among others were private for the improper purpose of shielding those discussions from the light of public comment and questioning.

CPAC and Woolwich Township have expressed serious interest in a proposal put forward by Dr. Gail Krantzberg of McMaster University. Her consulting company has proposals for study of CPAC issues including Governance, Priority Issues and even how to put pressure on Chemtura to follow through on CPAC priorities. All in all this CPAC meeting was a breath of fresh air and head and shoulders above CPAC meetings over the past decade.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Yes it is the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC). We the public have independent experts, bought and paid for experts, amateurs informed and otherwise. My prediction is that CPAC will be having a greatly increased public profile and this is the opportunity for citizens to see the good , the bad and the ugly. I won't sugarcoat it. It can sometimes be confrontational. Generally everybody behave themselves but there is a vast difference in attitudes and beliefs as well as in access to technical documents. Our Mayor has levelled the playing field somewhat by mixing technical experts with what I will refer to as dedicated "professional" citizens. By using the term "professional" I am more referring to their understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, rather than necessarily their careers. There has been criticism about the "loss" of citizen experience on this Committee but personally I reject it as being misinformed by some and self serving and partisan by others. The old group have been meeting privately with Chemtura as they did in the past. These entrenched private meetings/discussions/negotiations? are not and have never been in the public interest. Both Chemtura as well as government agencies far prefer private meetings under their control, rather than unscripted and potentially embarassing public meetings where facts and truth are exposed to all citizens. Kudos to the Elmira Independent for years of service in reporting these meetings and darn it Woolwich Observer, please do your share as well. That also goes for the K-W Record.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Last Thursday I wrote that I would more fully be commenting on this regular monthly report that comes out just past half way through the month with the previous month's data etc.. Hence the August report was received around the eighteenth of September. The on-site pumping is going steady but again they are having difficulties maintaining their off-site pumping at the mandated target rates. These rates are computer modelled numbers to allegedly clean up the Elmira Aquifer outside the Uniroyal/Chemtura site.

The OSCTS (on-site containment & treatment system) had detectable concentrations of both formaldehyde and nitrosomorpholine (NMOR)in it's effluent. Although the Effluent Limits were not exceeded, the Effluent Objectives were. Regarding surface water samples in the Canagagigue Creek, there were detections of a number of metals, DDT and not too surprisingly Formaldehyde. Table C.1 in Appendix C shows Formaldehyde, Cyanide, DDt and again heavy metals as being detected in the Canagagigue Creek. Table C.2 which compares upstream to downstream concentrations also shows NDMA, Ethylbenzene and Toluene increases as one moves downstream on the Chemtura site.

In the text at the front of the report is a writeup concerning both the excavation of drums in the M2 area as well as discussion of testing in the GP1 & 2 area in the south-east corner. This soil and groundwater testing is primarily for Dioxins. There are a number of anomolies and concerns with both these ongoing projects.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Spice stands for Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering . The Woolwich Observer last Saturday published a story titled " Geo-Engineering ready to take off in fight against global warming". I'm the first to admit that bringing this story to this venue as allegedly a Woolwich Township environmental issue, is a wee bit tenuous. However climate change will affect us all and we certainly aren't immune here in Woolwich. The basic theory is to spray sulpher dioxide particles into the air for the purpose of blocking the sun and hence cooling the earth. Apparently scientists in Britain are quite serious about the research they are doing to either prove or disprove the viability of this project. For me it is just one more indication of how desperate our plight is becoming if this methodolgy is seriously being considered. I will at least give these scientists credit for making it clear that their potential plans are not meant to replace plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Their appropriate concerns are that we are moving much to slowly in that direction and their proposals may be needed as a stopgap measure until we can permanently reduce greenhouse gas levels.

Monday, September 26, 2011


It is no surprise that the MAC's excavations on Arthur St. are finished and the hole is being backfilled and compacted. My estimate is that they went down very nearly twenty feet deep in order to sample and remove contaminated dirt.

