Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Tonite in the Woolwich Council Chambers on Church St. at 6 pm. yours truly will be a delegate. I will probably post my written report here in the next day or two. Essentially I will be advising Council and the public about a number of ongoing environmental problems originating with Chemtura Canada Ltd., in Elmira. These problems will include everything from intentional delaying by the company to their attempts to soften opposition from the current CPAC members. Both the Ministry of the Environment especially, and Chemtura have been unhappy with the amount and directness of the criticism that has been given to them.


Last Saturday's (Jan. 28/12) K-W Record has a small story by Jeff Outhit titled "Politicians fudging transit costs". Apparently using creative accounting practices and by shifting money and costs from one budget account to another it is possible to pretend that our tax increases are being held to one percent per year for our expanded public transit. The reality says Jeff Outhit is closer to 1.5 % increase per year due to transit expansion including the LRT. He also states "Shuffling money this way is self serving." Furthermore "They are implementing the transit expansion they approved. It costs what it costs. They should show some spine and own it." Is it any wonder that ordinary everyday citizens have such little confidence in the honesty and integrity of our politicians? Is the willingness to fudge (lie) on even relatively minor things making it easier for them to tell whoppers when there is something big at stake, such as an election for example?

Monday, January 30, 2012


The current model of public consultation in Elmira called CPAC is open to misuse and abuse. There is some disagreement as to the history around the formation of CPAC formerly called UPAC. Yes the Ontario M.O.E. did approach the Township of Woolwich back around 1990-91 looking for some community forum ostensibly to include citizen viewpoints and opinion in regards to the best cleanup of Uniroyal Chemical and the Elmira Aquifer. Hindsight being twenty-twenty the M.O.E.'s purpose was to dilute and deflect the enormous impact that the then citizens' group APTE was having on the water crisis. APTE under the leadership of Susan Rupert was a populist, democratic and honest voice for concerned Elmira citizens who had seen and heard the untruths and gibberish coming from the authorities for years. APTE realized this and there was great internal debate about joining this public consultation process. Susan Rupert was not in favour, understanding that it was an intended sham.

It was Pat McLean who dragged UPAC/CPAC into being a committee of Council in 2000. That being said there is at least one former Woolwich Councillor who felt that UPAC already was such. Nevertheless there was great debate and discussion at CPAC and yours truly was strongly against the whole idea precisely because it would mean CPAC would no longer be independent and could be manipulated by Council if they so wished. Again hindsight being twenty-twenty it is clear that CPAC being a committee of Council is fraught with peril. A benign Council in theory could allow CPAC to be independent. Having for example one Council member having one vote out of six to ten votes of the rest of the citizen members would be an example. The problem is in having the Mayor on CPAC as Chair, usurping literally all decisions on process and procedure. In theory said Mayor could add or drop Agenda items for public CPAC meetings at will. In theory said Mayor could reschedule or cancel CPAC meetings at will. In theory said Mayor could threaten member removal at will and then follow through with Council in camera and said member not even be allowed to speak on his or her own behalf. Important items like the Minutes already are and always have been under the sole control of Woolwich Township. This includes their storage and retrieval and even perusal looking for past important Motions for example.

It would be very easy for our current Council to look at themselves and say "Hey we're honest and forthright. We wouldn't abuse our control of CPAC ". That may be so but Council should look ahead while looking behind at the history of UPAC/CPAC. Your Mayor during the municipal election campaign made it clear that CPAC had taken much too long to do much too little in regards to the restoration of our groundwater. He was correct and that was due to the control of CPAC through the longtime Councillor who was Chair. Woolwich Council needs to assure that CPAC are truly an independent citizens' committee. Currently it's not even close.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


The Thursday January 26, 2012 Elmira Independent carrys the following story: "CFFO applauds green energy taxation decision". Although the tax decision is their main concern what I found interesting is that nearly three years ago the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario asked the Ontario government to put a moratorium on further wind power projects in Ontario. This is the second agricultural group to now ask for a moratorium and I truly wonder how much longer the province can ignore the citizens at ground zero. Of interest is that the article earlier this week in the K-W Record detailing the concerns of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has been followed up with a similar article titled "Wind power versus rural power" also in this weeks Elmira Independent.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I'm going out on a limb here and saying that Bio-En is coming to town and will be located on Martin's Lane in Elmira. Not only do I believe that the final location is decided but I believe it's been that way for a while. The local group BFCC (Bio Fuel Concerned Citizens) and their appropriately named STOP THE STINK campaign have effectively been ignored. Their input, petitions, letters, e-mails, lawn signs and thoughtful and accurate research appear to mean nothing to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

The BFCC have kept the doors open to communication with the M.O.E. From Ed Speers in the beginning to Dan Holt and all the other volunteers and activists involved, they have been open, honest, polite and respectful. Mayor Cowan campaigned on a promise that his connections to the McGuinty Liberal government would assist him in persuading both the Bio-En proponents and the M.O.E. to look at and accept an alternate location, hopefully in Woolwich but not next to a residential subdivision. It appears to be all in vain.

A week ago disturbing information was received by the BFCC. They appropriately e-mailed their M.O.E. contact person with a very simple and direct question. Is the Martin Lane location in Elmira a done deal? Within a couple of hours they had a response. It was bureaucratic doubletalk about technical design work. They immediately, last Friday, e-mailed him back and politely pointed out that he had deflected their question. No new answer for a few days so another e-mail was sent to the same M.O.E. person. This one he responded to stating he hadn't received the second e-mail last Friday. Patiently the same question went back to him . Again a simple yes or no answer was avoided by the M.O.E. person. In the middle of his response dealing with the facility design not yet meeting regulatory requirements, he did however have the following sentence. "PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS THE PROPONENT'S DECISION TO SELECT THE PROJECT LOCATION" (I have printed the quote in capitol letters).

