Friday, August 31, 2012



I'm almost speechless. Last night's public Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) hit all kinds of highs and all kinds of lows. Some of the highs include the Ministry of the Environment taking considerable time to verbally answer numerous written questions put to them by CPAC over the last several CPAC meetings. Some of the answers were weak but nevertheless there was efort and thought put into several others. Other highs were CPAC members including Councillor Mark Bauman stating that there were other sources of contamination to the drinking water aquifers in Elmira. Ron Campbell's comments that the GRCA had advised CPAC that Elmira was not being addressed under the provincial Source Water Protection Plans because they were outside the Municipal Wellhead protection Areas was a stunner. Here we are trying to restore our drinking water and the province clearly has written us off contrary to their public position.

Chemtura presented a six page report written by their long time consultants Conestoga Rovers. It was the first response to questions I've been publicly asking for three years about a discovery by CRA FOURTEEN years ago. Sebastian, Chair Dan Holt, Vivienne and Ron all asked questions after Chemtura's presentation. In my opinion they were expressing shock and some disbelief at what they had been told.

I have written here in the Advocate many times about the probable free phase DNAPL found by CRA just west of the old Varnicolor Chemical site in May 1998 and reported in both the May and June 1998 Uniroyal monthly Progress Reports. CRA had muddied the waters at that time by testing deep groundwater upgradient and cross gradient of the location where the DNAPL was brought to the surface from 32 metres underground. CRA also tested soil samples ten metres above the location of the apparent DNAPL and finally they analysed the drilling mud used at well OW57-32R . They admitted that the drilling mud concentrations were not accurate due to the potable water used to make the drilling mud in the first place. They detected in this mud an even dozen different contaminants commonly found in either Chemtura's groundwater and or in Varnicolor's groundwater. This included petroleum hydrocarbons .

Here is the punchline in this joke. They claimed wrongly that TPH (total petroleum hydrocarbons) are not widespread in the groundwater. They based this blatant error upon not detecting purgeable petroleum hydrocarbons in a couple of wells with extremely high MDL's (method detection limits) in the case of OW57-32R and OW69-13. The MDL's were 7,300 and 11,000 ppb. which means any concentration below that won't be detected. Also I see no analyses being done for nearby wells CH70 and CH43. The Varnicolor site is riddled with petroleum hydrocarbons at high concentrations (see my Aug. 6/12 posting). Also petroleum hydrocarbons can include Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylenes which are ubiquitous throughout both sites in huge quantities. CRA further argue that because petroleum hydrocarbons were found in the drilling mud and allegedly not in nearby wells therefore ...WAIT FOR IT... "The possibility that a petroleum product could have been inadvertently introduced into the drilling fluid cannot be ruled out.".

So FOURTEEN years later the answer is OOPSY! We spilled something. Possibly. There still has been ZERO real investigation of what CRA called DNAPL in 1998. In fact while not seriously investigating in 1998 they had a different story namely: "The iridescent sheen observed on the drilling mud is possibly associated with elevated levels of chlorobenzene dissolved in MA groundwater although this has not been conclusively determined.". So without a serious investigation of an issue with huge impact upon the restoration of the Elmira Aquifers; our authorities are going to settle for either it's dissolved chlorobenzene or OOPSY it's spilled oil?

Maybe not. Steve Martindale of the M.O.E. with the Acting Assistant Director (George Karlos) of the West Central Region beside him, has promised to examine this issue. Well that's a relief. I was afraid that there might be a coverup going on here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


The Chemtura Public Advisory Committee meeting is tonite at 6 pm. (Woolwich Council Chambers). The revised Agenda has added both some old and some new. The old includes putting the Dioxin (agent orange) and DDT excavations back on. Currently Chemtura are trying to cheap their way through this by only removing one foot of contaminated soil from only one area of their mess. The new includes adding Source Water Protection policies to the Agenda. This could be interesting as the focus may well be on Elmira and area. This is a provincially mandated program legislated as a result of the Walkerton water tragedy.

The old CPAC assiduously avoided discussion on other contaminated Elmira sites despite their mandate to restore the Elmira drinking water aquifers by 2028. The one exception would be if Chemtura wished to discuss Nutrite (Yara) and their Ammonia contributions to the aquifers. As is logical and reasonable, each and every contaminated site sitting atop the Elmira aquifers must be looked at. Some of them (gas stations ) have been remediated and some have not. Some sites around town such as the old Varnicolor site on Union St. has been partially remediated. It was much easier selling a mickey mouse cleanup twenty-two years ago when local citizens were inexperienced in these matters. The Lot 91 site at the end of Oriole Parkway had drums and small amounts of contaminated soil removed with lots left behind. Clearly the M.O.E. are satisfied with letting the rest slowly dissolve and flow into Landfill Creek and from there into the Canagagigue and five miles later the Grand River.

The premise upon which the Elmira cleanup was and is based is that all the subsurface tars, sludges and solid and liquid wastes are located on the Chemtura site. Thus there is one system of pumping wells for the purpose of on-site hydraulic containment only (currently PW4 & PW5) and another system of off-site wells for removing the dissolved contaminants from the groundwater namely wells W5A, W5B, W4, W3, and E7. Overall the volume of water being pumped off-site is far greater than that being pumped on-site as the on-site isn't for the purpose of cleanup, only for containment. In other words the theory is that we can protect forever the rest of Elmira from the still buried solid and liquid (DNAPL & LNAPL) wastes at Chemtura.