The old Varnicolor site on Union St. is another matter all together. The Ontario M.O.E. have some explaining to do. I first reported here in the Advocate approximately 6 weeks ago (Aug. 12/11) about the large empty excavation on the site. A couple of different explanations were given as to what was going on. In essence, similar to the first story I received, it appears as if this hole was dug and the soil permitted to "air" out as well as be washed by a number of rains. No work was visible or obvious from nearby and this combined with the unanswered followup questions which I printed here on September 17/11, make this whole process suspect. When I say "no work" I'm referring to when the hole was open. As of this past Saturday the excavation has been filled in. No matter what the truth is , even if reasonable, by fibbing or obfuscating, the Ministry of the Environment are continuing their horrible legacy surrounding this site.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The Michaud family of Thamesville have filed suit in Toronto against a wind farm they claim is damaging their health. The Kent Breeze Corp. began operating in May and consists of eight turbines. "When you lie in bed at night, you feel a vibration on your body...You don't realize it but you haven't been sleeping well" Mr. Michaud said. Suncor who are also one of the defendants in this suit had an expert witness recently appear before the Environmental Review Tribunal. Dr. G Leventhall stated that there are always some people who will suffer adverse effects from the sound of wind turbines. To me that is an amazing admission especially coming from a witness for the proponent of a wind farm.

Yesterday's Elmira Independent has a story from Don McCabe, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. The title is "Green thumbs drive green energy". The OFA are doing research into the production of energy from agricultural crops. This conversion from crops to fuel is usually done by direct combustion. The OFA are studying means to remove important nurients such as nitrogen from the combustion process as well as the mechanics and economics of biomass production. The OFA believe that biomass production for energy will eventually be a win-win for both the environment and farmers.

Friday, September 23, 2011


The new Agenda (Draft for Sept. 29/11) and the Minutes from the last public CPAC meeting of July 28/11 were made available yesterday, one week ahead of the next public CPAC meeting. This is a major improvement over the longstanding practice of the old CPAC, which was to distribute this vital information the Friday afternoon prior to the Monday 9 am. meeting. Well done Chair (& Mayor) Cowan.

The Agenda is clearly marked as Draft Agenda. There are a number of items which should be included on this Agenda. Perhaps over the next week they will be added courtesy of the CPAC members. If they aren't then under Item #3 (Approval of Agenda) on the current Draft Agenda, I will ask the Chair if CPAC would consider additions to the Agenda coming from the floor ie. the public.

These important additions include discussion of the monthly Chemtura Progress Reports. This fairly obvious Agenda item, for the August Progress Report, would then also include the excavation of 125 buried drums (pg. 5) from the south-west corner of Chemtura. Two other potential Agenda items would be the excavation and open pit, for most of the summer, at the old Varnicolor Chemical site on Union St. in Elmira. Secondly we received a report dated July 2011 titled "Work Plan Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport Model Update" from Conestoga Rovers (CRA). This report advises us that there is both NDMA and Chlorobenzene at major concentrations in the soil at Yara the former Nutrite plant beside Chemtura. It took a decade (2000) before the public were advised that Nutrite were a contributer to the Municipal (drinking water) Aquifer contamination with Ammonia and now I'm wondering if CRA are easing into telling us that they are also partly responsible for contributing to the NDMA and Chlorobenzene contamination. If so then this is a huge revelation and reinforces my contention of the last couple of years that there has been a coverup of the "Other Sources" here in Elmira.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


One week today at 6 pm. in the Woolwich Council Chambers, CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) will reconvene. It is my fervent hope and prayer that the momentum described here on July 29th, after the last CPAC meeting, will continue. Based upon a very bad Council decision in early May to remove me from CPAC, I had briefly lost faith in the Mayor and the CPAC process. I never lost faith in a few CPAC members I had gotten to know from numerous in person meetings. Hindsight being twenty-twenty I am very pleased to be able to say that my faith has risen dramatically in regards to a couple of CPAC members whom I had thrown stones at, back in early May. I assumed that their close relationship with the Mayor made them complicit in his very bad decision. Since that time they have attended, participated in and contributed positively to getting CPAC back on track. Their expertise and professionalism was never in doubt, merely in my wee mind, their motivation. If they continue to do such good work, there will be no help for it, I will be forced to apologize. Nothing would make me happier than truly believing that my doubts about them last May were groundless and that apologies are necessary.