My opinion, and I emphasize it is exactly that, is that the M.O.E. have pulled a bait and switch whereby the citizens concerns around location, for a myriad of legitimate reasons including traffic and odours, have been arbitrarily shifted to design concerns by the M.O.E. which said design change may or may not have some minor mitigating effect on odours only. If I was a betting man I'd say that Elmira citizens have gotten it again in the ear from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


This is just too precious. The Township of Woolwich website has made a little boo boo. Under Council on the top left side, if you click on it, four options come up including Chemtura Public Advisory Committee. Click on that and for the last three to four weeks including this morning they've had a list of Agendas and Minutes supposedly from the six public CPAC meetings since June 2011. Unfortunately they left off a public meeting held in early June and in it's place they included a private CPAC orientation and education meeting that was held on September 19, 2011. This private meeting is where some incredible, supposedly off the record, statements were made.

Page three of the published Minutes state and I quote "David Marks enquired as to whether or not pressure can be put on the MOE for source removal." Keep in mind that David is a certified hydrogeologist. Furthermore David said "The priority is source removal as opposed to pump and treat. David Marks noted that pump and treat has to stay and has its place but it was the technolgy of the day. Ron Campbell remarked that it is obvious that Chemtura will not meet the 2028 deadline as the technology does not exist to reach the target." . The last quote from David Marks was "He noted further that the MOE was reckless allowing Phillip Environmental to buy Varnicolor with no accountability." This last statement was after a discussion of a number of other sources of groundwater contamination within Elmira.

Readers please keep in mind that these were not public discussions but they were however within the appropriate context of a Hydrogeology 101 educational presentation and discussion given to the CPAC members. Also keep in mind that the Township publishing CPAC Agendas and Minutes is totally proper and should have been done for the last twenty years. Finally also keep in mind that I expect this is simply an honest error which I have advised CPAC of. My publishing the honest but astounding comments of environmental professionals regarding the failures of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Chemtura and their consultants with regards to old technology is not for the purpose of embarassing either CPAC or the Township of Woolwich. You the public have the right to know that honest professionals in the field do not agree with the opinions of Chemtura and the M.O.E. regarding the restoration of Elmira's water by 2028.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Last Saturday's K-W Record (Jan. 21/12) printed the following story: "Farmers want wind farm development suspended". The President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Mark Wales, has issued this request to the Province of Ontario. This is no small thing. It certainly gives the appearance that all is not rosy in rural Ontario and in fact that there is huge concern for the O.F.A. to come out so strongly against further windfarms. Large scale industrial wind turbines have been sprouting like mushrooms in Ontario and often the most likely candidates landwise would be on farmer's agricultural land. Clearly the Province has been making financial deals with individual farmers but at the same time they haven't been making deals with the farmers' nearest neighbours. Mr. Wales states "...residents have been pitted against their neighbours over concerns with health impacts and quality of life issues relating to wind turbines.". Furthermore this Record story states "Several lawsuits have been launched against wind farms attributing health issues such as sleep disturbances, headaches and memory problems to wind turbines.". To my mind it appears both unwise and a shade arrogant for our Premier to continue to push ahead with wind turbine projects as he's stated he will, in the face of lawsuits and opposition by a large well respected group, namely the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Last week I did a posting titled "A History of off-Site Pumping". This compared the off-site pumping starting in 1998 up to and including 2011. With the exception of 2009 and 2010 the pumping rates were far below the computer modelled target rates required to allegedly sucessfully restore the Elmira aquifer to drinking water standards. I had not received the December 2011 Progress Report at that time so I averaged the first eleven months to obtain an annual average pumping rate for 2011. With the December 2011 off-site pumping rate in hand I can advise that it is not only well below the required target rate but it is also below the average rate for the rest of 2011. Of the five off-site wells, in December, well E7 at the extreme south end of Elmira met it's target pumping rate. Wells W3, W4, W5A, and W5B were not even close.

Of equal or greater concern is the lack of on-site containment in the UA or Upper Aquifer. Both the UACS (Upper Aquifer Containment System) failed to provide complete hydraulic containment for the extremely contaminated south-west area but also the south-east UA was discharging directly into the Canagagigue Creek. This of course is where the Dioxin contamination is largest namely at GP1 & GP2. This can be found both on page 8 as well as in figures D3 and D4 in the Appendices.

In regards to surface water, again there are four chemicals measured at higher downstream concentrations on the Chemtura site than upstream and they are NDMA, NMOR, Toluene and Ethylbenzene.

