Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I've been on-line trying to sort out for myself the geographical and political boundaries around Heidelberg's water system. I am confused. The Region of Waterloo's website under WATER and then under both SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION as well as under QUALITY AND TREATMENT confuses me even more. From past experience I have learned that there are at least two reasons why this can occur. The first is that I'm not as smart as I think I am and the second is that it's intended to be confusing. In other words our authorities have something to hide and this is one way to do it.

Heidelberg as I understand it is geographically within Woolwich Township. St. Clements right next door however is within Wellesley Township. So far so good. Now here is where things get tricky. Woolwich Township used to be in charge of the Heidelberg Water Supply System as well as the Heidelberg Distribution System. This was the case back in 2004 and is so indicated on the Region's website. Back in 2003 Woolwich Township had responsibility for seven Water Systems. The two that have been since dropped are Breslau and Heidelberg. Breslau is now serviced by water from Kitchener. Heidelberg we are assurred in the Regions's Annual Water Report has it's own wells namely HD1 and HD2 and solely supply the Heidelberg Distribution System . Similarily St. Clements have their own two wells namely SC2 and SC3. They also solely supply the St. Clement's Distribution System again according to the Annual Water Reports.

Are you still with me because I'm not sure that I am? There appears to be two different Heidelberg Distribution Systems. There is the Woolwich Heidelberg Distribution System and the Wellesley Distribution System and they are connected! The 2004 Annual Report for Heidelberg System -220007310 and System 260002850 states clearly that "Heidelberg (Wellesley Township) Distribution System receives its water from the Heidelberg (Woolwich Township) Distribution system through a connection.". Each town has it's own allegedly dedicated wells solely for their own residents and yet there is a connection. WHY?

Being an environmental activist almost necessarily turns one into a political activist as well. Paranoia abounds when one is constantly over decades misdirected and bafflegabbed by our authorities at all levels. If both Heidelberg and St. Clements were free of water quality issues one might conclude that nothing is amiss. That however is not the case. Carefully on foot check out the downtown corner of Heidelberg where the old gas station used to be. It's no secret that the site was/is contaminated from leaking gasoline and or diesel fuel. What I found yesterday seems to go beyond either minor or past contamination. There are TWELVE hard plastic manhole covers, bolted down for security, flush at ground level. They are for access to underground tanks or sumps. It appears to me that we have a pool of gasoline/diesel floating on the surface of the water table. These are called LNAPLS and stand for Light Non Aqueous Phase Liquids. We have a similar problem on the Chemtura site and they say they are unable to remove them. Really? The Heidelberg "problem" seems to be under active remediation and yet Elmira's multi national, multi billion dollar Chemtura corporation to date have been unsucessful.

Numerous questions are raised for me. Are St. Clement's residents drinking Heidelberg water or vice versa? Are the Heidelberg wells (HD1 & 2) still supplying drinking water and should they be especially as the Annual Water Reports don't publish the results of gas & diesel compounds such as Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylenes? Are there any Vapour Intrusion issues with these compounds? In Cambridge Trichloroethylene has volatilized from a liquid to a gas and entered the basements of people's homes. In a nutshell are local citizens being properly informed on these issues or are they being kept routinely in the dark? Let us not forget Walkerton, Bamberg, Elmira and Cambridge. The facts were available to the authorities years before the public had an inkling that they were in severe danger.

Monday, July 30, 2012


What really peeves me is that this extraordinary story hasn't even made the Waterloo Region Record yet. Yes the Record have carried some stories about Northstar over the last few years but their recent bankruptcy and effect on ongoing remediation in the Bishop St. community of Cambridge has been ignored. The Cambridge Advocate website has been carrying stories as has the Cambridge Times. It really makes you wonder what the mass media think is important local news. Here in Elmira we are not the end of the earth. We and Cambridge are part of the Region of Waterloo. The relevance of this local Cambridge story here is huge as we too are dealing with a decades long environmental cleanup. If Northstar can hit the financial skids and our Courts not enforce environmental commitments by them, why should it be any different here? Keep in mind Chemtura (Uniroyal) have been in bankruptcy in the U.S. as well as here. This is very close to home.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


This is a very unusual Sunday posting for me. It seems as if currently there is a lot of ongoing issues in Woolwich Township, the Region of Waterloo and indeed the province.
A little over a week ago the Bio Fuel Citizens Committee came to an agreement with the Bio-En proponents. It was both a comprimise and a disappointment. Having said that I certainly have no knowledge as to what they could have done better or differently. Waiting forever for a "Hail Mary" from the Township probably would result in more disappointment. Some will applaud Woolwich Township's best efforts and others will bitterly criticize what they may interpret as empty promises during the last election. I am holding my comments/fire until further information is forthcoming.

The agreement includes the formation of a Citizens Liason Committee (CLC) as well as some funding for it. Reports as to truck traffic in and out as well as contents of the trucks will be made available to the committee on a regular basis. A complaints procedure concerning noise and odours etc. will be set up as well as data on complaints shared with the CLC. All of this while second best to having the facilty at least a couple of miles away from residential subdivisions nevertheless holds promise for the operators to be responsible to the public. I have two decades plus of experience with CLC's and to put it mildly they are a mixed bag. The CLC's must always be 100% accountable to each other. Be very wary of "executive committees" and or special status or delegation of responsibilities to any one individual. What I have seen are one or two individuals through incredible machinations and manipulation suddenly become in charge of every decision and end up circumventing the rest of the committee. This is my concern and warning. Here however is the good news. I have seen three members of the BFCC in action, under pressure doing a fabulous job. I know a couple of others including Derek, Michael and Bob indirectly, and am very impressed. The three I've seen under fire and under pressure regularily at CPAC are Dan, Vivienne and Sebastian. They are absolutely incredible and with this much strength and integrity I believe you folks are off to a great start.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Last Thursday's Elmira Independent carrys the following front page story "This is quite literally a cover up". The sub title is "Partial removal of contaminated soil on Chemtura property provokes CPAC chair". CPAC (Chemtura Public Adv. Comm.) Chairman Dan Holt has been interviewed and quoted extensively for this article written before last Thursday nights public CPAC meeting. Dan made it very clear that "...it is disingenuous on the part of Chemtura to claim that the decision is based on community feedback." Further Dan added "It's just not right to say this is as a result of listening to the community".

Going back to Thursday nights public CPAC meeting there were a number of other issues discussed which I didn't include in yesterday's posting here in the Advocate. Of great interest was a question by CPAC member, Ron Campbell, asking if the Region of Waterloo were factoring in the restoration of the Elmira Aquifers by 2028, to their Lake Erie pipeline plans. The answer to this question was a very quick no, I believe by both Conestoga Rovers and the Ministry of the Environment. Well now! That could certainly be interpreted as one more party lacking faith in Chemtura/CRA/M.O.E.'s 'cleanup".