The August Chemtura Canada Progress Report is out. I will shortly be going into detail on their failing off-site pumping but today I will focus on their "discovery" of 125 buried drums. These were "found" in the south-west corner in the old Municipal landfill, known as M2. Chemtura's consultants like to use terminology such as "remnants, drum carcasses" etc. but the reality is that waste chemicals were dumped, buried and ignored literally for decades. These drums were described in the July 2003 Request for Action co-authored by yours truly. I found reference to them in the 1991 Environmental Audit as well as in literature from the 1980's. They were removed from a depth of only 1 to 2 metres, years after their liquid contents leaked into the ground and groundwater. Shame on both Chemtura and the Ontario M.O.E. for stalling and delaying this simple removal task for so long.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Today's K-W Record carrys the following story: "Pendergast accused of playing politics with review of Aggregates Act". This shocking accusation was made by her political opponent Progressive Conservative Michael Harris. He of course himself would never play politics. Apparently the timing is such that Leanna Pendergast could be accused of doing little or nothing until she realized that there are a large number of angry and upset voters in the West Montrose, Bloomingdale and Conestogo areas. Like any good politician she then jumped on the bandwagon and is trying to make the issue hers. Michael Harris is only upset that as the incumbent Liberal, she beat him to the punch. Perhaps as the NDP's candidate Mark Cairns has done, Mr. Harris should be publicly stating his and his Party's position on the matter if they were to form the next government.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I have now received two separate positive references to this prestigious body, one from my PHD candidate (Biology) daughter and the other indirectly from President Obama's political interference with a long overdue and unreleased Assessment of Trichloroethylene by the U.S. EPA. As per my September 1/11 posting here in the Elmira Advocate I am still reading their report titled "Contaminants in the Subsurface: Source Zone Assessment and Remediation". This lengthy document goes to great lengths to advise of the perils of starting remediation prematurely ie. prior to having a solid geological and hydrogeological understanding of the extent and magnitude of contamination present. This series of chapters also does not mince words as to the difficulties involved with remediating DNAPL sites but seems to emphasize that formerly traditional pump and treat (hydraulic containment) is not remotely up to the task. The authors believe that intensive delineation first followed by a careful program mix of various source remediation technologies is the way to go. Personally I feel that the over reliance on pump and treat and it's alleged low upfront costs have tilted far too many managers of contaminated sites into using this inadequate methodology. Here in Elmira we have wasted twenty years plus and have allowed if not induced further spreading into deeper aquifers by the reliance on pump and treat. Source removal was and is totally appropriate here in Elmira. CPAC recognized this and unanimously approved the July 2003 Request For Action which demanded source removal including DNAPLS. Since that time CPAC lost it's way and dishonestly pretended otherwise with only one CPAC member (Ron Ormson) having the courage of his convictions and publicly stating his opposition to source removal. While I disagreed (publicly) with him at CPAC about this, I did respect his upfront honesty, contrary to his colleagues who would stickhandle around the issue.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Saturday's (Sept. 17/11) Kitchener-Waterloo Record carrys this story: "Grand River's future hinges on sustainable growth, forum told". John Fitzgibbon a professor at the University of Guelph, in regards to local lifestyles stated... "Are we sustainable? Not even close". Experts were warning of dire and expensive environmental collapse unless there is a fundamental shift in expectations. Bob Gibson a professor at the University of Waterloo suggested that people not governments will make change. He referred to subversive change and social uprisings as being our only hope. His comments on government approval being no more than feeble attempts to mitigate environmental damage echoes my feelings exactly. Professor Gibson also suggested that it is possible for grassroots public demands combined with local (municipal) leadership to cause change at the higher levels of government. Clearly he views most politicians as essentially followers of vested interests rather than as leaders of the people.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


As per my Thursday posting, two days ago, indeed Greta of the M.O.E. has responded in writing to my questions and comments about the old Varnicolor site on Union St. in Elmira. I have already replied by e-mail and copied the new CPAC members plus a couple of others. My e-mail response focused on Greta's suggestion that I go through the FOI (freedom of information) process to receive monitoring data. This I did not find particularily helpful and so advised her with specific reasons.