With or without the argument that Source Removal is required both on the Chemtura site and off it; what is obvious is that Chemtura and their consultants are failing in every category and measurement of their own goals and targets. These monthly Progress Reports need to be on the AGENDA and discussed PUBLICLY every single month. To date we haven't had a public CPAC meeting since November and the next scheduled one isn't till February 23, 2012. That is unless MAYOR COWAN UNILATERALLY CANCELS IT AGAIN ! SHAME ON THE MAYOR AND HIS CLOSEST ADVISERS. It's not just your lack of knowledge it's your efforts to subvert public consultation and remove the voices of those citizens far more knowledgable on this topic than you will ever be.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Saturday's (Jan. 21/12) Kitchener-Waterloo Record has the following story "Raising a stink over the smell of gargage". This story by Jeff Outhit, on the fourtieth anniversary of the Erb St. landfill, describes exactly what the title indicates. It is all about the odours and the effects on neighbours. It also advises indirectly that the planning process in Waterloo Region is broken. When this landfill was opened in 1972 there were very few neighbours. Now with urban sprawl there are homes, businesses and even a golf course nearby. Clearly both the lessons of the Ottawa St. landfill in Kitchener have been forgotten as well as plain common sense. Landfills smell, they leak methane and they pollute groundwater. None of this is rocket science much less even news. It is the groundwater situation that is the elephant in the room. In Kitchener the Greenbrook wellfield was recently shut down for a year while special treatment was installed for one particular industrial chemical namely 1,4 dioxane. This chemical and other solvents including benzene all migrated from the Ottawa St. landfill to the pumping wells on Greenbrook near Stirling Ave.. Although a significant distance it is by no means a prize winner for plumes of chemicals to travel. Also at the Ottawa St. Landfill (McLennan ski hill), methane found it's way into townhouses built near the base of the landfill. They were abandoned for years while technologys were looked at to remove or divert the methane. Canada Mortgage and Housing were stuck with the mortgage costs for years, which I would expect meant that Joe taxpayer picked up the financial fallout from both private development and political stupidity. Apparently we've learned nothing from both similar follys in the U.S. as well as our own folly here in Waterloo Region.

Although the Erb St. landfill now has a leachate collection system, it operated for at least two decades without. Groundwater contamination has been found off-site which again should be no surprise to anyone. I have by no means absolute faith in their current retrofitted leachate system. Why should I? Engineering controls are certainly helpful but perfection is probably an impossible goal, especially after the fact. The nearest wells would be the Erb St. wellfield (W6A, W6B, W7, W8) followed by the municipal wells in St. Agatha. The City of Waterloo boundary with Wilmot Township is nearby but they are both in Waterloo Region. It is my expectation that Waterloo Region know full well that they've long ago comprimised the majority of their groundwater by industrial pollution and all their talk of protection (and action) after the fact are simply to delay the inevitable: a pipeline to Lake Erie. The current date for construction is 2035. If through protection twenty to fifty years after it was needed they can hold off a massive water pipeline then they will be happy.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


A year ago we had a new Council here in Woolwich and I'd received a ton of attention from one of them and a ton of promises. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. A couple of friends outside of Woolwich Township as well as one nearby close relative warned me not to get my hopes up so high. It turns out they were right.

It is difficult to be certain without the decency and courtesy of a straight answer from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment but I believe they have betrayed Elmira residents again. By betraying I mean lying. By lying I mean leading residents to believe that there is an honest process of consultation with regards to the proposed Bio-En plant for Martin's Lane in Elmira. Here in Elmira we have had "public consultation" as suggested and promoted by the Ministry of the Environment for over two decades. This "consultation" whether called UPAC or CPAC has been an intended sham from the beginning. Uniroyal/Chemtura have been aided and abetted by the M.O.E. ever since their immoral and unethical private sweetheart deal consumated over the summer of 1991, which permanently ended the then temporarily adjourned Environmental Appeal Board hearings. Local citizens are fighting through the system to relocate Bio-En out of Elmira. Despite their best efforts it won't work, not because the system is broken but precisely because the system does work for the benefit of existing government priorities and for the benefit of the friends of that government. ATTENTION ORGANIZED CITIZENS OPPOSED TO BIO-EN OPERATING IN ELMIRA : The standard operating practice is for the authorities to tell you that you've won. They will tell you that your organized, respectful opposition has forced concessions from the proponent and the Ministry of the Environment. These will be lies intended to let you save face while they do exactly what they've wanted from the beginning which is to put their facility in your community for their profit and your inconvenience and sufferring.

Friday, January 20, 2012


On January 11/12 the K-W record carried a story titled "Region poised to approve flood of water rules". On the exact same subject is an Opinion piece in today's (dated tomorrow) Woolwich Observer titled " New "downloading" - paying for useless rules". The differences in these storys are quite remarkable. Essentially the Region while suggesting that they were on top of things anyways believe that the overall idea of more water rules and regulations is O.K. because it will assist in water protection across the Grand River watershed and with provincial backing and authority. Steve Kannon of the Observer and Dave Brenneman of Woolwich township are much less pleased. They feel that many of these changes are knee jerk, superficial rules which penalize the majority of municipalities that were doing a conscientous job in the first place in regards to their water protection and treatment.