Amy Shaw of the Guelph office of the M.O.E. appeared at CPAC to give an update regarding the former Varnicolor Chemical; both the 62 Union St. site (now 84 Howard St.) and the Lot 91 site. I did find a couple of very strange procedural issues. Firstly the Varnicolor site is located all of a couple of hundred yards away from Chemtura (Uniroyal) yet Amy Shaw and the Guelph office responsible for this geographical area do not routinely appear at public CPAC meetings. Why on earth not? Secondly Amy at one point when being asked to provide lab results and data to CPAC about the 84 Howard Ave. site suggested that maybe this wasn't part of CPAC's mandate. Really? That's not her call. CPAC and Woolwich Township decide on CPAC's mandate, not the M.O.E. Also CPAC's duties include restoring the Elmira Aquifers to drinking water standards. The last time I looked that included Varnicolor and every other contaminated site within Elmira.

Amy advised us that five tonnes of soil were removed from the old Varnicolor site now known as Elmira Pump this past May or June. Five tonnes is very tiny and certainly not the 200 tonnes we were advised last fall. She also advised that there are three areas requiring further attention namely on the west and north sides and an area in the middle. Keep in mind this is after the top four feet plus of contaminated soil was removed from the site twenty years ago AND after twenty years of pumping and treating the groundwater. Almost makes you think that they went the cheap route twenty years ago, doesn't it? Amy also suggested that there would be further underground piping installed to promote groundwater collection and treatment. There can be no doubt with hindsight that this site was contaminated deeper and more thoroughly than the authorities (especially M.O.E.) wished to admit twenty plus years ago. This speaks to the sweetheart deal between Uniroyal and the M.O.E. as well as to Uniroyal's belated claim that they were the sole contributer to the destruction of the Elmira drinking water aquifers.

The last point also revolves around the political wheeling and dealing that has gone on. This includes the former Woolwich Council who were given the opportunity by me to learn the truth about further sub surface contamination behind Varnicolor, near the Elmira water tower on Howard Ave.. The Region of Waterloo's hydrogeologist was brought up to Elmira for a private meeting with Council and myself to discuss specifically
Dense Non Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPL) found in well OW57-32R by Chemtura's consultants, CRA in 1998. Mr. Hodgins informed myself and Council that despite being given the location and technical references beforehand, he had not looked up CRA's data. This meeting was thus a waste of time and just for show. The then Mayor appeared quite happy with this turn of events. I was disgusted. For the last three years or more I have been bringing up this issue at CPAC and the M.O.E, Chemtura and CRA have all steadfastly refused to comment, confirm or deny this information in CRA's monthly Chemtura Progress Reports. This time CPAC Chair Dan Holt has obtained a public promise by Jeff Merriman of Chemtura that he will respond and give to CPAC, information on this matter at the next CPAC meeting on August 30, 2012.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Some of the statements, allegedly of fact, made at last evenings' CPAC meeting by Chemtura and Ministry of the Environment reps, can best be described as bizarre. Today's posting will only be a small sample of the fourteen pages of handwritten notes I took last evening. Therefore right here I will congratulate the incredible, incisive and aggressive questions and comments by the following Elmira citizens. This would be Dr. Dan Holt, Vivienne Delaney, Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach and Ron Campbell, all CPAC members. Add to this list would be Susan Bryant from the gallery. Her comments about how little Chemtura and the M.O.E. did to help the downstream Mennonite farmers impacted by Chemtura's Dioxins and DDT was enlightening. Also her comments about erosion damage and mobilization of contamination was in stark contrast to the reassuring claims of Chemtura.

Jeff Merriman of Chemtura assurred me last night that recent sampling which found 1,100 parts per billion (ppb) of petroleum hydrocarbons on the west side of Varnicolor Chemical wasn't really petroleum hydrocarbons. He claims that this finding in the Municipal Aquifer was actually Chlorobenzene. This is despite the fact that the same lab report shows a separate reading for Chlorobenzene in this well (CH70D) at 1,900 ppb. Jeff this is BIZARRE BULLSHIT !

The M.O.E. assurred the public that the most recent groundwater testing showing five industrial chemicals above drinking water standards on the old Lot 91 (east end of Oriole parkway) is not cause for concern. That is because of NATURAL ATTENUATION ! They also claimed wrongly that these exceedances were only in the middle of the site not at the western or north edge where landfill Creek flows by. When we looked at the map well OW2 is near the edge and exceeds at least one standard. Keep in mind all of this is more than twenty years AFTER the last dumping on this site. The contaminated groundwater on this site has been discharging into Landfill creek for twenty years plus and that is exactly what the M.O.E.'s map showed last evening. This so called "NATURAL ATTENUATION" is bureaucratic BS for letting these contaminants naturally disperse downstream.

Ron Campbell (CPAC) threw out a lure and reeled in a big fish. Ron tried to be nice about it but Steve Quigley of CRA was adamant that the Bio-monitoring in Canagagigue creek proved that the Dioxins in GP1 & 2 were not leaving that area and entering the creek. When the smoke cleared Steve had to admit that the Bio-Monitoring including leech and clam testing only proved that the excavation of creekbanks and island in the "Gig" had removed Dioxins and DDT in that location. He further admitted as Ron so gently pointed out that GP1 & 2 were downstream of this Bio-monitoring not upstream. Hence reductions in organisms upstream of GP1 & 2 were irrelevant to whether or not Dioxins and DDT are flowing into the creek currently from GP1 & 2.

Jeff Merriman, as pointed out by yours truly, has been quoted twice now as claiming that the excavations and remediation in their south-east corner (GP1 & 2) are the "last" on-site remediation they will do. Well CPAC Chair Dan Holt jumped on this and confronted Jeff. Well well ! Now the story has changed (again). What Jeff really meant was "latest" not "last". Gp1 & 2 are the "latest" remediation not necessarily the "last". Well done Dan although as per the above title I just don't know how much confidence we can have in contradictory and inconsistent information.

Lastly for now, Josef of Chemtura got jumped on repeatedly by myself, CPAC and Susan Bryant. Again Dan Holt led the charge with his examination of Chemtura's Press Release around the fall "cleanup" of Dioxins and DDT. All of us in no uncertain terms made it clear that assertions by Chemtura suggesting that they had consulted with the public and had some form of acceptance for their proposal; was complete and utter bullshit. Their only "support" is from their paid consultants, public relations people and tepid support as stated by Bill Bardswick of the M.O.E.. By the way the public meeting was dominated, numbers wise only, by Chemtura, M.O.E. and their paid hangers on. I pointed out at the start of the meeting in my Delegation to CPAC that it appeared as if the company were in big trouble and needed reinforcements. Two thirds (so far) of CPAC's SWAT Team (ie. Henry Regier & I) were present as well as two other citizens. Simply put Chemtura are bulling ahead with a grossly unacceptable to the informed citizens, Dioxin/DDT cleanup.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Agent Orange is a herbicide and defoliant. It is intended to remove the leaves of vegetation wherever man feels that is necessary. Railroad lines, walking trails, power corridors are all examples. In Vietnam the Americans decided that the jungle trails with their overhanging foliage were providing way too much visual coverage for the Vietnamese transporation routes. Therefore the U.S. military through their government contracted with U.S. and Canadian chemical companies to produce a product that would defoliate and hence expose these transportation corridors to aerial strafing and bombardment. Mankind however in their infinite arrogance thought that they could screw with nature again and walk away unscathed. The reality was Agent orange was so toxic it killed, maimed and destroyed generations of human beings, Vietnamese and American.