Three other points should be mentioned about her responses.
1) "...risk assessment may be necessary." I find that a wee bit stunning for a site that was supposed to be all cleaned up a decade ago.

2) "The ministry is currently reviewing an updated proposed work plan for this site." I also find that a wee bit stunning for a site that was supposed to be all cleaned up a decade ago.

3) "Not all sites can achieve full remediation but may undergo risk assessments, particularily if contaminants are coming onto a site from an off-site source." Oh my! Is the Ministry of the Environment suggesting that Elmira may have multiple polluters?
I forsee some pretty fancy stickhandling coming up here. Will this possible "risk assessment" be done in the public eye with public input?

Friday, September 16, 2011


This week's Elmira Independent carrys this story: "Source Water Protection Program brings changes". This program is under the auspices of the provincial Clean Water Act and is a direct result of the Walkerton tragedy in 2000. Essentially it mandates Municipalities to examine various threats to wells and other drinking water sources. These treats, based on proximity to the drinking water sources, are then rated and significant threats are mitigated. Eric Hodgins of the Region of Waterloo spoke to Woolwich Council about this program at the Sept. 6/11 Council meeting. Many of the maps and charts are on-line under Lake Erie Source Protection Region and are excellent resource materials. They let the readers know where the drinking water sources are and the geographical areas that are being carefully observed. Like all programs however their enforcement or muscle is dependent on the will and environmental seriousness of the local politicians. Hence as usual interpretations , exceptions and enforcement will be discretionary.

Both the Woolwich Observer and the Elmira Independent this week have more details regarding the fire last Sunday at the proposed Hawk Ridge Homes subdivision on Union St. in Elmira. Three teenagers have been charged with arson. The old house that was set alight has been abandoned for a number of years. At this point in time police are not commenting on the motives (if any) behind the setting of the fire.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Three days ago (Mon. Sept. 12/11) here in the Advocate I wrote that I had received virtually zero response from the M.O.E. concerning my e-mail to them of August 17/11, asking a number of questions about the old Varnicolor Chemical site on Union St. in Elmira. The following day, Tuesday, I phoned the Guelph office and left a message for two different M.O.E. officers. Since then i have received both a phone call and an e-mail from one of these officers. She (Greta) has promised to get back to me by the end of this week with answers to my questions. This is excellent but of concern is her statement that neither she nor the other Guelph officer could find the original August 17/11 e-mail. I can understand her not finding it as it was addressed to the other officer only in Guelph and then to two other M.O.E. officers in Hamilton. While I'm not upset with Greta I am disappointed with the others.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Today's K-W record lists numerous meet the candidates forums in regards to the upcoming Provincial election on October 6/11. Our riding of Kitchener-Conestoga has the following dates and locations:

Today Wed. Sept. 14, 7 pm. at the Breslau Community Centre
Sept. 18, 2 pm. at Doon Pioneer Community Centre
Sept. 26, 7 pm. at Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira
Sept. 30, 6:30 pm. at Chandker Mowat Community Centre

Clearly these are opportunities for citizens to engage their candidates on any issues under provincial jurisdiction which of course also includes environmental matters. As readers of the Elmira Advocate are well aware, we are "blessed" with a litany of those problems and issues.

Today's K-W Record (page A2) has the following story: "Court hears couple's health concerns related to wind farms". The Drennan's have a farm north of Goderich near the proposed Kingsbridge II wind farm. This proposal is part of the overall picture I described here in the Advocate on August 22/11. This can be accessed through the Blog Archive on the right side of this website.