Perhaps this is a typical "slam the gate closed after the horse has bolted" scenario. I do know from reading I've done that the Walkerton disaster was a perfect storm. It was a result of provincial failures (M.O.E.) to enforce the rules on the books. It also was a failure in oversight by the Municipal authorities responsible for water safety in Walkerton and finally it was a horrid failure of individuals in Walkerton who were incompetent and grossly negligent. Finally it was also a failure decades earlier when the offending wells were drilled. They were in a ridiculously vulnerable location and warnings given at the time were both ignored and finally forgotten. What was needed was not more rules but more enforcement, competence and common sense. None were available.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Today's K-W Record carrys an article about cancer rates and prevalence. The title is "Cancer prevalence rates up due to aging population". This is one of those times when I'm particularily glad that it's a short newspaper article and that I'm able to get a link to it. The reason is that my connection between Cancer and the Environment in my above title is strictly mine. This article does not mention the word environment nor other than normal aging does it give any causes for higher rates of cancer in the population. This I've always found unfortunate because other than obvious lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, less alcohol, more exercise and losing weight, Canadians are given very little insight into the causes of cancer. My admittedly non medical understanding is that many causes of cancer are one form or another of irritation/inflammation. The obvious example here would be skin cancer from the sun's rays. Similarily lung cancer can be caused by lung irritation from things like nicotine, asbestos and air pollution. Regardless this article which I hope you will read, quite frankly because I had difficulty with it, claims that higher prevalency rates are a mixed blessing. Yes it says more people are getting cancer but importantly more on living with it rather than dying right away. There have been a very few newspaper articles that I've read that bluntly come out and say that the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink is killing us. The reality is that air, food and water are all contaminated by toxic, industrial chemicals. "Experts" however love to reassure us that these toxic chemicals are all below mandated health standards. Individually most may very well be but as I've long said no one has the math or science to be able to determine the health results of multiple chemicals via multiple routes of exposure such as air, water and food. Furthermore even the individual standards are political in nature and the result of biased risk assessments and other mathmatical games.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Today's K-W Record advises us that a new program has been started in cooperation with the Region of Waterloo and numerous large employers in the Region, including the three biggest cities and two Universities. The record story is titled " Program encourages drivers to get to work other ways ". According to this story written by Terry Pender "The main objective is to reduce the number of people driving alone to work". The various alternatives include public transit, car pooling, car sharing, walking and cycling for example. This program has additional incentives above and beyond the up front financial and environmental. Individuals who sign up to a one year commitment will receive a 15% discount off of a monthly bus pass. This reduces the price from $63 a month to $53.55 . It's funny how we delude ourselves in our quest to stay in our cars. At first blush I considered $63 a month expensive for public transit. Then I remembered that I put $26 of gas in my car last week and $30 in yesterday. By the way I'm driving a four cylinder, tiny Hyundai; not remotely a gas guzzler. My gas costs alone are double the price of a bus pass and that doesn't even begin to compare when you consider purchase price, insurance and maintenance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


This is ridiculous. We've now had only six real public CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) meetings in the last sixteen months. If you recall there was a lame duck meeting held by Pat Mclean in November 2010 after the Municipal election the prior month. Exactly how much pressure can be put on either Chemtura (Uniroyal) or the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to clean up the site properly with a total of eighteen hours (6x3 hours) of public exposure over a time period of 16x31x24=11,904 hours? None of this is the fault of the new CPAC. All of it is the fault of our new Mayor. Something has gone incredibly far off the rails here. Personally I've seen all this nonsense before. Everytime the old CPAC Chair was unhappy with how things were going at CPAC she would arbitrarily cancel public meetings. Usually it was only a meeting here and there although back in the fall of 2007 and spring of 2008 she shut it down for six or seven months. Mayor Cowan cancelled a public CPAC meeting last summer, this past December and now the January 2012 meeting. In all fairness there wasn't a lot of opposition to the December shutdown. Then of course was his still unexplained snooze from December 2010 until the first public CPAC meeting in June 2011. When I say unexplained I should clarify by saying satisfactorily, logically or intelligently explained to the citizen volunteers who were ready and willing to go from January/February 2011 onwards.

The Mayor's so far unexplained behaviour regarding CPAC is damaging any possibilty of actually getting Dioxins removed from the site. It is damaging any chance of removing shallow, easily accessible DNAPLS from the south-west corner of the site. It is giving both the M.O.E. and Chemtura a free ride past any public scrutiny and accountability. Their hopeless Pump and treat System both on and off-site is going nowhere fast (see yesterday's Advocate posting). We do not stand a chance of having drinking water in the Elmira aquifer by 2028 and the Township of Woolwich both past and I'm sorry to say present take some responsibilty for that. When I say the Mayor's behaviour I'm referring to his penchant for autocratic control of CPAC even while Chairing meetings this fall which caused the M.O.E. to cry for their Mommys. Both Chemtura and the M.O.E. were appropriately feeling the heat, in these public meetings from the CPAC members, which the Mayor did conduct in a civilized and democratic manner. Unfortunately the appearance being given is that he is listening to their whining about being picked on by the citizen volunteers appointed by Woolwich Council. His listening essentially means that he is prepared to unilaterally stall and delay allowing this asinine twenty-three year Farce to go on forever.

Woolwich Council you have delegated the CPAC Chair's position to Mayor Cowan. Yes none of you wanted it including the Councillor originally appointed to it. You as a group are ultimately responsible. If you don't want a CPAC at all then at least have the honesty and courage to say so. Some of us are tired of decades long games being played. I asked you last May to get off the pot and let CPAC get going. In your ignorance and with bad advice, you shot the messenger. You did at least get CPAC started with a date for the first public CPAC meeting shortly afterwards. What are you going to do this time? CPAC are being hobbled, delayed and hampered by your Mayor. He is turning this into a sham and Chemtura and the M.O.E. are very grateful for his efforts. IS THIS REALLY THE INTENTION OF WOOLWICH COUNCIL?