Agent Orange consists of a combination of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. This is 2,4 Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5 Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid. On their own these are two powerful herbicides. The unknown kicker was a manmade contaminant primarily within the 2,4,5-T. Dioxins are also known as chlorinated dibenzo dioxins. The most toxic is 2,3,7,8 TCDD otherwise known as 2,3,7,8 Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin. It is carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic. It literally through an exposed individual can cause horrific birth defects two and three generations down the road. American, Vietnamese and indeed Canadians are not immune.

Here in Elmira Uniroyal Chemical (Chemtura) produced Agent Orange for the U.S. military in the 1960's. Uniroyal handled their wastes, overflow and spillage of Agent Orange in the same responsible, intelligent and far reaching fashion as they did all their other chemical wastes. In other words they did not discriminate. They intentionally allowed waste pits on the banks of the Canagagigue Creek to overflow and discharge. They buried sludges, drums, solids and liquids on their site. They fantasized that either God or the soil fairies would magically breakdown and transform their poisons into nutrients and fertilizers. As a result some of the most toxic chemicals known to mankind have been slowly leaking, leaching and outright flowing downstream for decades. This isn't even mentioning the wonderful poison that has gone vertically downwards into our drinking water aquifers.

Now with the assistance and cooperation of one of the most useless, impotent Ministry's of the province of Ontario (M.O.E.) they wish to scrape one foot of soil away and then cap the rest of the Dioxins and DDT which even at the surface are above the Human Health Based Cleanup Criteria. They and their co-conspirators will try and publicly defend this atrocity tonight in the Woolwich Council chambers at 6 pm.. Come out and watch the "suits" perform their death dance.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Yes Woolwich Township are getting their own SWAT Team. So to speak. After a fashion. More or less. O.K. O.K. I didn't coin the phrase but I am having some fun with it. The Chair of this sub-committee of CPAC and CPAC member himself, Ron Campbell came up with the name. It stands for Soil Water Air Technical Team. An ad went out for volunteers in last week's Woolwich Observer and the inaugural meeting for applicants was held last night in Council Chambers. Yours truly jokingly asked Ron Campbell for a Kevlar jacket but was denied. To date there are three experienced and competent Elmira citizens who have come forward expressing an interest. Discussions involved Terms of Reference and the mechanics (when, where, how often) of this SWAT Team's assistance to CPAC. Essentially this group will analyse technical reports and give opinions and summations to the SWAT Chair Ron Campbell. He will then present findings to CPAC at public meetings. The SWAT Team are of course encouraged to attend public CPAC meetings as well and participate there.

This is an attempt to follow a slightly similar pattern set up by the old CPAC. There are both advantages and pitfalls but as long as we learn from history most of the pitfalls can be avoided. There was some reminiscing around how the Ministry of the Environment were brought to heel back in the very early 90's. Unfortunately hindsight has taught us that even when the M.O.E. were on their best behaviour with Elmira citizens; they were still deceiving and omitting vital information around major aspects of the Uniroyal/Chemtura cleanup. Woolwich's young CPAC are an experienced and talented group but they understand the magnitude and complexity of the task before them. That is why they are embracing additional experience and talent to assist them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


The devil is in the details. My first glance showed what Jeff Merriman of Chemtura told us at last month's public CPAC meeting namely that the off-site pumping rates are being restored at long last. Also as usual there are some chemical detections downstream of Chemtura in the Canagagigue that aren't upstream. This would include NDMA, NMOR (nitrosomorpholine) and Toluene. Missing this month is Ethylbenzene.

The following sentence on page 2 caught my eye: "Groundwater from CH70D was sampled in response to a petroleun hydrocarbon (PHC) detection in a groundwater sample collected by another consultant from this location." Firstly CH70D is screened in the Municipal Upper Aquifer (MU) and the well is located about 3 metres due west of the old Varnicolor Chemical site on Union St. Secondly the consultant at a guess would be the ongoing consultant for the new owners of the site, Elmira Pump. Their consultant is a Mr. Keith Metzger. I have only heard positive things about his skills and expertise. I checked Attachment E and the results for this well are 1900 parts per billion (ppb.) Chlorobenzene, 1.1 ppb NDMA and indeed 1100 ppb for C6-C10 petroleum hydrocarbons. Strangely there is a second result for PHC's namely 1100 ppb. C6-C10 petroleum hydrocarbons -less BTEX. Also the Method detection Limits (MDL) are extremely high for another fourty plus volatile organic chemicals. Ususally very high MDL's are due to contaminated groundwater with numerous high concentrations of chemicals in it. While these fourty others are labelled Non Detect (ND) having MDL's for common solvents as high as 1300 and 2500 ppb. can hide a lot of detections.

The 1100 ppb C6-C10 petroleum hydrocarbons-less BTEX is interesting as there was a major plume of free phase LNAPL on the Varnicolor site consisting of BTEX chemicals which are Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylenes. My interpretation is that these PHC's are above and beyond the already known petroleum hydrocarbons (BTEX) and are probably from Varnicolor and are in the drinking water aquifer (MU). The complete lack of any explanation or interpretation by Conestoga Rovers would tend to make me think that the news is not supportive of the position of their paying client, namely Chemtura.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Yes I can be accused of being a booster for public attendance at the monthly Chemtura Public Advisory Committee meetings. They are held on the final Thursday of each month at 6 pm. in the Woolwich Council Chambers in Elmira Ontario. It has long been my opinion that the insistence of 9 am. public meetings for years wasn't just about the personal preference and convenience of those who had so sucessfully gained control of that group. It also was a mechanism to reduce or almost eliminate public attendance and it was sucessful.

The public can expect far more excitement, issues and controversy then has been exhibited even over this past remarkable year. To call CPAC's Resolution groundbreaking is an understatement. Woolwich Council endorsed it unanimously and have sent it on to the Province of Ontario. For two decades the Ontario M.O.E. and their partners in pollution namely Uniroyal/Chemtura have been able to claim that they have cooperated and consulted with the community and the support of the Township has backed that up. The situation has now been totally reversed. The M.O.E. and Chemtura are not remotely operating with the approval, agreement or even mild support of the citizens and their representatives. This is why the long disconnect with the public was vital to the pretend cleanup of Chemtura and the Ministry of the Environment. Thank goodness we had one local paper (Independent) regularily reporting on CPAC public meetings. Now I am hopeful that that may expand.

The Agenda has the Ontario M.O.E. updating the public on the DNAPL discovered fourteen years ago behind Varnicolor Chemical, 100 feet below ground surface. The M.O.E. and Chemtura have refused all comment on this matter since I dug it out of 1998 reports and brought it to the old CPAC three or four years ago. The Ministry will also be explaining the lack of downstream Dioxin and DDT testing over the last fourteen years. Lot 91 at the end of Oriole Parkway will be discussed as will the planned excavations for this season on Varnicolor's old Union St. site.