A major part of their court action revolves around a gag order signed by a third party who sold their property to a wind farm operator. At issue is the Drennan's wish to enquire about alleged health issues sufferred by the third party who currently are bound legally by the gag order not to speak. I personally have long held that gag orders in Ontario are ridiculous and reprehensible particularily when there is a public interest dealing with either health or safety issues.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Someone once said that "politics is the art of bending the rules to suit one's own needs". Today's K-W Record appears to have two examples of that as does the current comments on the Cambridge Advocate website dealing with the Children's Aid Society (CAS). The front page of the Record has a story " Activist charged with defaming undercover officers". You've got to be kidding me. These police officers infiltrated a legitimate group namely Anti-War at Laurier (AW@L) in order to allegedly preempt issues at the Toronto G20 summit. They were discovered and "outed" by the students including less than complimentary remarks on a website. The police after being outed then turn around and charge a student with defamatory libel. What an incredible and disgusting abuse of process. Waterloo Regional Police, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

The front page of today's Local Section in the Record has this story: "Cost of cleaning pond to drop". This is in reference to removing contaminated sediments in Victoria Park lake. These suddenly discovered to be only "mildly" contaminated sediments will be deposited in both the Cambridge and Erb St. Landfill at much lower cost than if they were to be classified as hazardous waste as had been originally determined. Now let's see. Who physically takes the samples? Who enforces the rules as to what can go into our local landfills? Have there been behind the scenes discussions between the City of Kitchener and the Region of Waterloo regarding sediment disposal. How many Kitchener Councillors are also Regional Councillors? If everyone currently in positions of authority are willing to turn a blind eye to the rules, what other accountability is there? Ahh human beings we are the masters and destroyers of our own futures.

Monday, September 12, 2011


1) Mac's on Arthur St. are really in high gear. They were working yesterday (Sunday) excavating and taking soil samples. As promised the hole is getting bigger and deeper.

2) NOTHING is happening at the old Varnicolor site on Union St. Also the M.O.E. have neither phoned, e-mailed or responded to my questions in any fashion. The large piles of dirt remains as does the hole in the ground.

3) Today's K-W Record (page B7) has a photograph and a few words about a strange fire at the proposed Hawk Ridge Homes development also on Union St.. The old house in the orchard was on fire yesterday and whether accidental, kids misbehaving or even more nefarious, this site is fast moving up the list as being very peculiar. Ontario Municipal Board appeals notwithstanding, I suspect that eventually Woolwich Township will be on the financial hook for planning errors or omissions in the past.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Years ago I read the term "soft" environmentalism. Slowly over the years I've come to realize that it isn't a good distinction especially if it's used to denigrate any environmental activity. Today's Woolwich Observer has on page 12 Steve Kannon's "From the Editor" column. Steve is constantly surprising me from his economic to his environmental thoughts and positions. Today is no exception with his opinion page regarding paper bags, plastic bags and reuseable bags (cotton). The title of his piece is "Paper or plastic...or reuseable? Debating the merits". My first time going through I didn't even read it. It seemed so mundane and inconsequential. Then I read it. It is an excellent thought provoking article into an area that all of us are involved and can easily make a difference. Although plastic may be the worst environmentally and reuseable (cotton) the best, amazingly there are actually some issues with cotton and some legitimate benefits with plastic.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Yesterday's Elmira Independent carrys the headline "Remote activation of siren receives approval". Apparently last fall's release of BLE-25 from Chemtura took only five minutes to travel across Elmira. As it also takes five minutes for the fire chief to get to the local fire hall to activate the town siren it was felt that a remote activation would speed the process substantially and perhaps save lives. This activation will be done via the Kitchener dispatch.

The REEP or Residential Energy Efficiency project has a program known as "Well Aware". This voluntary program developed for rural well owners is to encourage them to properly maintain their dug and drilled drinking wells in Waterloo Region. The next and closest information workshop will be held at the Elmira Library on September 20/11 from 7 - 8:30 pm. led by Susan Bryant who has been with this program the last three years. Today's Woolwich Observer (Sat. Sept. 10/11) carrys this story on page 10, titled "Well owners encouraged to be, well, aware".

Thursday, September 8, 2011

CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) UPDATE

The next CPAC public meeting is three weeks today (ie. Thurs Sept.29/11). The next meeting, of any kind including further Orientation, at the moment is undetermined. The last public CPAC meeting was on July 25/11. I wrote many positive things about this meeting including praise for Chair (Mayor) Todd Cowan, here in the Advocate on Friday July 29/11. I wrote on July 29 that I felt CPAC had turned a corner and finally after months of sputtering were on track and building momentum. To be clear this sputtering was not due to the appointed membership but is the responsibilty of the Council and Mayor.