Monday, January 16, 2012


Last night I e-mailed with two documents attached, a history of the off Chemtura site pumping wells in Elmira. This information I sent to the entire voting CPAC membership as well as to two other friends and colleagues. The attached documents included a graph showing the total average litres per second of groundwater pumped from five off-site wells namely W4, W4, W5A, W5B and E7. Marked on this graph is the target pumping rate determined by Chemtura's consultants via computer modelling, that will allegedly achieve cleanup of Elmira's water to drinking water standards. Last Thursday (Jan. 12/12), here in the Advocate, I posted reasons why this cleanup is impossible. This graph and the included text show how patheticly low the pumping has been for the last nearly fourteen years. As a result even if one were to accept the initial grossly faulty premise that all the source areas are on the Chemtura site, they still have not achieved the volume of pumping that their own consultants have determined is necessary. The original target pumping rate for the five off-site wells was 64.5 litres per second. From 1998 till the end of 2008 they couldn't get within 20 litres per second of this rate. In 2009 the target rate was lowered to 53.5 litres per second and this they achieved for 2009 and 2010. Last year (2011) their off-site pumping plunged again well below even their reduced pumping target rate. This "cleanup" is nothing but smoke and mirrors. SHAME ON EVERYONE WHO IS A PARTY TO THIS PUBLIC DECEPTION.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Gord Miller, Ontario's Environmental Commissioner is not a happy camper. Ontario has lost their elm trees, is losing our ash trees and he feels that maple trees are next on the list. This is due to a combination of climate change and an invasive species coming up from New York state. Furthermore as the Ontario government has announced across the Board cuts he feels that both the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment are in the sights. Last November he already had warned that their budgets had been slashed to the "tipping point". Mr. Miller's overall point was that the Ontario government is clearly unprepared for upcoming environmental threats including threats to biodiversity.


This week in the K-W Record, Luisa d'Amato gave us her opinion on the new GO train service. It was titled "Give GO train a chance- cars get backed up too". She suggests that just because the GO train got delayed due to a downtown Toronto fire is no reason to suggest that it is less reliable or always slower than going by car. This is clear to anyone who's been stuck in 401 traffic . What she also clarifys is the emotional reasons people continue to drive even when the driving experience is both horrible and dangerous. The GO train is less expensive than driving your own car, less stressful and far better for the environment.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Today's Kitchener-Waterloo Record has a good news story from Terry Pender titled
"Province kicks in nearly $3M for water upgrades". Mr. Pender ostensibly backs his story with interviews and quotes from the following persons: MPP John Milloy, Mayor Carl Zehr, Kitchener's Director of Engineering Grant Murphy, Regional Chair Ken Seiling, and Regional Councillor Jane Mitchell. Wow that's impressive. One high level Municipal employee and four long time career politicians covering Municipal, Regional and Provincial levels.

"The City of Kitchener received $1 million to find ways of keeping sediments removed from stormwater ponds out of landfill sites. The research will help cities save millions of dollars by reducing disposal costs to $5 a tonne, down from $70 a tonne." That is an interesting quote. My bullshit metre is ringing very loudly. Perhaps new and different disposal methods are possible which would reduce the number of tonnes but how does that remotely reduce the per tonne cost? Zero explanation given.

"Kitchener and Waterloo received almost $1 million for a public education program to help property owners take practical steps to reduce stormwater runoff". Are they completely nuts? The vast majority of property owners own nothing more than their own homes, if they're lucky. Fifty to a hundred years ago residential subdivisions and homes were always built on high ground with hopefully a low watertable. Not anymore. Floodplains are discouraged and everything else is just fine. Storm sewers, pumping stations and mandatory sump pumps in new homes are now the norm. At my home I do everything possible to get rainwater to run off my small property rather than soaking into the ground around my foundation.

"And the Grand River Conservation Authority gets $903,000 for a new Grand River management plan." The claim is made that we are approaching a water crisis both in supply and quality and hence need to spend more money to study and research technologies to address it. Bullshit ! Sure there is a crisis and it starts at the top namely immigration and population plans. There is only one Grand River in Waterloo Region. All our Sewage Treatment plants dump into it. All our industries directly or indirectly dump into it. Our environment including water will only sustain a certain level of human beings in this Region. The growth economy including population is unsustainable. We have had technologies to improve sewage treatment at our plants for decades but politicians would rather build edifices than improving infrastructure. Drayton Theatre in Cambridge is just the most recent example.

Jane Mitchell states that the total cost for the new Grand River management plan will be in excess of $ 1.8 million. This costly local taxpayer funded plan will tell the politicains what they already know and yet refuse to do. It will join the thousands of reports before it, sitting on shelves. As my colleague Rich Clausi likes to say "When all was said and done, more was said than done."

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Elmira, Woolwich and Ontario citizens have been sold a bill of goods. This bill of goods is that Elmira's groundwater will be restored to drinking standards by 2028. This is virtually impossible whether one does or doesn't follow the basic assumptions put forth by Chemtura's consultants. This basic assumption is that yes there is grossly contaminated soil and residual DNAPL on the Chemtura property but it has been contained on site. Off-site there are areas of heavy groundwater contamination which can and will be remediated by pump and treat technology over a thirty year time span (1998-2028). These off-site assumptions are plain wrong and all the recent and ongoing cleanups throughout Elmira testify to this. Whether Voisin Motors, Strauss Fuels, Beckers, the old Gord's Garage, Varnicolor Chemical (ongoing), Nutrite (Yara) there are numerous sites throughout Elmira which have contributed to our groundwater contamination for decades. Many others are possible but uninvestigated yet.