Chemtura meanwhile will be discussing details of 125 old drums they excavated from their south-west corner last summer. They will also be on the hotseat for their public school science and scratch the surface partial cleanup of the known Dioxins and DDT on their site. I think it's also safe to say that we will finally meet Chemtura's new public relations folks. If they succeed with polishing Chemtura's image perhaps they can move on to Syria and help clean up that regieme's image as well. What a noble goal and attainment of communication skills.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Chemtura have certainly had concerns since the night of the last municipal election when the status quo as represented by either Bill Strauss or Pat Mclean got thrown out on its' ear. Both Pat and Bill had their strnegths and weaknesses but most importantly they were known quantities. Todd Cowan was not. Sure enough six months later the new CPAC was announced and yours truly was the only familiar face in the deck. A familiar face which had long ago made it very clear to Chemtura that it had no respect for game players and bullshit artists.

Nine years ago CPAC unanimously passed the July 2003 Request For Action. It was a complete turnaround from neverending DNAPL "investigations" and hydraulic containment. And then nothing. For four years I cajoled CPAC to push Chemtura hard. A comprehensive long range plan was still going around in circles just like the new DNAPL "investigations". Chemtura and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment totally and completely ignored CPAC's Request For Action. Worse yet so did CPAC.

The old CPAC had come to some sort of an accomodation with Chemtura. Hindsight being 20/20 I now know that Susan Bryant and Pat Mclean knew about the "Sweetherat Deal". Susan had received a copy of the October 7, 1991 Settlement Agreement when it was signed between Uniroyal and the M.O.E.. She had not shared that information at countless UPAC/CPAC public meetings over the years. Neither of course had the company or the M.O.E..

Fast forward to today. This young CPAC are not beholden due to past secret deals or arrangements to anyone. Their purpose is to get Elmira's drinking water restored. Over the last year it has become clearer and clearer that they are neither intimidated nor in awe of the array of high priced "talent" that either the M.O.E. or Chemtura can throw at them. Both Chemtura and the M.O.E. have been found wanting. They have been unprepared to engage in meaningful debate and they have been missing in action repeatedly when asked very straightforward questions. The history and politics have also become much clearer and the young CPAC are aware of the pitfalls that the old one fell into. To date I would describe the support of the new Woolwich Council as primarily positive. Yes they have stumbled particularily early in the game. However they themselves appear to have overcome earlier mistakes and are appropriately supporting the direction of the young CPAC. Our Council unanimously endorsed the young CPAC's Resolution this spring requesting a greater emphasis on source removal and expressing dissatisfaction with the reliance on hydraulic containment to clean up the aquifers.

There will be pushback from Chemtura and it's already started. Woolwich Council must not make any CPAC/Chemtura decisions without hearing both sides. Chemtura have publicly stated that they have no further plans for on-site remediation. The old CPAC backed down. This one will not. Woolwich Council prepare yourselves for the inevitable storm. You picked this CPAC and you gave them their mandate. Now you must continue your support for CPAC and for achieving drinking water in Elmira by 2028.

Friday, July 20, 2012


They sure don't lack for brass. Brains yes but brass and nerve no. Chemtura are now bragging about their "...long series of remediation efforts..." at the same time as they are continuing their long tradition of always on the cheap remediation efforts. They are also according to today's Woolwich Observer trying to regain their Responsible Care designation with the Chemical Industry Assoc'n of Canada (CIAC). They have never deserved this designation in the first place but with the old CPAC's acquiesence they got it.

The timing of Chemtura's Press Release was exquisite. Each year at this time the Editor of the one local newspaper which faithfully attends public CPAC meetings, heads back to Alberta for her summer vacation. I have in the past criticized both the Woolwich Observer and the Waterloo Region Record for leaving Chemtura and CPAC coverage solely on the shoulders of the Elmira Independent. Well Steve Kannon (Observer) and Jeff Outhit (Record), I'm willing to eat those words. You guys and newspapers have admirably stepped up to the plate. Yesterday here in the Advocate I described Jeff Outhit's story and appropriate criticism of the planned "cleanup". Today I will focus on Steve Kannon's story (pg.3). The title is "Chemtura remediation plan inadequate, says CPAC head". The Independent did write a story "Chemtura announces voluntary remediation plans" but as Editor Gail Martin is away I believe this story was written solely from Chemtura's Press Release.

CPAC Chair Dan Holt was "deeply disappointed" by Chemtura's choice of remediation plans. Dr. Dan points out that CPAC have repeatedly advised both the Ministry of the Environment and Chemtura that source removal of contamination is needed on their site. This applies to DNAPLS, LNAPLS and Dioxins and DDT. Regarding Chemtura's plan to cap parts of the contamination Dan says "It is literally a cover-up". CPAC are properly incensed with Jeff Merriman of Chemtura baldly stating at CPAC meetings that Chemtura will remove contamination when and where they find it and then turning around and covering it up. The hypocrisy of this company is world class. Steve Kannon also included in his article the current situation with Woolwich Council having adopted CPAC's groundbreaking Resolution this spring that the current pumping regieme will not restore Elmira's drinking water by 2028.

One last comment regarding a quote from Jeff Merriman ""We'll have regular monitoring of that region of the site," he explained, noting this project is the last in the long series of remediation efforts that have been undertaken since 1987." Really , the last? Why only a couple of years ago when I publicly questioned then CPAC Chair Pat Mclean about the ongoing DNAPL investigations and cover-up she claimed that there was no final decision made. So did Pat lie? Or did she and CPAC make the DNAPL decision privately after that? Or did Chemtura unilaterally make the decision and just now are publicly announcing that decision? This is the kind of public consultation this company and their co-conspirators the M.O.E. practise.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Today's headline in the Local section of the Waterloo Region Record is "Critics assail plant's cleanup plan". The reporter Jeff Outhit has accurately captured this next so called "cleanup" : "Later this year Chemtura plans to dig up part of the tainted mess on its property and cover over the rest, at a cost exceeding $2 million.". Steve Martindale of the Ministry of the Environment as usual spoke to both sides when he said "to reduce the low risk of high contamination moving off the site.". This high contamination is both DDT and Dioxins way above the Human Health Cleanup Criteria. Dr. Dan Holt, Chair of the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) also stated "It's not going to take care of the problem", and "It's just not a good solution. It's not what we had hoped.".

Further nonsense on Chemtura's part includes their claim that "tainted soil does not threaten groundwater...". They also claim that it "is unrelated to the ongoing groundwater cleanup". Now that's chutzpah! The only reason it's unrelated is because the Upper Aquifer flows from the south-east corner of their site where the Dioxins and DDT are located, directly into the Canagagigue Creek. In other words they're saying their contaminated groundwater on the south-east corner is not hydraulically contained which is true. The second contaminated pit which also has Dioxins & DDT exceeding the Human Health Cleanup Criteria isn't even receiving the scratch the surface (1 foot) excavation that pit GP1 is. Yours truly is quoted in this newspaper article as well: "It is a horrible cleanup. It's more a cleanup in name than in fact.".