Since this building momentum precisely what has happened? In a nutshell, nothing. I personally, since the Municipal election last October have been on a roller coaster ride of emotions ranging from joy, elation and excitement to disappointment and disgust. On Friday August 12/11 here in the Advocate I published my response to the Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.) who have denied my Application For Review of public consultation in Elmira regarding Chemtura. In it I clearly indicated my belief that our new Council is greener environmentally than preceding Councils. I also indicated that despite this , CPAC is completely controlled by the Mayor and Council and CPAC haven't any independence or even control of their own process such as meeting dates, Agendas or minutes. To date despite best efforts by numerous CPAC members to remedy this, they are being stonewalled. They are being ignored. They are being given the mushroom treatment. They are being treated shamefully by the Chair, Mayor Cowan.

I do not understand how the Mayor could appoint such a talented and enthusiastic group of people (including myself last April) and then leave them all in limbo. What possible interpretation for neverending delay can there be? The Mayor recruited them (and I). He came to us and asked us to volunteer our time and talents to a worthy cause. He and Council are now undermining and demoralizing their own appointees. PLEASE EXPLAIN YOURSELF MAYOR COWAN. Faith only goes so far before reality takes over.

Zero seems to be happening at the old Varnicolor Chemical on Union St. The M.O.E. have not responded to my e-mail questions, the piles of gravel are still sitting there on the surface and no one appears to be installing collector pipes or anything else.

In contrast, as of yesterday at noon, the excavated hole at the Mac's store on Arthur St. is about 30'x 20' and about fourteen feet deep. Gasoline odours are extremely minor. While I was there I observed soil samples being taken by technicians. While going slowly nevertheless this site is progressing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I was forwarded an e-mail which was written by Derek Stack and John Jackson of Great Lakes United (GLU). This group is a bi-national one which has long been involved with Great Lakes water quality issues. Their Release describes a proposed Great lakes Protection Act which the ruling Liberals are promising will occur if they are re-elected here in Ontario next month. The Province (Liberals) are allegedly intending to invest $16 million of our money for among other things beach cleanups around the Great lakes. As was pointed out by GLU that ends up per year being less than $ 1 million per lake. The significance of the Liberal promise seems to be that they (Ontario) are the first state or province around the Great lakes to have an official Great Lakes Protection Act. Yeah that's exactly what we need: more legislation that will be circumvented, ignored or unenforced. Canada are already world leaders in (bullshit) legislation on many fronts. What really may be relevant to Woolwich Township as well as Waterloo Region would be if this proposed legislation actually expanded Areas of Concern (AOC) to include the Grand River, which flows into Lake Erie. This might actually bring attention to the myriad industrial polluters in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Elmira including Uniroyal/Chemtura.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The main reason I will possibly attend is that I wish to here what Eric Hodgins of the Region of Waterloo has to say about Source Water protection here in Waterloo Region. He will be a Delegation at tonite's Council meeting and is # 8 on the Agenda. I respect Eric's technical knowledge in regards to Hydrogeology and if I had any complaint it would be that when the pressure is on he tends to toe the "company" line. In other words his loyalty is to his employer not the public who in reality pays him. This of course is the normal human condition as we all have bills to pay.

At this Council meeting reccommendations from the Committee of the Whole will proceed including the permanent establishment of Bus Route # 21 to Elmira as well as the reccommendation not to proceed with the sump pump installation program in Birdland for both cost and liability issues. This program relates to the Inflow & Infiltration (I & I) problems mentioned here in the Advocate three days ago (Sat.).

Monday, September 5, 2011


Well my first unworthy thought is that Boy does the M.O.E. have confidence in their ability to control the outcome of an E.A. . Second thoughts are O.K. this can't be a bad thing. There's always a chance that it will be on the up and up. This proposed limestone quarry near Shelbourne Ontario may very well impact a number of rivers which flow into and through southern Ontario including the Grand river. Saturday's K-W record carrys this story with the title "Province calls for review of proposed huge quarry".