Getting back to the old Varnicolor site on Union St. there are two points of interest. Firstly I yelled long and hard that the deeper groundwater and soil contamination investigations had NOT taken place as promised. Secondly the on-site pump and treat system that is still underway has turned out to be inadequate. What a non surprise. After Rich Clausi, Ted Oldfield and I moved on to Uniroyal Chemical, a new liason committee was formed. It turns out the pump and treat system pumps 15,000 litres of contaminated water per day from the very shallow Surficial Aquifer only. This is the mathematical equivalent of .173 litres per sec. By comparison there are numerous wells in Elmira pumping between eleven and thirty litres per second. The on-site UACS (upper aquifer containment system) at Chemtura pumps between .9 and 1 liter per second and even the YARA (Nutrite) site is pumping .4 litre per second. Therefore even though the top four feet of soil was removed from Varnicolor (Union St.) and a minimal pump and treat systen installed it now seems clear that it was way too little, way too late. The M.O.E. approved a non deeper investigation at that site in 1991 for fear of what they would find. There were both free phase LNAPLS and free phase DNAPLS on site and most interestingly there is free phase DNAPLS west of their site near the Howard St. water tower. The jury may be out as to the source (Borg/Varnicolor?) but at this point it seems unlikely to be from Chemtura. These still remaining source areas need to be properly addressed if the authorities sincerely are trying to restore Elmira's drinking water aquifers. That is looking very doubtful right now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I received yesterday an e-mail Press Release. This Release was in regard to the Jefferson Salamander issue in Kitchener's Hidden Valley. The title of the Press Release is "Hidden Facts Re: Hidden Valley and Jefferson Salamander". The contact person for more information is a Mr. Neil Taylor at .

This page and a quarter factsheet provides disturbing information. There appears to be fairly strong legislation mandating protection for endangered species from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). The problem seems to be one that we come up against all the time here in Elmira. That is simply put the ability to be able to distort or shift scientific data to one's own viewpoint. It also appears as if the MNR are only too willing to protect the powerful and influential which in this instance hardly includes the Jefferson Salamander.

More environmental legislation whether protecting groundwater or endangered species isn't always the answer. Of far greater importance is having government oversight bodies whose duty and loyalty is to their mandate rather than to their political bosses in Cabinet.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


In 2010 the emerald ash borer was found on both sides of the 401 near Homer watson Blvd. in the cities of Kitchener and Cambridge. It has now been positively identified in multiple sites in the City of waterloo. Indeed the infestation discovered by Conestoga mall in the north end of Waterloo is thought to be nearly five years old based upon the numbers and extent.

It would seem pretty obvious to me that if it's been in the north end of waterloo for five years that it's probably already into Elmira and woolwich Township. Older and larger ash trees can be saved with a preemptive injection of a product called TreeAzin. Generally the response is to stop planting ash trees in cities and to remove and burn infested ones. I would strongly suspect that beside this beetle being an invasive species from China which got here in packing crates; that its' spread may well be assisted by our warmer tempuratures and milder winters. The article in today's Waterloo Region Record is titled "Ash borer invades Waterloo trees".

Monday, August 27, 2012


This is neither unexpected nor a problem. This Resolution after being endorsed and adopted by Woolwich Council was sent out to the AMO (Assoc'n of Municipalities of Ontario) as well as to the Region of Waterloo and the Province of Ontario including the Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.). It was politely and diplomatically written but nevertheless can hardly be interpreted as anything but earthshattering. Yes it asks for money including a trust fund (financial assurance) which are the usual requests from a lower tier government to a higher tier one. Most importantly it advises all parties that the status quo in Elmira will not sucessfully restore the drinking water aquifers by 2028 or even close. This is of course in direct conflict and dispute with Chemtura, their consultants (CRA) and the M.O.E..

It would be hard to interpret this CPAC Resolution as anything other than a condemnation of the pump and treat "cleanup" as well as all parties and authorities who have acquiesced to it. These parties directly or indirectly cut deals, including sweetheart deals with one of the major polluters of the Elmira drinking water aquifers. These parties are now under pressure, which will only increase, to come clean and tell the citizens of Elmira and indeed Ontario the entire truth. This will not be easy or particularily palatable but continued disinformation and falsehoods are no longer an option. The young CPAC and the new Woolwich Council are well informed and resolute. The truth at long last is coming out.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The Draft Minutes from the last CPAC meeting have come out and this is why I am pleased that there are at least three separate individuals taking notes during these three hour meetings.

Firstly Josef of Chemtura spoke to CPAC about how his company are working towards responsible care reverification. Reality Check required here. They've been verified before and shouldn't have been. In hindsight we found out that they had inside help. Two of the CPAC members at the time had joined the CCPA (Cnd. Chemical Producers Assoc'n). Pat Mclean wisely kept that a secret or I would have publicly torn her a new one.

Chemtura have hired Sussex to help them with their public relations. This includes a Metroline survey of 500 households in Elmira dealing with local environmental issues. Here's a hint Chemtura. Tell the unvarnished truth at least most of the time. Do exactly what you say you will do. You'll be amazed at how that will help your public relations.

The excavation of 125 drums last summer went to a depth of 3 metres versus their proposed excavation of Dioxins and DDT going to a depth of .3 metre. Is this an admission of the obvious namely that under gravity liquids move downwards through the earth? Why do Chemtura/CRA try to suspend commonsense and reality when they are saving a buck? Man up and tell the truth.

Ms. Shaw of the M.O.E. advised CPAC that Mr. Metzger, the hydrogeologist working for Elmira Pump on the Union St. site of the former Varnicolor Chemical, advised her that he didn't want to share Elmira Pump's remediation plan with CPAC as they felt it wasn't part of CPAC's mandate. Really? Well he and she are both wrong! CPAC's mandate is to get the Elmira drinking water aquifers restored by 2028. The last I looked Union St. and Howard St. are both within Elmira. Old style thinking was that a company could do what they wanted on their own property. Unfortunately when you buy a grossly contaminated site that has contaminated multiple aquifers due to intentional dumping twenty plus years ago, your cleanup of OUR aquifers is public business.

Pg. 10 of the Minutes missed the best part of the Ron Campbell/Steve Quigley (CRA) interchange. Ron threw out the line, Steve grabbed it, ran with it and then Ron set the hook and reeled him in. This is in relation to alleged bio-monitoring on the Chemtura site showing no effect from GP1 & 2 discharge to the creek.

One last little shot here at the M.O.E. Steve Martindale advised CPAC that the 2028 cleanup date is based upon thirty years of Pump & Treat after the Upper Aquifer Containment System (UACS) started up. He's wrong. The UACS started in 1997 not 1998. The thirty year alleged timespan started after the Off-Site wells began pumping in the summer of 1998.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Today's Woolwich Observer on page #22 has a Notice of Public Meeting. This is in reference to next Thursday's Chemtura Public Advisory Committee in Woolwich Council Chambers at 6 pm..

Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record has the following story "Province offers grants to clean up Great Lakes basin". This is in reference to the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund which was actually presented at the last public CPAC meeting by Mr. John Jackson. The biggest change I see is that the M.O.E. have responded to criticism regarding no funding being available. Now there definitely is funding (modest) which is appropriate considering that there will be some financial costs to citizens trying to assist their local environment.

Finally I am advised that Woolwich Council have released earlier this week a "Briefing Memo for The Honourable Jim Bradley, Minister of the Environment". As recently as three days ago, here in the Advocate, I had asked the question as to the status of CPAC's Resolution passed last April and the same Resolution then passed unanimously by Woolwich Council on May 8, 2012. Well as I understand it, Council's and CPAC's Resolution which among other things strongly criticizes the current and ongoing remediation efforts in Elmira, has been forwarded to both the Ontario government, M.O.E. and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Further I believe that this Briefing Memo to Jim Bradley is the formal request for a meeting with him on this matter, probably at the upcoming AMO conference.

While I have no illusions as to the political dynamite this Resolution contains nevertheless full marks must go to Woolwich Council for their support and leadership on the Chemtura file. What they have done is both unprecedented and long overdue by our Municipality. I do not believe any previous Council would have been willing to take such a strong stand, contrary to the entrenched interests including those of the provincial government.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I received this monthly report yesterday and I need to say Hallelujah! This is the first time in as long as I can remember that all the pumping wells on and off-site have met their targeted pumping rates including the ones whose rates have been reduced over the years. Keep this in perspective however. It simply means that Chemtura/CRA's much vaunted hydraulic containment is finally back up to speed for the month of July 2012. This does help in slowing the ongoing leakage of contaminants off-site whether into the Municipal Lower, Municipal Upper, Bedrock Aquifers or into Canagagigue Creek. Way too much of the site is hydraulically uncontained in violation of the November 4, 1991 Control Order. However as we have learned the hard way, Control Orders primary purpose is only to give the appearance of cleanups.

Surface water hits again include the practically ubiquitous NDMA, NMOR and Toluene coming from the Chemtura site and discharging into Canagagigue Creek. There is more but detection capabilities and lack of testing for specific other contaminants severely limits their detection.

Tables A.3 and A.4 in Appendix A are interesting as they give us a better picture of the number of different contaminants in the natural environment ie. shallow groundwater. Table A.3 has 19 different industrial chemicals detected and Table A.4 has 13. This of course also reflects detection capabilities as well as a lck of testing for other known Chemtura chemicals.

Table D.2 in Appendix D has data reflecting on chemical detections in CH44C & D . This well is located on the neighbouring Nutrite/Yara property. There are eleven different chemicals indicated as being present. These include the two highest namely Chlorobenzene and Mercaptobenzothiazole. There are numerous other Non Detects (ND) however they have extremely high method detection limits which can and do hide positive detections. Although to date Chemtura/ M.O.E. are only giving Nutrite/Yara "credit" for putting Ammonia into the Elmira drinking water aquifers it is becoming increasingly obvious that they have numerous other chemicals that they discharged into their lagoon which have joined with other companies in Elmira to make our drinking water toxic.

All in all another feel good report to assist in the charade that Elmira's groundwater is in good hands and being properly remediated.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Yseterday I received an e-mail advertising an upcoming Conference that is sponsered by three groups. They are the office of Global Health at Univ. of Western Ontario, The Centre for Family Medicine and finally Community Energy Renewable Waterloo.

This is a two part Conference with Part One being at The Centre for Family Medicine, 25 Joseph St. Kitchener from 1-5 pm. on Wednesday September 12/12. Part Two is that evening at First United Church, 16 William St. W. in Waterloo from 7-9 pm.. Part One requires registration by Sept. 5/12 via . Part Two however is open without preregistering.

The title of Part One (1-5pm.) is "Building a Clean & Healthy Energy Future" and the title of Part Two is "How Ontario Can Lead Canada to a Low-Carbon Economy". As per the e-mail I received: "All are Welcome - Community members, Physicians, Residents, Professionals and Students!"

While I have no prior knowledge of this Conference, from the groups and individuals involved as well as the importance and relevance of the subject matter, I would highly reccommend it to anyone who is able to attend, learn and participate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


A week from this Thursday (August 30/12) is the monthly Chemtura Public Advisory Committee meeting. As usual it will be held in Woolwich Council Chambers at 6 pm. The Agenda has not been finalized as yet however likely issues for discussion and debate include the unsatisfactory Dioxin & DDT removal proposal of Chemtura, DNAPL found 100 feet below ground behind the old Varnicolor Chemical site and the recent finding of 1,100 ppb. Petroleum Hydrocarbons in the drinking water aquifer. The Ontario M.O.E. have also been presented with a long list of questions by CPAC that they will hopefully respond to. Chemtura will also we hope be prepared to share with CPAC the lab results (soil & water) from their removal of 125 buried drums last summer.


This article in yesterday's Waterloo Region Record is well timed with my posting here last Thursday of the report on climate change and bird declines. Yesterday's story is titled "Naturalists searching for chimney swifts". My Thursday posting suggested that climate change could be a significant reason for the decline as insect populations are at their peak earlier in the season before swifts and other insectivores have nested. Thus with less food available, fewer young birds survive. Yesterday's story written by Linda Givetash of the Record states "In the last 40 years over 90 per cent of the bird's population has disappeared causing Bird Studies Canada to investigate and better understand chimney swifts in order to help protect them from extinction.".

This is another case of the interdependence of species on earth. With constantly increasing populations of humans the demand for food will only increase. At the same time if we are slowly killing off birds, which greatly reduce the same insects that damage crops, we are hurting ourselves. The immediate impacts of pollution are often the only ones we see early on. Subtle changes around us eventually can have huge negative effects .

Monday, August 20, 2012


Today's Waterloo Region Record on page A5 has a Notice advising Public Consultation for the Draft DWSP Plan for the Grand River watershed. I have commented here in the past about this mandated program which the province of Ontario passed down to the lower tiers of government in Ontario as well as to the Conservation Authorities.