Jeff Outhit has indicated Chemtura's recent history in Elmira. They released four tonnes of airborne contaminants three weeks before the municipal election in the fall of 2010. Furthermore there was "...a milestone declaration that Woolwich politicians no longer believe Elmira's polluted groundwater will be cleaned up by 2028 as promised.". This declaration was a CPAC Resolution presented to and unanimously endorsed by Woolwich Council this past spring. Finally although not mentioned by Jeff Outhit, Chemtura's and the M.O.E.'s credibility have taken a big hit with the release also this spring of the October 7, 1991 Settlement Agreement also known as the "Sweetheart Deal". Uniroyal/Chemtura were Indemnified from liability by the Ontario M.O.E. . This disgusting development was shared with the six parties to the Environmental Appeal Board Hearings in the early 90's but never made public, including not to the public advisory committee of the time (UPAC) which included yours truly.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


The press releases went out yesterday. Chemtura Canada, formerly Uniroyal Chemical, know exactly where the most toxic chemicals known to mankind are and with the blessing of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, they are going to leave them in the floodplain of the Canagagigue Creek. One week from tomorrow, in Woolwich Council Chambers at 6 pm., they will face the wrath of CPAC. That isn't enough. Citizens if you've ever read about Agent Orange in Vietnam or the devastating health effects sufferred by U.S. servicemen and their families, then please come out Thursday July 26 at 6 pm.

These Dioxins have been found in the creek on site as well as miles downstream in the floodplain. They are consumed and ingested by wildlife and by humans alike. Irresponsible companies like Chemtura are exactly why there is a toxic chemical burden in human beings. I'm not sure which disgusts me more, the behaviour of the source of these Dioxins namely Chemtura or our pretend environmental protectors the M.O.E..

Chemtura's longtime consultants, CRA, have used public school science at best to "investigate" the quantity and location of both Dioxins and DDT. Yes that is the DDT which has long been banned due to it's devastating effects on the eggshells of birds. It also is present in the natural environment, on their site. It too will be covered up, literally. The CRA/Chemtura/M.O.E. "plan" is to remove the top one foot of topsoil from the worst area that their public school "investigation" found. They are then going to leave everything else in place, much of which exceeds "human health based cleanup criteria". They will however "cap" parts of those areas with a geotextile covering. This cleanup is the equivalent of a neurosurgeon giving a haircut and a baseball cap to a brain tumour victim. Serious surgery is required not Chemtura's cosmetics.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Gwynne Dyer has written a World Affairs column in the Woolwich Observer (June 30/12) that I find eye opening. The title is "No teeth-and no solutions-in final text from Rio+20". The original Earth Summit was also in Rio de Janeiro back in 1992. At that time if you remember the world was full of optimism regarding the environment. The 90's were being termed the "turnaround decade". The reality was a little bit different. It became the decade of the consultant. Studies, talk and reports replaced substantive action. Afterall they were all much less expensive while giving the appearance of addressing environmental problems. Money was to be made just so long as environmental degradation could continue unabated and the ecofreaks could be kept at arm's length. Governments continued their march towards being both private security and public relations for industry.

Gwynne Dyer in detailing environmental destruction states "By the time it starts to hurt large numbers of people in powerful countries, 20 or 30 years from now, most of the politicians who conspired to smother any substantial progress at the Rio+20 Earth Summit will be safely beyond the reach of any law. But eventually there will be a law.". Further Mr. Dyer states "Rarely has such a large elephant laboured so long to give birth to such a small mouse. The declared goal of the conference was to reconcile economic development and environmental protection by giving priority to the goal of a "green" (ie. sustainable ) economy, simply vanished in a cloud of vague generalities.". One of the events leading up to the Rio+20 was the World Congress on Justice, Law and Governance for Environmental Sustainability. There a group of lawyers suggested that "ecocide" should be made a crime. Again quoting Mr. Dyer "One day, after many great tragedies (environmental) have occurred, there will be a law against ecocide. But almost all the real culprits will be gone by then.".

Monday, July 16, 2012


The Wellington Advertiser (July 13/12) carrys this story "Aquifer 3D mapping part of regional project". Geologist Abigail Burt of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines presented at Wellington North Council the pland for groundwater mapping in an area from just north of Mount Forest south to Elmira. Although this information will not directly impact on groundwater cleanup plans for Elmira it does have other significance. It will be used to provide information for Source Water Protection Plans as mandated by the Province. Secondly I'm wondering if landfills north of Elmira such as the former Woolwich landfill will be further examined. A study was done many years ago which found contaminant plumes although the claim was that they were not a problem due to natural attenuation. This landfill and others were used by Uniroyal and probably Varnicolor Chemical as well.

The final significance could be the actual end product namely the 3D mapping. This has long been requested for the Elmira Aquifer by the old CPAC. Essentially this request has been ignored or the claim has been made that it's very technical and difficult. It will be interesting to see a 3 D model of the aquifers just north of Elmira and then ask why it can't be done here to assist in our understanding and cleanup.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Steve Kannon of the Woolwich Observer wrote an excellent Editorial three weeks ago (June 22/12) titled "Each of us is complicit every time an oil spill sullies the environment". The reason of course why all of us are complicit is "Our oil-addicted way of life...". What I find most significant about Steve's Editorial are the statistics around oil spills in Canada as well as the ability of the industry to keep bad press as well as knowledge of them to a minimum."In Alberta alone there have been thousands of ruptures since 2005, spilling the equivalent of some 28 million litres of oil. In 2010, for instance, the province's pipelines had some kind of failure every 1.4 days, releasing about 3.4 million lires of oil.". York University history professor Sean Kheral records this on his Blog "The problem of pipeline ruptures is endemic to the industry. Now with over 399,000 kilometres of pipelines under the authority of the province's Energy Resources Conservation Board, industry specialists and regulators not only know that this system has never been free from oil spills, but that a spill-free system is an impossible goal.". Professor Kheraj also states that industry and government intentionally use terminology to minimize the extent of the problem. Again quoting Steve Kannon "Such tactics reek of people with something to hide. Clearly, the oil industry is in a negative light. That goes double for the tar sands. Perhaps they fear an informed public would be even more hostile to oil.". Again for me this indicates that our governments are clearly in bed with industry and are not acting in the best interests of an informed population who could demand greater safeguards and environmental and health protection.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Kudos to all who attended and or spoke up at the Aggregate Resources Act review this past Monday in Kitchener. This includes Doug Joy of the Conestogo-Winterbourne Residents Assocn., Mark Reusser of the Waterloo Federation of Agriculture, Mayor Todd Cowan, CAO Dave Brenneman and Director of Planning Dan Kennaley. Yesterday's Elmira independent gives details in their front page story titled "Gravel pit review comes to region". Further Editor Gail Martin has an excellent Editorial titled "ARA needs an overhaul". Gail's Editorial advises us of the reality of gravel pits here in Woolwich Township. Unfortunately this reality is in stark contrast to the alleged good intentions for rehabillatation and restoration of farmland. Other huge issues include siting next to residential subdivisions and the lack of enforcement around these pits. Time for an overhaul, not just a review, of the ARA is now!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The behaviour by the Ministry of the Environment, Chemtura and former CPAC members has been strange to say the least. There had been hints, whispers and vague references to a Site-Wide Air Certificate of Approval during the last couple of years of the old CPAC. I attended the CPAC meetings even after the old Council had voted 3 to 1 to remove me as a voting member. Councillor Bauman was out of the country at the time. I warned the old CPAC that they were becoming a rubber stamp for the wishes of Chemtura and I also warned them that under their watch to many issues were not being handled in a public and transparent way. This specifically included their handling of this Air C. of A. which on the surface appeared to be nothing but of benefit to Chemtura and the M.O.E.. I could see absolutely no public benefit and at the same time as a member of the public regularily attending meetings was being kept totally in the dark.