The Highland Companies are behind the bid for this quarry but are facing substantial opposition from farmers, environmentalists and even a few politicians from the Guelph area including Frank Valeriote and Michael Chong.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Back on May 29/10 and Aug. 13/10 here in the Advocate I wrote about huge issues with our Elmira Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). These included ELEVEN sewage bypass incidents between 2002 and 2008. The good news is that this summer the construction of a new Equalization Tank at the local plant will probably solve the problem. What both I and the Woolwich Engineering Department have found surprising is that these bypasses of raw sewage were not related to the volume problems of Infiltration and Inflow (I & I) as had originally been thought.

The on-line Agenda and Minutes of this past week's Committee of the Whole public meeting provide us with two Woolwich Engineering Reports dealing with I & I. The biggest problem is not roof drains (eavetroughs) hooked up to the sanitary sewers, it's foundation drains. To say that hooking up either one to the sanitary sewer system is ridiculous goes beyond understatement. That it was done in the first place whether surrepticiously or otherwise is scandalous. There was a time when residential building could not occur on floodplains, low lying areas or areas with normally high watertables (ie. within a few feet of ground surface). Obviously parts of the Birdland subdivision should never have been built. The "solution" (Roof & foundation drains) have inflicted a multimillion dollar problem upon the rest of the citizens of Woolwich.

I have as of yet not figured out why if these drains were needed they couldn't have been connected to the storm sewer system. This system sends primarily clean rain water into our local creeks such as Landfill, Larch's or the Canagagigue. Every gallon of clean water inappropriately diverted into the sanitary sewer system requires expensive treatment and takes up sewage capacity. The good news is that our Council and Engineering Department are trying to resolve this problem. Is there any way that those who initially profited from developing poor land into residential properties, and then passed on the drainage costs to the public can be made to contribute to the costs of remediating their behaviour and decisions?

Friday, September 2, 2011


Today's K-W Record has an Opinion piece written by Tony Dowling titled "Gravel Watch keeps an eye on the aggregate industry". Not mentioned in this excellent article is that Tony Dowling is one of the founders and leaders of Bridgekeepers who are fighting the proposed gravel pit(s) in West Montrose. His and other locals incredible efforts are why I've long believed that they will win. It's unfortunate that the facts and circumstances surrounding the proposed gravel pits by the West Montrose Covered Bridge aren't adequate in and of themselves to do the job.

Tony's opinion piece gives us a bit of the history around the aggregate industry's stranglehold on the application and approvals process. It also shares some of the industry's failures with compliance, rehabilitation and conservation. Finally this article shows us how the momentum is starting to change. Citizens as well as municipalities are lobbying the province for long overdue reforms. I suggest that our local Council may well be in the vanguard of this needed reform. Kudos to them, Gravel Watch, Bridgekeepers and many more.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


On-line there are some incredibly good reports dealing with hydrogeology and contamination issues. If one googles ...national academy of sciences contaminants in the subsurface ... one comes up with a huge series of reports focusing on source remediation of DNAPLS (dense non aqueous phase liquids) . What I find so interesting are the comments and discriptions of the history of remediation of contaminated sites in the U.S. . These reports refer to " ... hundreds of thousands of commercial, industrial and military sites across the country...". They also go into the history of pump and treat (hydraulic containment) systems versus source removal or source remediation. Partly due to the hydrogeological complexity, the efficacy of many types of remediation are brought into question. This being so still does not exonerate the authorities deceiving or misleading citizens and stakeholders. Unpleasant truths should be stated up front not sugarcoated.

To date I've been advised by two people in regards to gasoline odours from the remediation of the Mac's/Becker's gas station and variety on Arthur St. The first was around noon hour on Tuesday (Aug. 30/11) and the other was early yesterday morning. The first was from across the street and the second was on the same side of the street as the excavation. I would characterize both of these as minor although technically an off site impact of a pollutant is definitely a no-no. I'm not sure if contingency plans including odour suppressing foam are in the works but if not the phone number for the M.O.E.'s Spills Action Centre (SAC) is 1 800 2686060.