The public meetings both for learning and commenting run from Monday September 17/12 in Grand Valley and go until Monday September 24/12 in Waterloo (1010 Erb's Rd.). The nearest ones to Woolwich Township would be in Guelph on September 18/12 at City Hall, Room 112, 1 Carden St.. Secondly would be on September 19 in Fergus at Wellington County Museum and Archives, Wellington Rd. 18. Finally of course the Waterloo location is fairly close to Woolwich Township residents. All meetings are from 7-9 pm. .

The Draft Source Protection Plan is available on the internet at . I have read major technical parts of it extensively and been impressed. There is very good information there which all residents of the Grand River watershed should have at least some basic understanding of. "The goal of the plan is to protect the sources of municipal drinking water in the Grand River watershed". This is a worthy goal and indeed positive steps are and have been undertaken. The problem is that this initiative came about after the Walkerton tragedy and is about one century too late. Even without ever increasing understanding of groundwater and contaminants within it, commonsense and old knowledge should have been employed at the turn of the twentieth century. It was not and the legacy of industrial dumping and on-site disposal of toxic wastewaters and sludges, continues to haunt us . Add to that the litany of leaking gas stations across our watershed (and every other one) and you have the mess we have today. Various old industrial sites are being remediated with little or no public oversight. Even here in Elmira it is stunning how the Ministry of the Environment have reverted back to their old position of denying access to groundwater reports and data. Twenty years ago when you requested data on the old Varnicolor sites they would publicly promise unfettered access. Now even though it is the same public groundwater being impacted their answer is far too often, we'll see or file a Freedom of Information request.

The other major problem with this whole exercise is the intentional deviousness of continuing to keep citizens uninformed. Our authorities know full well where the industrial skeletons are buried and which ones received little or no cleanup. The only possible way to avoid a massively expensive pipeline to Lake Erie and then to avoid massively expensive treatment facilities for that water is to begin one by one , real cleanups of these sites. To present they are left until redeveloped such as the one between Margaret Ave. and St. Ledger St. in Kitchener or they are given the pump and treat "cleanup". This nonsense has recently been soundly rejected by the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) and their Resolution unanimously endorsed by Woolwich Council. Pump and treat otherwise known as hydraulic containment does not effectively or realistically clean up sites. It does slow the natural leakage and downgradient dilution of contaminants. It is heartily endorsed by polluters, their consultants and regulaters (M.O.E.). All old contaminated sites should be named and pinpointed for the public's enlightenment. This has been studiously avoided by these Source Protection plans. This whole exercise is undermined by this omission and deception.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Three days ago, here in the Advocate I mentioned that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment consumes the mouse's share of our provincial budget, to wit .3 %. That is approximately 1/3 of a penny of every dollar spent by our provincial government goes to the M.O.E.. This figure was first given out publicly at CPAC by Steve Martindale of the M.O.E. Whereas Steve is sometimes on the receiving end of appropriate citizen criticism; nevertheless occasionally he regales CPAC with a pearl of wisdom such as this one.

I have since gone on-line after googling the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO). I was looking for the 2010/2011 Annual Report. Pages 81-84 are very interesting as the ECO, Mr. Gord Miller takes the province to task for their lack of funding for the M.O.E.. Table 5.1.1 shows us the two heavyweight Ministrys are Health and Education. The two smallest (financially) Ministrys are Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the M.O.E. is dead last. "For the fiscal year ending march 31, 2011, the Ontario government's total planned operating budget was approximastely $119 billion , a 72 per cent increase since 1992/1993. During that same period...M.O.E's budget dropped by 45 per cent (in 2009 constant dollars).".

"Figure 5.1.3 shows that in 1992/1993, MOE had its highest operating budget, $692.3 million. It then declined sharply, levelled off, improved for a few years, and then declined abruptly in 2006/2007 to $292.8 million. Since then, it has slowly improved. Still, in 2010/2011, MOE's planned operating budget is $379.3 million, 45 per cent less than in 1992/1993 (in 2009 constant dollars).".

All these facts, figures and statistics make something very clear to me. We are spending nearly $45 billion per year on Health care and $21 billion on Education while spending $379 million on the Environment. I submit that there is a correlation here. Less money on the Environment will directly impact higher our Health care costs and clearly we are wasting $ billions on Education as neither our citizens or politicians seem smart enough to figure out this corelation.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Today's Woolwich Observer (pg.4) has a public announcement titled "Notice OF Public Meeting To Develop A Community Liaison Committee". This CLC is for the approved Bio-Energy project to be built on Martin's lane in Elmira. A couple of weeks back I indicated here that the BFCC (Bio-Fuel Citizens Committee) and Woolwich Bio-En had come to an agreement which included the formation of this citizens' Liaison Committee.

The public meeting will be held on August 22/12, 7 pm. at Lion's Hall in Elmira. Preliminary Terms of Reference for the CLC will be explained as well Woolwich Bio-En will be available to answer questions from the public. Keep in mind that it appears as if all parties are dealing in good faith here but it is always helpful to have citizens come out and show a strong interest in keeping a new industry responsive to local residents concerns. "Bio-En will also be requesting volunteers from community members that are interested in participating in the CLC.".

It is my prior understanding that two current BFCC members will be part of this CLC and that Woolwich Bio-En will be appointing two more. Although the community strongly opposed this location in Elmira, our Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Energy and provincial government were not supportive or helpful. While it is appropriate to deal with the reality of this new industry situated close to residences in a constructive manner, nevertheless I believe very few citizens will forget the lack of support much less honest communications from the provincial level.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I trust that readers have noticed that this Blog/Website fairly routinely strays from strictly local environmental disasters, calamities, concerns and battles. I've introduced topics as varied as invasive species (Emerald Ash Borer), wind farms and climate change. All of these are relevant to Woolwich Township however plus it gives both you and I a break from constantly criticizing two or three local bad actors.

Climate change will affect all forms of life on earth. Some lifeforms will survive and thrive and others may literally disappear. Massive research and studies are underway around the world into these issues. My own children are currently so involved although my son is just going into his fourth year of university study of Biology. He has however had two summers of working in the field assisting professors doing research.