Lo and behold Woolwich citizens voted in a new Council with the exception of Councillor Bauman. As per the CPAC Terms of Reference, their term ended with the old Council back in late October 2010. To my shock their Chair Pat Mclean had the brass and nerve to call and hold another public CPAC meeting after the municipal election and before the new CPAC volunteer members had either been appointed or reappointed . I stood up at that meeting and bluntly and publicly told the lot of them that they were a lame duck committee and nothing they did at this meeting was valid or legitimate. This and other statements on my part after I was no longer a voting CPAC member did not endear me to Pat and Susan. One other thing I advised them at that meeting was that there was a new CPAC membership coming and most of them wouldn't be on it. I had hopes for Gerry Heidburt, Ken Driedger and even Sandra Bair. Hindsight being 20-20 Gerry and Ken would have been a positive addition.

At the last CPAC meeting, two weeks ago today I spoke to the urgency expressed by the M.O.E., Chemtura and two old CPAC members namely Pat McLean and Susan Bryant. They all seemed to insist that the young CPAC were obligated to comment on a peer review of this Cert. of Approval, done by a very reputable company namely RWDI out of Guelph. I stated that both the old and the young CPAC had been given the mushroom treatment on this issue including private meetings and certainly the young CPAC were NOT obligated to comment on a matter that they had been kept in the dark about. Well Pat Mclean huffed and puffed and flatly denied any such private meetings/dealings had gone on. A week and a half later and the young CPAC have found out that indeed there was a private meeting last fall on this matter which included APT Environment, Chemtura, RWDI and some old CPAC members. The young CPAC who had been operating and holding public meetings since June 2011 were NOT invited!

Can it get any worse? Well as a matter of fact it can. Documents have been released this week by the CPAC Secretary, Corrine Shuh, which appear to indicate that not only was Pat McLean calling and holding public CPAC meetings when she was no longer Chair and when CPAC's term had ended; but that ex Chair Mclean was promoting the expenditure of public funds for a Peer Review improperly and without any authority whatsoever. Is this why both Pat and her buddy Susan have started attending public CPAC meetings and are so insistent that the young CPAC MUST comment? Is this one more case of making a virtue out of a sin? Is this a case of legitimizing after the fact, the illegitmate behaviour of the former CPAC Chair?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Better late than never although the timing is rather ironic. The last couple of days there have been news stories concerning scientists protesting in Ottawa about the Harper government's defunding of numerous science and technolgy bodies and forums. Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys the wind turbine story: "Ottawa probing possible health issues created by wind turbines". Health Canada stated "Currently there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether or not there is a relationship between exposure to the noise from wind turbines and adverse human health effects...".

To date the Province of Ontario have been claiming that the distances turbines are from homes is a safe one despite many health complaints from across the province. Also these claims have been made despite any real scientific study or conclusions being reached by any unbiased sources. My own daughter who is working on her PHD in Biology told me the same thing months ago. Citizens health complaints may be perfectly valid but as of this point in time, science can not back them up. Hopefully this study will produce good solid scientific evidence that will enable wind turbines to continue but without disrupting and damaging human lives along the way.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


It's all about money, power and influence. Will the provincial Liberal government get more votes short term and long term by reviewing AND IMPROVING the Aggregates Resource Act or will it cost them industry support and money? With this review visiting Kitchener-Waterloo prior to the provincial by-election they are certainly hoping to have it both ways. Ideally for a politician they can waffle and pretend to be committed to fairness and comprimise while not alienating the support of parties with hugely different interests. The gravel industry cares about obtaining the closest, cheapest access to sand and gravel possible. Citizens not surprisingly believe that their home is their castle and their enjoyment of it is not to be reduced by a new neighbour making noise, dust, heavy traffic and visually polluting the view. Oh and add to this citizens don't feel that anyone has a right to come in and reduce the value of their homes in order to enhance their own pocketbooks.

Enter a political system which ostensibly is for the benefit of the largest number of people while having sold out long ago to monied interests. This should be a no brainer. Gravel is everywhere in southern Ontario. It doesn't have to be mined beside estate homes in Conestogo anymore than it needs to be extracted beside the Grand River and the West Montrose Covered Bridge. Suck it up Liberals and tell the aggregate industry to stop being such greedy crybabies. Move away from families homes. Leave men, women and children at peace, at the very least in homes they've owned for years. Lord knows this world grows more complicated all the time and individual rights are going down the tubes. But to attack citizens quality of life, health and environment where they live is just plain disgusting. The Aggregate Resources Act has long been nothing but a cudgel beating other competing rights and laws into submission. Enough already.

Kudos to Woolwich Township CAO David Brenneman. It is encouraging to see our Township Staff and Council publicly putting local residents interests first. Today's Waterloo Region Record article is titled "MPPs get earful in review of gravel pit law".

Monday, July 9, 2012


The 2012 Household Hazardous Waste Day Schedule has come out recently in the Woolwich Observer. The two closest locations for us are the Wellesley Township Yards two days ago (sorry folks) and the St. Jacobs Arena on October 20/12. August 25/12 is in the Ayr News parking lot and November 3/12 is at the Kitchener Auditorium. Regarding Dioxins and DDT in the above headline, our Chemtura neighbours in Elmira have been permitted by the Ministry of the Environment to dump them down the Canagagigue Creek for the last fifty years . Having set this precedent and not wishing to give offense or even consternation, the M.O.E. have decided to permit this practice to continue until this most toxic substance known to mankind no longer resides in Elmira.

The good news according to Chemtura spokespersons is that both DDT's and Dioxins have an affinity to soil and thus do not quickly or readily mobilize and travel through groundwater into the surface waters of the Canagagigue. This however may also be the bad news. It means that that which has indeed been tested for and found in the floodplain of the "Gig" downstream all the way to the Grand River, just below West Montrose, will continue unabated for many more decades. It will be unabated because our M.O.E. haven't the wallet, stomach, brains or balls for a fight. As industry hides behind them for protection, so they hide behind the rest of the Liberal government in Ontario. The best possible outcome of the upcoming provincial by-election in Kitchener is for McGuinty's Liberals NOT to win a majority.

There are a thousand ways for professional liars to circumvent environmental laws however it does take the cooperation of our government and the apathy of our citizens. Autism, asthma , dementia, species decline, hypersensitivity to environmental triggers, global warming; these are all indications that man has run amok and will pay dearly for his sins. Chemtura will very shortly be publicly announcing their "cleanup" plans for their Dioxins and buried DDT. Quoting an expert from twenty years ago they will once again be "...the cheapest and least effective " and our government will stand beside them and hold their hands. CPAC must not stand alone against Chemtura and the M.O.E.. I expect at a minimum Woolwich Township Council to join the fray and ideally hundreds of Elmira citizens as well. Please stay tuned!