For the moment let's ignore reality. Let's assume that all the sources are at Chemtura and the rest of Elmira only has dissolved contaminants versus source areas. CRA on behalf of Uniroyal (Chemtura) have a hydraulic containment system within Elmira. It consists of wells W5A, W5B, W4, W3 and E7 down at the south end of Elmira, right beside the new Voisin Motors. With a computer generated model they have determined exactly how many litres per second of groundwater must be pumped off the Chemtura site and throughout Elmira. This magic number of litres per second, over a thirty year time span is supposed to clean up the dissolved contaminants in Elmira's groundwater. The magic number, determined by CRA was 64.5 litres per second for the five wells listed. From the start of the Off - Site Containment and Treatment System in the summer of 1998 the yearly average of total monthly pumping rates has NEVER achieved this. OOPS! In June of 2009 under pressure from myself at CPAC to explain their failure, CRA and Chemtura lowered their computer generated target pumping rate to 53.1 litres per second . For the record as of the start of 2009 they still hadn't been able to meet this significantly reduced target rate EVER.

It is now January 2012 and the last Monthly Chemtura Progress Report distributed is for November 2011. Chemtura achieved their REDUCED off-site pumping rate on an annual basis for 2009 and 2010. The success after eleven years of failure in a row seems to have gone to their heads. 2011 off-site pumping has been pitiful. They have been unable to achieve again even their reduced pumping target rates. The bottom line is this. They are going through a Review and Update of their hydraulic containment system. This may be part of their so called Five Year Review. Regardless of what they call it, it is a sham. The goal of this Review/Update/Work Plan is to "...evaluate the progress of groundwater remediation of the off-site Municipal Aquifer (MA) beneath Elmira, Ontario." The "progress" has been abysmal. They have set the targets necessary to achieve cleanup and they have continually failed to come even close over the past fourteen years. How many different ways is it necessary to measure failure? I believe that this whole "cleanup" is nothing but smoke and mirrors and a delaying tactic until Chemtura decide to leave town and leave us their mess.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Democracy is filled with contradictions and disincentives to honesty and integrity. Individual citizens have the numbers and hence the votes. The money and power however are held by the few. Personal benefits and considerations are also part of the equation. How many politicians after losing an election receive a golden parachute from the monied few? How many get appointed by the government of the day to a well paid commission, board or other perk? The Senate comes to mind.

Local/Municipal politicians are especially vulnerable to manipulation by higher tiers of government. Imagine that you are a local, activist Mayor, elected by the citizens as a protest against the old way of doing business. You want to put people first, not money and corporations. You begin reforms locally by fighting never ending expansion of gravel pits. You attempt not to block but to relocate a proposed bio-fuel plant that would generate increased truck traffic in your small town as well as most probably generate odours. Your small town already has a huge history of pollution from local industry and neglect and incompetence from the provincial Ministry of the Environment.

You enter office with hope and optimism. Then reality sets in. You as Mayor are automatically sitting on the next higher tier, namely Regional Council. Both the carrot and the stick are evident. Regional roads need upgrades in your community. The local Sewage Treatment Plant needs expansion if you want to have capacity for new developments and subdivisions. These are Regional decisions. Do you want the support of your colleagues for your local projects? If so then there is some give and take. Your current Regional Chair was voted in by his colleagues on Regional Council decades ago precisely because he did not represent one of the major urban centres in your Region. If you play your cards right you could replace him down the road as retirement can't be too far off. If you play your cards right.

Then there is the province to deal with. You are generally on good terms with them. They however have an election upcoming. They absolutely don't need you raising a ruckus about their long comprimised, underfunded and generally hopeless Ministry of the Environment. You are asked to make concessions in regards to your vigour in pushing them, especially publicly. You are asked for the sake of harmony and future benefits to your community, in other areas, to soften and to quiet any criticism coming from, for example, citizen committees of Council. You are advised that it is always in the best long term interests of a Municipality to listen carefully to the very few strong "requests" from the province.

Perhaps during all this pressure, local industry also comes knocking on your door. Lobbying let's call it. They too are displeased with your apparent grassroots bias. They feel that rather than you trying to please those who elected you in the recent past, perhaps you should be looking to the future. For example donations to Mayoral campaigns are always a good thing aren't they? Perhaps if a large employer feels too pressured locally to conform to provincial environmental laws that the M.O.E. are willing to let slide, then this large employer might move up his plans to retreat to a more business friendly environment. How would that look on a new Council and its' Mayor?

The pressures are enormous and the reality is that you can not please everyone. This is where a politician learns to stickhandle. No one is asking you to publicly deny your past supporters or your beliefs. Just modify them a touch. Comprimise and delay are always a smart move when you are doing something controversial. Things aren't really black and white. So learn how to take baby steps without offending others. Life will be so much easier if you adjust your direction according to the pressure upon you. Congratulations you are learning the art of politics.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Now this is a strange one and I quote from today's K-W Record:
"Notice of Public Input Meeting of the Planning and Works Committee Proposed Modifications to the Implementation Guideline for Road Allowance Dedications On and Adjacent to Known and Potentially Contaminated Sites".

Date: Tuesday January 31, 2012
Time: 9:00 am.
Location: Regional Council chambers, 2nd Floor 150 Frederick St. Kitchener

There is a report on-line that with a little digging is accessible . Basically there are concerns that the Provincial infilling policies dealing with development are causing the Region to have to assume environmental liability for road allowances dedicated to them, beside contaminated sites, within municipal borders. This report requests changes that could include things like indemnities for the Region or for more rerports hopefully indicating the contamination is within acceptable levels. An optimist would hope that this infilling mandated by the province would result in more cleanups of contaminated sites within our cities. The reality is simply more stickhandling via rule changes to allow new development including residential upon contaminated lands. I have downloaded this report and will continue to study it.