The Waterloo Region Record had a story titled "Many Canadian bird species in decline: report" that they published June 27, 2012 (pg. A7). The numbers and percentages are quite disconcerting for a large number of species. Despite this as we all see regularily, ducks and geese are thriving. Other species are having issues with declining habitat due in part to "...destruction of wetlands, grasslands and forests...". Another probable cause for declines is climate change. While some insects will thrive with warmer tempuratures thus providing greater food for the insectivores such as swallows, swifts and flycatchers there is a downside. Climate change changes the timing of insect populations. They may very well be peaking earlier in the season and migrating bird populations haven't yet been able to adjust. Therefore if the birds arrive and the insect peak has passed before they are raising their young, there will be less food for the nesting young. This could well be a major cause for declining populations in birds.

The bottom line is that changes to our environment, most especially manmade (anthropogenic) changes affect everything. Yes we are constantly studying and learning but it is out of necessity, after the fact. "Minor" issues like DDT caused widespread havoc to raptors in the 1960's before we knew what the problem was. This lack of knowledge at the time is what is slowly killing the planet and lifeforms on it. Much greater caution is needed or as Dr. Henry Regier often advises, a greater reliance on the Precautionary Principle.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


To a certain extent I can understand the Ontario Ministry of the Environment's position. They are grossly underfunded in relation to their mandate. If the 90's were called the "turnaround decade" then I expect the 2000's to be called the "appearance of the turnaround decade". I can just see the big shots sitting in a meeting asking each other how they can possibly spin their "David" of a Ministry into appearing as a force to be reckoned with against "Goliath" industry. Even worse how can they be seen as real defenders of the environment when the majority of their own colleagues in Cabinet and the legislature are at a minimum pro business and industry? Make no mistake for those with money and power, you are either with them or against them. Reasonableness and comprimise is for the weak.

The first most basic cloice is lying or telling the truth. Will the benefits of honesty such as grudging respect from citizens and a clear conscience outweigh the negatives of being honest? The negatives will expose the whole house of cards to scrutiny. Being honest is telling the citizens that the M.O.E. takes up .3% of the provincial budget. Not 3% but .3%. Being honest means that the M.O.E. must choose their battles wisely. They can not possibly enforce the current environmental legislation with all industry. Hell they can't even enforce it with most industry.

With this background I can understand their decision to proceed with puffery, terminological inexactitudes, massaging the truth and blatant horse manure. The do nothing approach is very inexpensive. You simply rename it as "monitoring". This monitoring can include for example taking groundwater readings from half a dozen wells on Varnicolor Chemical's Lot 91 in 1996 and then again in 2011. As the site is surrounded on three sides with Landfill Creek and a swamp you can safely assume that normal groundwater discharge will over time, reduce contaminant concentrations. Then be sure that you seal or decommission these wells so that they can't be used again.

At the 62 Union St. site now known as 84 Howard Ave. make sure that your wells are only in the thin Surficial Aquifer above the larger Upper Aquifer (UA). This gives you some plausible deniabilty regarding deeper contamination entering the Municipal drinking water Aquifer below the site. Conveniently refuse to acknowledge or comment on damning evidence such as DNAPLS found 100 feet below ground surface just west of Varnicolor by the Howard St. water tower. Also refuse to comment on 1,100 ppb. Petroleum Hydrocarbons found 3 metres west of the Varnicolor site at CH70D in the Municipal Aquifer.

Meanwhile back at Chemtura refuse to order them to take soil samples at GP1 & 2 more than 2 metres deep. You might find something demanding greater scrutiny and cleanup. Also when Chemtura remove 125 drums and carcasses (drums) from the M2 area in the south-west; make sure they don't present the lab results to CPAC or the public. There are people, myself included, who can understand and interpret them. This public knowledge is to be avoided at all costs.

Don't misunderstand me. Lying is not easy. It takes planning, coordination and special people. Not just anybody can do it and those that can and will must be rewarded for their loyalty.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Sometimes being technical is a drawback. For residents beside the two corridors that Hydro One are proposing being trimmed and sprayed; the issue is quite clear. These corridors are recognized trails used by adults, children and even wildlife. Herbicides have long been recogtnized as having significant animal and human health issues. Yes some are more dangerous than others but none of them are good for you.

"The company plans to trim vegetation to protect its power line equipment along two corridirs in the city."according to today's Waterloo Region Record article titled "Waterloo wants Hydro One to resist using herbicides along corridor". I honestly don't find the quote about protecting power line equipment to be a clear explanation. What equipment is grass going to threaten? If it's small trees and limbs touching live cables then surely trimming will be effective for a significant length of time. My suspicion here is that as always herbicides are simply the quickest, cheapest solution, not the only solution. Based on human experience around the use of these toxins, these parents and residents are right to make a stink. Just for once what is known as the Precautionary Principle in science, should take precedence.

Kudos to the City of Waterloo for standing up and supporting their residents legitimate concerns for the health of the environment and all living things. Further kudos to Hydro One if they are able to resolve their problems without endangering others.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Despite the recent relief from drought conditions here in southern Ontario (with more rain predicted this week), water conservation needs to be a year round occurrence. Last week's Elmira independent has an excellent article on page 11 titled "How to conserve our most precious resource" written by N. Glenn Perrett. Often articles like this have a brief description of the author's background but not so in this case.

Common sense goes a long ways. This includes letting your lawn go dormant during a drought, only running dishwashers and laundry machines when you have a full load and taking short showers versus long ones or baths which use more water. In addition replacing toilets and washing machines with more effecient ones using less water is a good idea.

Rainbarrels are fast becoming a staple and in fact my wife far prefers watering the garden and shrubs with rain water versus chlorinated tapwater. Then we get to the somewhat tougher choices. Fixing any and all leaky taps, faucets and toilets will save you money (and water) in the long run. Eating less meat as animals require much more water than grains to produce equal amounts of food for human consumption. Then the one that is closest to my heart: VOICE YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS ! This can be from mega quarries north of us (Melancthon Township) which threaten wetlands and groundwater to more local wetland and groundwater issues. These would include GRCA approvals around floodplain/wetland development to "natural attenuation" of highly contaminated groundwater by allowing it to discharge to creeks and rivers which simply dilute the toxins and allow them to spread farher and wider. Kudos to both Mr. Perrett and the Independent for this article.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story and event. The title is "Paddle the Grand event aims to raise opposition to mega-quarry proposal". We are of course referring to the proposed limestone quarry near the headwaters of the Grand River as well as others. The size of this quarry is unprecedented both in surface area and depth as it will be 200 feet deep.