Saturday, July 7, 2012


The Aggregate Resources Act review will be at the Holiday Inn on Fairway Rd. Kitchener between 1:30 and 6 pm.this Monday. Keep clearly in mind that this review was promised by the Premier and his government. Also keep clearly in mind these are politicians not normal human beings. Nobody promised fair or honest changes to the Act, now did they? All three of the most contentious local gravel pits will not be toured by the committee raising the criticism of "cherry-picking". The proposed pits for Conestogo, Winterbourne and West Montrose are all being ignored in favour of rehabilitated gravel pits. Keri Martin-Vrbanac and Tony Dowling both are not pleased with this apparent avoiding of these local pits that have raised considerable public opposition. I expect that the Friends of the Winterbourne Valley group are also not pleased with the exclusion of the Jigs Hollow (Kuntz) Pit from the tour. Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record has this story in their Local section.

There was an article in the Waterloo Region Record on June 30/12 titled "Grand, Speed rivers to get some colour". This was followed by a colour photograph in yesterday's Record. Indeed the Grand River has been turned red by dye introduced for the purpose of seeing "...how much waste water two of the area's three water treatment plants can spew safely". I've said it before and I'll say it again. Science and hard data are wonderful but the weak area is then letting ignorant, self serving politicians make the decisions from it. They will subjectively take data that you and I can obviously see demands further resources towards sewage treatment and twist it into saying we can delay sewage plant upgrades another year while we cheerfully spend money on things like the Drayton Theatre. Afterall the Theatre may get us re-elected but sewage treatment upgrades won't.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Yesterday's Elmira Independent is chock full of local environmental (& more) news. The front page story titled "Biogas Appeal" tells us that above and beyond what I advised here a few days ago, that the Citizens Liason Committee will be provided with $50,000 in order to hire technical consultants and experts. The positions on this CLC will also be advertised for in the near future. Bio-En will also be providing funds for the normal operation of this Committee such as photocopying, stationary etc..

Page 5 of the Independent has an "Issues list..." mentioned which is in regards to the upcoming Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference next month. Quoting the Independent (Gail Martin) "The township will be seeking support from the MOE for a proposed trust fund for the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee, and plans on raising the issue with the Minister of the Environment, Jim Bradley, at the conference."

Last but not least on page 10 we have a story titled "Emergency siren planned for Breslau". Apparently the Township approached Safety-Kleen in regards to sponsering a siren, similar to Elmira's, for use in case of emergency in Breslau. I don't know about you but I find that more than a little disconcerting. The population is booming in Breslau with all the new residential construction and suddenly they need a siren just like Elmira? The siren here is not good news. We have it in Elmira because we have a long history of fugitive emissions and fires courtesy of Uniroyal/Chemtura. The biggest most obvious threat in Breslau would be Safety-Kleen. WE all know that oil can burn and they have had fires in the past. What has changed? Simply more people or is something else going on? I repeat, disconcerting.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I mentioned two days ago here in the Advocate that I would be sending a report on to CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee), listing numerous industrial chemicals in Elmira's drinking water aquifers, above and beyond the three that Uniroyal/Chemtura are focused on. Chemtura's favourite three are of course NDMA, Chlorobenzene and Ammonia. The two page report I e-mailed yesterday to all the CPAC members lists fourty-five different chemicals from their Annual Monitoring Report No. 11 dated January 30, 1993. Just one of my concerns is that the full extent of the Elmira groundwater contamination is being minimized or lost by this determined focus on only three chemicals. Allegedly in 2028 Chemtura will have reduced the chemical cocktail to below drinking water standards for at least three major contaminants. I guess my question to all Elmira residents is this: How confident will you be to drink Elmira's water way down the road if you suspect/believe that there are still dozens of toxic contaminants in it, albeit maybe below drinking water standards? You are correct to be concerned. Each and every individual chemical's drinking standard is set and based upon the totally ridiculous and inaccurate assumption that that chemical is alone and by itself in a liter of otherwise pristine water. Horse manure! Benzene at 5 parts per billion is the drinking standard. Nobody however knows what the standard is for Benzene mixed with low levels of five, ten or dozens of other toxic chemicals. That is the reality in Elmira and at many other contaminated sites. Polluters are not so neat and tidy that they have only one spill of one chemical although many have tried to sell that crap right here in Waterloo Region.

One hundred and eleven chemicals were tested for and fourty-five had positive detections, some high and some low. The off-site well with the largest number of chemicals was MOE1A due west of the Chemtura site with 22 different chemicals detected . Numerous other wells had ten or more chemicals in them above and beyond Chemtura's favourite three. The most common detections were benzene, toluene, benzothiazole, phenol, 2-chlorophenol, vinyl chloride, 1,1 dichloroethane, vinyl chloride, dichloromethane, carboxin and ethyl benzene. As can be seen when comparing to Jeff Merriman's (Chemtura) June 22/12, seven page report submitted to CPAC, there are some commonalities and similarities between our two reports. He has listed the testing done for four off-site pumping wells (W3, W4, W5A, W5B). As is to be expected in the case of gentle massage, manipulation and qualifications versus outright blatant bullcrap; there are numerous chemicals in my most common detections which match what he has listed as having been tested for past and present. What is needed now and in the future are regular updates with honest testing for at least the same 111 chemicals .

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


The skeletons are rattling around and threatening to embarass the Region of Waterloo. This particular skeleton has to do with the shutdown of municipal drinking wells in Kitchener both in 1968 due to quality complaints and again in 1991 allegedly due to iron and manganese concentrations. Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story: "Developer spent $9M to clean up location". This refers to the former Pannill Veneer and Breithaupt Leather Co. tannery between Margaret Ave. and St. Leger in Kitchener.

Back on February 28/12 here in the Advocate I posted a story about another Record story describing the cleanup of this site. That story claimed that 70,000 tonnes of "lightly contaminated" soil was being removed. I bluntly expressed my opinion as to the accuracy of the "lightly contaminated" soil. Can anyone say A Civil Trial? How about if I remind you that John Travolta starred in this movie detailing Trichloroethylene contamination in Woburn Massachussets. One of the sources was referred to as the Riley Tannery. Acids and solvents including TCE (trichloroethylene) were commonly used by tanneries of the time.

None of the Waterloo Region Record stories to date have mentioned the nearby Region of Waterloo drinking wells. These are known as the Lancaster St. wells, K41 & K42A. K41 was drilled in 1937 and taken out of service in 1991. Coincidentally or not, this was during the Elmira water crisis, Environmental Appeal Board Hearings. Uniroyal and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment were being publicly raked over the coals on an almost daily basis. Well K42A was drilled in 1967 and was last used only a year later in 1968 "due to reported quality problems". I can't imagine what those problems could possibly have been?

Recently the Region of Waterloo have been restoring these two wells including cleaning the well screens and dissassembling the pumps in order to rehabillatate them. Apparently the Region are planning on very soon returning these two wells to service as drinking wells. I think it is quite clear to Waterloo Region residents that we have been suffering a shortage of water requiring lawn water bans etc. for some time now hence any addition to supply is needed. Is there any relationship between removing 90,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil (2,200 tractor trailers) a few blocks away and the restoration of these two wells to our drinking water supply? Is the Pope Catholic? This environmental cleanup is the largest one in Kitchener's history.