I received yesterday in the mail a letter from the Region of Waterloo advising that there will be three Public Consultation Centres this month in regards to their proposed Light Rail transit system. These PCC's are supposed to discuss potential impacts the rail project could have on the environment. They are scheduled for Tuesday January 24/12, 3- 8 pm. at the First United Church , 16 William St W. in Waterloo. The next is for Jan. 25/12, 3-8 pm. at the Region of Waterloo, 150 Frederick St, Kitchener and the last for Jan. 26/12, 3-8 pm. at the United kingdom Club, 35 International Village Dr., Kitchener. A pessimist could be forgiven for suggesting that these PCC's have the potential to be no more than dog and pony shows.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Jeff Outhit of the K-W Record is certainly taking the lead on this local, hot potato political item . Last Saturday's front page Local Section story is "Region warned over transit secrecy". Jeff also has a smaller article titled "Rail transit piles risk on risk, scholar says". This second article is very unsettling because it shows the unfortunate human tendency for those in charge to gild the lily when it comes to building support for their pet or legacy projects. Make no mistake, I am a supporter of public transit versus private automobile use. IN THEORY it is fabulous ! I spent five of my adult years in Toronto and the public transit system of buses and subways were unbelievably great. In Waterloo Region I worry that we are comparing apples to oranges. Toronto has an excellent east to west subway (Bloor Line) and an equally excellent north to south subway (Yonge Line). The bus system also runs east to west and north to south. It is easy to learn and understand, it is frequent and it works. Just about everything that Waterloo Region does not have.

Again I repeat I like public transit because environmentally it is superior to individuals driving more cars and spewing out more air pollution. What I don't like is being bulls...... and bafflegabbed. Jeff Outhit's article makes it clear that that is the norm when selling expensive public transit to citizens. Ridership rates are grossly inflated and costs grossly underestimated. The article concerning transit secrecy is in regards to the concept of public-private partnerships. This proposal is supposed to reduce the risk of cost and time overuns by having a private business partner involved. Jeff has interviewed two experts who both focus on the need for key information on these partnerships being made public. This information would include the tradeoffs of profits going to a private enterprise in exchange for the aforementioned risk reduction in cost overuns if they are being assumed by the private developer. In a nutshell I would suggest that these two experts are essentially asking the Region to be more transparent than they currently have been. I agree. Afterall it's our money.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Both our local newspapers, the Elmira Independent and the Woolwich Observer (Pg. 9) summarized their top stories for 2011. As is to be expected there were a number of overlaps. Both papers had ample stories covering a plethora of gravel pits throughout the Townships including peer reviews, O.M.B. upcoming hearings and Cultural Heritage Landscape designations (West Montrose). Victoria Glen in Elmira, Hawk Ridge Homes also in Elmira and the proposed LRT system for K-W and Cambridge were also mentioned in the Observer. The Independent covered in reasonable detail the delays and eventual naming of the new Chemtura Public Advisory Committee. They also mentioned the resignations eventually of all the former members including one who couldn't seem to be bothered attending while he was a member but nevertheless made a big deal out of his resignation. The Independent also covered the public CPAC meetings as well as the news that the Ministry of the Environment were again, twenty years later, going after the old Varnicolor site for more cleanup. Finally our favourite local polluter, Chemtura, were mentioned in regards to Dioxins and DNAPLS still on site and in the ground.

Friday, January 6, 2012


This is very disappointing to see a local well known manufacturer and designer of renewable enrgy in financial trouble. Arise Technologies Corp. filed a notice of intention with the federal bankruptcy office last month in order to stave off creditors while they reorganize their finances. Today's K-W record has the full story in the Business Section titled "Arise hopes to save solar systems division". Arise has installed solar systems at the Region of Waterloo operations centre, the City of Kitchener operations centre and also the University of Waterloo. Clearly their technology is state of the art, accepted and doing it's job. Apparently other aspects of the business, including development costs, have been causing them their financial problems.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Today's Kitchener-Waterloo Record has the following story "Anti-idling bylaw cruises into Year 2". This article focuses on the City of Cambridge by-law while also giving us a rundown on other area municipalities. The by-laws focus on schools and public areas at the moment but will most likely expand to other city facilities such as arenas. Personally I'm constantly amazed at the number of people who let their engines idle, whether summer or winter. It's hard on the engine, wastes gas, invites theft if you've just ducked into the corner store and essentially marks you as a Neanderthal who doesn't understand that air pollution literally kills. This newspaper article advises that education is a key element and that info slips were handed out first rather than tickets. Apparently the old adage that you can catch more flys with honey than vinegar is accurate. Similar to smoking in public places, people are starting to catch on and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Will the 20th and 21st centuries go down in human history as the "show" and "pretend" centuries? Will they be recognized as the triumph of appearance over substance? This following story, at this point in time, deals with allegations, uncomfortably familiar allegations. Rules are in place, rules are ignored, perpetrators appear to be unaffected and whistleblowers (messengers) are shot.