The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) has expressed concerns with the province regarding possible impacts to groundwater. Local citizens and even those from as far away as Toronto have been speaking and protesting in opposition to this project for nearly two years.

The multtiude of issues include destruction of farmland, massive pumping and removal of groundwater and destruction of natural habitat. Other issues may arise simply based on the magnitude of the project. The Paddle the Grand event will start on Sunday at 9 am., 10,11 and noon from the Canoeing the Grand headquarters at 3734 King St. E. in Kitchener.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Both our local newspapers are carrying stories regarding the drought this summer. This is ironic as at the moment we are into our second day of steady (but light) rain. I'm hoping that despite the weeks and months of no precipitation that this is a major turnaround point.

The Elmira Independent have this story "GRCA reduces water flows" and the Woolwich Observer (pg.3) carry this one "As drought conditions persist, GRCA asks for water restrictions". The Independent story advises us again that water in the Grand River and its' tributaries is needed for both drinking water and SEWAGE DILUTION. Isn't that charming? Isn't that a really charming combination? If you are concerned about this, rest easy, you aren't paranoid nor an alarmist. Only in the political landscape of Wonderland can politicians continue to increase yearly the sewage (treated mostly) dumped into our rivers while assurring us that tap water is just dandy.

The Observer inform us that water managers and others at the GRCA are continually monitoring the water levels as well as the volumes they are releasing from dams on the Canagagigue Creek, Conestoga River and the Grand River. The whole idea is to keep enough water in the Grand to permit extraction and treatment for drinking as well as for diluting the effluent leaving sewage treatment plants in St. Jacobs, Fergus, Elmira, Waterloo, Kitchener and cities and towns further south. Rain and normal precipitation levels hide a multitude of sins. When conditions deteriorate, such as with the effects of global warming, namely greater heat and less rain and snow locally; then we immediately can see how unsustainable our current growth really is. The problem is that big money can be made with unsustainable increases in our population. Our governments are protecting this moneymaking for the few at the expense of the rest of us.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Oh hypocrisy thy name is Harold Albrecht. Yesterday in the mail I received another one of his propaganda sheets. This letter to constituents like many others is shameless to the extreme. There are certain Conservative policys and ideals that I can accept as worthwhile. This one however has in bold print... PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT. That is beyond crass and brass.

Today's Waterloo Region Record has an Opinion piece which exactly exemplifies my point. Thomas Walkom has an article titled "Harper's pipeline "about face" is anything but". If it was available I would have provided a link to it for you the readers. Nevertheless this piece by Mr. Walkom demonstrates Stephen Harper's and the federal Conservatives total disrespect for science based decision making. Hypocrisy they embrace but honest science simply is not to be trusted. Especially when it conflicts with any Conservative ideology.

Back to Mr. Albrecht. His letter allegedly is a form of survey asking his constituents which party they believe is on the right track to protect our environment. Most of them are bad but Conservatives take the cake for environmental protection. Harold and Stephen do us all a favour and focus on your core strenghths. Pretending to give a tinkers damn for the environment just paints you as liars and hypocrites.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


This is an interesting development. According to today's Waterloo Region Record, city councillors have somehow been put more firmly on the liability hook for water quality in their jurisdictions. Apparently the provincial Safe Drinking Water Act states that as of this January,liability switches away from Staff who follow orders to Councils and Councillors who give them. The title of the article is "City councillors legally responsible for clean water". Keep in mind councillors are completely covered by municipal liability insurance so fines aren't the problem. What would interest me is if down the road safe drinking water moved up to criminal status and penalties. Boy would you see bureaucrats and politicians running for cover then.

This legislation was the result of the fatal Walkerton water crisis. Criminal negligence charges were and still are a possible remedy especially in a case of neglect as glaring as occurred in Walkerton. There the negligence was spread far and wide and included individual employees, municipal staff and provincial M.O.E. personnel. The Region of Waterloo were fined for infractions in 2009. For me the most interesting aspect was their failure to advise the public after learning three days after the fact that they had released untreated water into the Cambridge distribution system. Public trust is much easier lost than regained.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


At a public CPAC meeting recently the Ontario M.O.E.'s Great lakes Guardian Community Fund was discussed. The M.O.E. have recently released an information document advising the public as to dates and locations for information sessions. Some of the nearest ones are tomorrow in Kingston, August 15 in Windsor and August 22 in Cambridge. August 23 (First Nations groups omly) and August 29 will be held in Toronto. Appasrently the M.O.E. want preregistration done before they decide on the specific time and location in each community. The e-mail to register is .

Examples given as to community projects include cleaning up shorelines, building walking trails and protecting habitat again through cleanups and education. Locally one of our SWAT (Soil Water Air Technical) team members has suggested that perhaps CPAC might be able to access some research funding through this program. My take on this whole exercise is that while undoubtedly positive and worthwhile and some good can certainly come from it, it could also be construed as an admission from our authorities that this is all there is. I have been blunt about my disgust and disappointment surrounding the Ontario M.O.E.'s impotence. Maybe if the M.O.E. and other government Ministries were more forthcoming as to what they can currently actually accomplish; they might get some significant public support for a realignment of priorities and funding by our provincial governments.

Monday, August 6, 2012


I mentioned last week that the hydrogeological consultant for Elmira Pump (formerly Varnicolor) had made inquiries of Chemtura (CRA) in regards to a petroleum hydrocarbon reading just a few feet off the old Varnicolor site. When I asked Jeff Merriman of Chemtura about this information in their June Progress Report Jeff stated that it wasn't petroleum hydrocarbons discovered in well CH70D at 1,100 parts per billion (ppb), it was actually chlorobenzene. Well that made no sense at the time because chlorobenzene was already reported as being present at 1,900 ppb.