Waterloo Region has a major catastrophe in Cambridge, namely the Bishop St. community. The major culprits are two industrial facilities and TCE. Allegedly the harmful health effects there were a result of vapor intrusion not drinking water. To this day I find that very difficult to believe as there is a nearby municipal drinking well still in service. One of the constants in all of these environmental disasters whether Elmira, Cambridge or Kitchener is the political desire to "manage" the crisis. Essentially this means downplaying legitimate health concerns and minimizing permanent environmental degradation. The truth suffers horribly and this includes covering up for the responsible parties whether pivate industrial or public governmental.

I wonder what the chemical test results were for well K41 in Kitchener between 1937 and 1991. I am confident that both the Region and the M.O.E. will never release them to the public. My suspicion is that the authorities either didn't test for industrial chemicals during most of that period and or they salved their consciences by mixing and diluting the contaminated water with other wells in the system. Further I also suspect that there has never been any indoor air tests done on the hundreds of nearby homes. Afterall is it really negligence by our authorities if they can maintain their plausible deniability by stating they had no knowledge of possible vapour intrusion? I suggest that citizens in Waterloo Region have excellent grounds not to trust what both their local and provincial government agencies tell them regarding the environment.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


It is fair to say that both the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Chemtura have been under sustained attack by CPAC over the last year plus. It is also fair to say that CPAC have worked very hard to focus on the facts and issues versus on the indivdual persons and personalities representing Chemtura and the M.O.E.. It is also my opinion that CPAC are beginning to understand my lack of patience and sometimes respect for individuals involved. They have dealt with intractable stubborness, illogic and puffery for approximately 1/20th of the time I have.

Jeff Merriman, environmental engineer for Chemtura, submitted a short report at the June 28/12 public CPAC meeting. Jeff was much more careful in his choice of words with this written report than he was verbally at the prior CPAC meeting. This written report has a number of significant qualifications to the bold/bald assertion that there are only three chemicals in the off-site aquifers. Chemtura and their consultants have for years been dropping monitoring of everything they possibly can as often as they possibly can, in favour of focusing on NDMA, Chlorobenzene and Ammonia.

Jeff's report with major qualifications such as "close in" off-site wells not counting and only chemical hits above the Ontario Drinking Water Standards (ODWS) counting does artificially reduce the numbers of off-site hits. One major comment that I applaud from Jeff is this: " We acknowledge that it is possible that there are other (non-Chemtura) sources of contaminants in the plume area." This is a major shift and concession to the truth from Chemtura and I believe it is the second such shift over the years from Jeff Merriman. Many years ago the former general manager Dr. David Ash refused to admit that there were any subsurface wastes on their site. He would only concede they had contaminated soil and groundwater. It is my recollection that after Dr. Ash departed Chemtura that Jeff did acknowledge they still had subsurface wastes without specifying whether DNAPLS, LNAPLS or former unexcavated waste pits as per the 1991 Environmental Audit. Jeff's acknowledgement mentions "other sources" plural and "contaminants" plural. This would include Nutrite (Yara) who while to date have only been "credited" with Ammonia have added 2,4-D and 2,4 Dichlorophenol to at least the shallow aquifer. I believe that Jeff is also tacitly finally including Varnicolor Chemical.

Jeff's report dated June 22/12 if read carefully, including qualifications, is much more accurate than his non qualified remarks at the May CPAC meeting. A further qualification Jeff uses is "results...since 1992". Yours truly has not and did not use any qualifications and I repeat that position namely that there are and have been tons/lots of other chemical contaminants in the off Chemtura site aquifers in Elmira. They are much easier to find twenty years ago because they were routinely being tested for. They have not disappeared any more than NDMA, Chlorobenzene and Ammonia have disappeared. They simply are not being currently, routinely tested for and hence will not be found. Similarily "daughter" breakdown products or worse unknown chemicals formed by reaction between chemicals also will not be found if not tested for. I will be submitting to CPAC soon a further report regarding results from a time when Uniroyal were testing for more than 100 different chemicals in Elmira's groundwater versus their current few.

Monday, July 2, 2012


The BioFuel Citizens Committee in Elmira, after major effort, protests, public education and mediation have come to a tentative settlement with Bio-En . The BFCC had filed an appeal with the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) which formerly was known as the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB) and certainly was no stranger to Elmira with Chemtura and Varnicolor Hearings in the past.

The original goal was to relocate the bio-energy plant away from the proposed location on Martin's Lane, in the north end of Elmira. This site did and still does have numerous issues attached to it including odours and noise for the nearby residential subdivision as well as increased diesel truck traffic through the downtown core and past neighbouring homes. Serious efforts towards an alternate location had been ongoing and underway when the Ontario Ministry of the Environment pulled the plug on those initiatives. I know of no reason to doubt the sincerity and intent of Mayor Cowan and Woolwich Township in their discussions, communications and negotiations with various provincial government ministries around the possibilty of relocating. Originally an alternate location in the Breslau area had been proposed and even since the M.O.E.'s Decision to accept Martin's Lane, another location north of Elmira had been in consideration.

Throughout all of this the numerous citizens involved have fought a battle at Council, on-line, in the newspapers and TV, via an appeal to the ERT, and as well outside Council Chambers with a public protest and in Bolender Park with a rally. Their efforts had to have given serious pause to the promoters of this proposed facility who in the beginning may have thought that opposition would be minimal, unorganized and ineffective at publicizing the drawbacks to this proposal. I can certainly say personally that prior to their public education and criticisms I had no idea of both the general problems associated with the Green Energy Act as well as the specific problems around Bio-Energy particularily when not focused strictly on very local raw material input and transport. Their efforts have opened my eyes to the fact that green energy is not a magic wand nor is it always practical, efficient and environmentally worthwhile.

Their Mediation efforts will make the company accountable for the contents of each and every truckload of material going into the plant. Their efforts will result in a Citizens Liason Committee which will be picked in conjunction with the local citizens who have put time, effort and money into protecting their community. Now it is up to the promoters of this project to come through from their end. All of Elmira will be watching and expecting Woolwich Bio-En to live up to their promises.


Asian carp, emerald ashborer, gobies, zebra mussels, rusty crayfish, giant hogweed, purple loostrife and so much more are here in Ontario and Woolwich Township either now or just around the corner. Add to that ever expanding list, Buckthorn. Yesterday afternoon my wife, our dog and myself were on the Lions trail at the south end of Elmira. Lo and behold just prior to reentering the wooden area there is a sawhorse across the trail with some literature attached. Apparently TWEEC (Township of Woolwich Environmental Enhancement Committee) have been busy cutting and spraying Buckthorn which has spread into the wooded area. The literature provided indicates a number of mechanisms to limit the spread of this non native, invasive species which includes cutting and spraying. We took the signs and literature seriously not only for ourselves but in particular for our Black Lab Grizelda who undoubtedly would have been sniffing and rooting around at any new, disturbed areas she could find. Thus we turned around and retraced our steps. As beautiful as Woolwich Township is, we certainly are not immune to either minor or major environmental pests; insect, plant, fish or even human.