Today's K-W Record has this story " Keystone "whistleblower" alleges shoddy materials". The whistleblower is both an engineer and an inspector for a company that worked on the original Keystone pipeline from the Alberta tarsands down to the American Midwest. This is the same pipeline that is being proposed to be extended down to the U.S. Gulf States through and above some very environmentally sensitive aquifers. According to a Mr. Klink he raised substantive issues during his inspections including substandard steel, construction methods such as improper foundations for pumping stations and fudged safety tests including leaking joints during pressure testing. For his efforts he was fired. On the surface it would appear that the process of inspections during construction is more about appearances than reality. Yes the construction company can honestly say that they've followed mandated procedures. Yes they've hired inspectors and read their reports. It's a shame that all the inspectors can't take their pay, go home and drink or drug away their guilt. Imagine some inspectors (employees, citizens etc. ) actually having integrity and a conscience. For some employers, politicians and big shots it's all about the money. Down the road environmental disasters can be 'remediated" and most probably for a profit.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Ever noticed how local issues of great importance seem to disappear for months at a time? Where do they go? O.K. we know that Hawk Ridge Homes is awaiting an upcoming O.M.B. hearing. Same with the Hunder Pit, Kuntz Pit (Jigs Hollow) and also the proposed Murray Pit beside the proposed Capitol Paving Pit in West Montrose. Further testing and excavation are planned for the old Varnicolor Chemical site on Union St. Chemtura claim they will remediate the Dioxins at GP1 & GP2 on the south-east corner of their property while at the same time refusing to hand over soil and water samples obtained last October. The old Becker's site has been excavated and rebuilt. Their will be further remediation of the gas and diesel compounds via a process known as ISCO or In Situ Chemical Oxidation. This process breaks down (oxidizes) the hydrocarbon contaminants. Absolutely nothing is happening regarding the two source areas off the Chemtura site namely the subsurface DNAPL by the Elmira water tower as well as the NDMA source area which shows up at well CH38 by the Sanyo Canada property. Woolwich Bio-En also appears to have gone into hibernation. Anyone know where this project is currently at? Finally there are still more contaminated sites in Elmira which have not been fully (or at all) addressed. Borg is more than a little suspicious as is an NDMA contaminated area west of Chemtura near the old Shirt factory on Park St. Then there are a myriad of former gas stations which have been somewhat cleaned up but with little or no public input or knowledge. Linkbelt also known as Procast has my interest. Location wise it would be good for development being close to the downtown but is it clean?

Monday, January 2, 2012


Last Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 26 & 27) I wrote about the horrendous state of off-site groundwater pumping as well as the unsurprising discovery of more DNAPL (dense non aqueous phase liquid) on the Chemtura (Uniroyal) site. Off-site of course means off the Chemtura site and basically throughout the town of Elmira.

Today I'm going to try and finish this report. There are five drains named 0200, 0400, 0800, 1100 and SWS for surface water system. The first four are also called part of the MISA (Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement) system. These first four are all subsurface drains with manholes at the surface to collect rainwater which lands on this industrial site. The problem over the decades is that all these drains deposit chemically contaminated water directly into the Canagagigue Creek. Again unsurprisingly, all these chemicals are ubiquitous to Chemtura's soil and groundwater and routinely contain lindane, aniline, carboxin and NDPA. For twenty years Chemtura and their consultants have tried to convince us that these drains are isolated from groundwater infiltration. At the same time they deny that any of their chemicals are sitting loose on the surface. This is simply one more reason why they have no credibility with informed persons. Their excuses have ranged from off site airborne deposition to blaming the nearby railroad tracks for the contamination of their chemical plant.

Table C.2 lists surface water concentrations of various chemicals in Canagagigue Creek. Chemtura have a program which magically replaces common sense to allegedly advise us if there is a statistically significant difference between upstream and downstream chemical concentrations in the creek as it passes through the Chemtura property. Simply looking at the values in this Table advises us that the arithmetic mean of numerous samples is higher downstream for NDMA, NMOR, Ethyl Benzene and Toluene. Amazingly enough all of these chemicals are in Chemtura's soil and groundwater and any belief that this causes their appearance in the creek as it passes through their contaminated property is merely the ravings of uninformed, biased activists "out to get" Chemtura.

Appendix E deals with on-site groundwater readings at Chemtura in either UA1 (Upper Aquifer 1), UA3 or the MU (Municipal Upper aquifer). Literally dozens of toxic chemicals are found in all these aquifers despite on-site pumping started TWENTY YEARS ago. That's right the on-site pumping started in January 1992. Most amazing to me is not the wells located near the pumping wells which have had reductions over two decades but the massive concentrations still appearing throughout the site. Also interesting are the Method Detection Limits (MDL) in use in some of the more contaminated areas. This is typical for grossly contaminated sites. Essentially there are so many different chemicals present that the labs can no longer readily distinguish chemicals with lesser concentrations in the groundwater. For example on pg. 6 (of 30) Table E.1 there are MDL's of 30,000 and even 50,000 parts per billion. This means that "hits" of 10 or 20 thousand parts per billion aren't even found or recognized.

Appendix F deals with groundwater concentrations off site throughout Elmira. Again particular wells located next to off site pumping wells may have their concentrations reduced as long as those wells are pumping. As soon as the wells stop pumping or slow down, the concentrations rise again as the off site wells are all located close to subsurface chemical waste, whether in solid or liquid form. The number and concentration of toxic chemicals under Elmira is still unbelievably high and the current plans to achive drinking water standards by 2028 are nothing but "factually flexible fictions".

Sunday, January 1, 2012