Over the last several days, including this long weekend, I have been rereading hydrogeological reports and studies for both former Varnicolor sites, namely the Union St. site and also the Lot 91 at the extreme east end of Oriole Parkway. Just as importantly I've been doing basic research into what exactly petroleum hydrocarbons are. The short version is that they are components of crude oil made up of hydrocarbon compounds which of course are simply hydrogen and carbon. There are literally hundreds of different hydrocarbon compounds which can be broken down into all sorts of classifications including alkanes, aliphatics, aromatics, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons etc.. Petroleum hydrocarbons also have ranges which simply indicate the number of carbon atoms in them. For example typical gasoline components have a fraction or carbon range between C4 and C12. Similarily jet fuels have a range of C4 to C14. Diesel fuel is from C7 to C24 and so on. BTEX compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes) are very common gasoline and jet fuel chemicals and their range is from C6 to C8. There are tremendous overlaps in both various chemical compounds in diesel fuels, heating fuels, gasoline, jet fuel, lubricating oils, solvents etc. as well as overlaps in the fractions or carbon ranges. Essentially it's both the number of carbon and hydrogen atoms as well as the percentages by weight of each of these different combinations which determine what the final product is.

What I have learned is both stunning and a confirmation of what I have seen in the past. The stunning part is that both sites are just filled with petroleum hydrocarbons. 1,100 ppb in CH70D is absolutely nothing compared to what was in the subsurface of that site twenty years ago. The confirmation deals with the ability in chemistry to come up with shortforms and synonyms. I have seen fairly common solvents described using weird and esoteric chemical names in various M.O.E. and other reports. Some Lot 91 reports refer to for example "Benzene-C3". Other Varnicolor Chemical reports just generally refer to "alkylbenzenes". Others specify "C3-alkylbenzene". Finally we have "propylbenzenes". Essentially as best I can determine they are identical. Same thing with "Benzene-C4", "C-4 alkylbenzene" and butylbenzene. This terminology makes it nearly impossible for lay people to fully understand what they are reading.

Various soil concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons on the former Varnicolor sites are in the low parts per million range (ppm) on Lot 91 as well as 20-40 ppm (ie. 20,000-40,000 ppb.) on the Union St. site with one notable exception of 100,000 ppb. of C4-alkylbenzene. There is however a January 10/95 chart of soil samples for Lot 91 which has incredible concentrations of BTEX chemicals most notably xylenes as high as 900-1000 parts per million (ppm). Toluene hits 300 and 400 thousand parts per billion (ppb.) in the soil. Groundwater readings on lot 91 both twenty years ago and currently still exceed cleanup criteria but we are assurred that "natural attenuation" will take care of that. Somewhat similar to death taking care of cancer in my opinion. Groundwater readings on the main Varnicolor site on Union St. exceed the 100 part per million range for BTEX chemicals. Yes greater than 100 ppm. is greater than 100,000 parts pre billion (ppb.). Similarily the chlorinated solvents on the site exceed 100 ppm. as well. Is it any wonder twenty years of pump and treat with a four foot only initial excavation has not suceeded in cleaning up this site? Simiarily the exceedances on Lot 91 are being permitted to slowly discharge to Landfill Creek. What hasn't been pointed out is the sheer NUMBERS of DIFFERENT contaminants on both sites. No one has tested for everything possible but they still have found in excess of two hundred different industrial/toxic chemicals between both sites.

This is the reality of industrial pollution in Ontario. Even horribly polluted sites are not "cleaned up". They are studied and tested. Then there is a superficial cleanup done. Our surface water bodies as well as air and groundwater slowly absorb the rest over decades. This is what we are leaving our children and grandchildren. Shame on all of us.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


A year and a half ago I offerred my knowledge and data to a relative and employee of the current owner of the former Varnicolor Chemical site on Union St. in Kitchener. Then just this last spring I contacted the owner of this company namely Jim Germann. He owns and operates Elmira Pump which now has a Howard ave. address. Mr. Germann was concerned as to my interest in the site. I attempted to reassure him that my concerns dealt with possible contamination to the Municipal Aquifer caused by the former owner Varnicolor Chemical. I also advised him of my lack of confidence in the Ontario M.O.E. to appropriately deal with the situation.

I was informed that Elmira Pump had retained the services of a hydrogeologist. The name was confirmed by Amy Shaw of the M.O.E. at the last CPAC meeting. That was an excellent idea however I truly wonder as to how much information he was provided by the M.O.E.. There are multiple hydrogeological reports from Canviro, Golder Assoc. and the M.O.E. themselves. Some of these go back to 1986. Secondly there is tons of soil and groundwater data and history that never got into any hydrogeological reports. In a nutshell I suspect that Mr. Germann and his hydrogeologist may have been given the mushroom treatment by the M.O.E..

Courtesy of what I believe are inaccuracies from Jeff Merriman of Chemtura concerning a large petroleum hydrocarbon detection a few feet off the old Varnicolor site; I have been doing some more research. It turns out that numerous high concentration chemicals found in both the soil and groundwater of Varnicolor over twenty years ago; indeed are petroleum hydrocarbons. Some of the concentrations are astonishing. These chemicals are above and beyond the normal and usual BTEX compounds namely Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylenes.

What is also of concern is the depth of some of these findings. We have been advised recently at CPAC by the M.O.E. that the top four feet of ground was removed from the Union St. site. These readings begin at five feet and go down only as deep as they tested which was twelve feet. At the twelve foot depth the concentrations, quantity and variety of chemicals are astonishing. Jeff Merriman claimed that the petroleum hydrocarbon reading at CH70D was Chlorobenzene. Chlorobenzene is not a petroleum hydrocarbon and indeed was tested for on it's own and detected at a different concentration.

What also concerns me is where these readings and concentrations were taken. Despite the very best efforts of the M.O.E. twenty plus years ago, a buried tanker and septic tank hooked up to a floor drain were discovered. The appearance was of a very sophisticated liquid toxic waste dumping system. All parties of course denied that. Twenty plus years ago Rich Clausi, Ted Oldfield, myself and APTE had zero groundwater and toxic waste experience. Since that time yours truly has learned, kept his eyes and ears open and always known that further information would slowly come out that would clarify the Varnicolor mysteries. These recently discovered petroleum hydrocarbons at CH70D are either from Chemtura/Uniroyal which puts the lie to their recent claims that only Chlorobenzene, NDMA and Ammonia are in the off-site aquifers OR they are from the former Varnicolor and most likely were never disclosed to Elmira Pump when they purchased the site. They could also be from both sites. The old Varnicolor site needs to be cleaned properly not just given the M.O.E.'s usual rubber stamp of approval. It should not however be at the expense of Elmira Pump. They are not one of the guilty parties in this coverup.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Well Woolwich residents have a virtual smorgasboard of reading pleasure this long weekend in their two local papers. Gail Martin of the Elmira Independent as usual attended last week's public CPAC meeting. She has no less than three stories between the front page and page two. The front page story is titled "Opposition to excavation plan continues". Page two has "Groundwater cleanup tops $10 million" as well as "Buried drums excavated". The Woolwich Observer have a front page story titled "MOE carries out testing of contaminants on Elmira's Lot 91" and then a small article on page five titled "Environmental groups condemn Chemtura plan".

The Independent's front page article focused on CPAC's continued opposition to Chemtura's so called cleanup plans for GP1 & 2 which contain amongst a litany of other toxins, DDT and Dioxin. CPAC were also upset at Chemtura's Press Release which was worded to appear as if they had some community support for their plan, which they don't. The second article refers to the tax dollars that have gone towards the Uniroyal/Chemtura cleanup since 1989. It currently stands at $10 million and is rising. The third article deals with 125 buried drums and accompanying contaminated soil that was removed by Chemtura last summer. This excavation went down 3 metres or nearly ten feet versus their proposed one foot excavation in GP1 & 2 scheduled for this October. CPAC and yours truly still have not received lab results which would indicate concentrations as well as specific chemicals discovered.

The Woolwich Observer have a small picture of the M.O.E.'s truck and trailer parked just outside the Lot 91 property. The Observer interviewed Amy Shaw of the M.O.E. who essentially parroted the M.O.E.'s position at CPAC regarding "natural attenuation". I described this so called process yesterday here in the Advocate. The Observer made one error in stating "Routine checks on chemical levels in the groundwater have been conducted ever since, with each of the resuts indicating lower levels of contaminants.". I'm not sure where that comes from as the article earlier indicates that the only result the public has received was taken in 2011, fifteen years after the 1996 results. The Observer's second small article indicates opposition to Chemtura's Dioxin/DDT cleanup plan from CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee), APTE (Assurring Protection for Tomorrow's Environment) and EHT (Elmira Environmental Hazards Team. As a co-founder with Rich Clausi, I vote for EHT as having the coolest sounding name.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Don't ever fool yourself. That is and always has been the attitude, behaviour and reality in the Grand River watershed. Last week it was on display at the public CPAC meeting when the Director of the West Central Region of the M.O.E. promoted the local abatement office's claims that chemicals above the provincial cleanup criteria in the groundwater at former Varnicolor's lot 91 were being "naturally attenuated". Natural attenuation is the buzzword for doing nothing and letting the groundwater be diluted when it discharges into the nearest creek. At Lot 91 that is landfill Creek which borders two sides of Lot 91.

Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Dry weather means more than just brown grass". "Rainfall in the last two days has convinced local water managers to postpone declaring the situation desperate, said Grand River Conservation Authority spokesperson Cam Linwood.". Here in Elmira we received a heavy rain for all of ten minutes. If that's all that's between us and "desperate" then indeed we are in big trouble.

I give credit to Eric Hodgins and the Region of Waterloo for being honest concerning the ongoing drought. "As the Grand River has been flowing at dangerously low levels during this hot summer, the risk of the river not being able to absorb all the discharge pumped into it by waste-water treatment plants is real, said Eric Hodgins, the Region of Waterloo's hydrology and source water manager.". First of all "waste-water treatment plants" is a euphimism coined years ago to hide the ugly reality. These are sewage treatment plants and they are dumping human sewage into the river. Mostly it's treated and usually it's treated but not always. Engineers and hydrologists calculate the "assimilative capacity" of the river. This again is nothing but a fancy word for how much can the river dilute the effluent from our treatment plants. The problem is obvious. Our provincial and federal governments insist that regional and municipal governments plan for and accomodate the neverending influx of more immigrants. Not only is the river's "assimilative capacity" fixed, in reality it is declining. Anybody heard of global warming? We are looking at and indeed receiving more heat and less rain. At the same time our population and accompanying sewage is increasing.

This scenario can only continue with the debasement of our surface water bodies including the Nith, Conestoga, Speed and Grand Rivers. Creeks as well with sewage treatment plants on them such as the Canagagigue in Elmira will also deteriorate. Dilution is NOT the solution to pollution. Our politicians in their short sightedness have been operating forever on the false belief that it is.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) have sent out a Media Release advising their position in regards to Chemtura's (Uniroyal Chemical) proposed remediation of Dioxins and DDT on the south-east corner of their site. CPAC and their Chair Dan Holt have listed a number of reasons why they feel Chemtura's plan is totally inadequate. These include technical reasons surrounding both past and current mobilization of these compounds and hence discharge into Canagagigue Creek. They also include the local community's input to this proposed cleanup as well as the stated objectives of both the Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.) as well as Chemtura. Finally CPAC have raised the issue of Responsible Care and the Chemical Industry Association of Canada (CIAC). Chemtura failed their last reverification attempt last summer due to problems with community communications. Chair Dan Holt ends the media Release with these words "In light of this, CPAC believes that it is critical for Chemtura to reconsider their proposed action plan and implement the preferred option that evolved from the community input provided, and for the MOE to assist CPAC in facilitating a reconsideration.". Further to these discussions around mobilization of Dioxins and DDT, CPAC's SWAT Team have been researching and distributing to CPAC members information concerning solvent mobilization of hydrophobic compounds such as Dioxins and DDT. It is very discouraging when Chemtura and their consultants (CRA) appear unwilling to acknowledge established research indicating the circumstances under which solvent mobilization of these compounds can occur. A bald, blunt, blanket statement denying solvent mobilization is an insult and an affront to the public as well as to CPAC. Chemtura and CRA are allegedly professionals. Defend your statement. Qualify it even. But simply pretending there is no issue, along with support from your partners in pollution, the M.O.E., simply make you look like you're lying.