Monday, December 30, 2013


I have two newspaper references for this posting namely the New York Times "For lakes, Small Beads Pose Threat" and the Waterloo Region Record "Group of 100 cities calls for action on "microplastics". These microplastics are tiny little beads that are used in used in personal care products such as facial and body washes, deodourants and toothpaste. They do not biodegrade but in fact are mistaken for food by fish. They also tend to become coated with poisons already in the water such as PCB's. These beads therefore bioaccumulate and could eventually work their way up the food chain, back to humans. Apparently these plastic beads are so tiny that they are not screened out at water treatment plants (ie. sewage treatment plants). This health care threat to wildlife and humans shows the wisdom in the O'Connor Report dealing with the Walkerton, Ontario water crisis over thirteen years ago. Justice O'Connor recommended a multi barrier system to keep toxins out of our water, namely not counting on end of the pipe treatment to cure all ills. Clearly Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and others counted on our sewage treatment plants to deal with this problem of their making. Poor decision.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


O.K. first off the proposed Northern Northern Gateway Pipeline is a very long ways away from Woolwich Township. So sue me for my being geographically challenged. A week ago Friday (Dec. 20/13) the Waterloo Region Record carried this story "Review panel supports Northern Gateway pipeline, but with 209 conditions". My experience with support for a project with so called "conditions" involved is that they are essentially meaningless. Here in Elmira, Ontario "conditions" on Certificates of Approval or on Control Orders are mostly window dressing. They are supposed to alleviate and mitigate concerns simply by being put on paper. In other words the 209 conditions are only as good as the integrity and ethics of both the review panel and the proponent. Hence they could be significant or not at all.

From this far away and being basically retired it's very easy for me to throw stones and bemoan the incredible environmental risks involved. These risks are more than just tangible and possible; they are most likely probably going to happen. The more miles, the more volume, the more rivers and streams that are crossed accompanied with typical Canadian oversight and supervision environmentally means there will be spills, leaks and God help us out and out disasters eventually. Does Canada as a whole actually benefit that much from this project or is it the usual very few and very wealthy simply becoming more so? We, Canadians, have become skeptics but for very good reason. Our governments at all levels lie to us constantly and without shame. Then they act surprised when we tell them we no longer believe a word they say.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Well there you go. I went down to Lazer Video this morning to pick up a DVD for the wife and I this evening as well as to get this week's Woolwich Observer. So I get home and I'm finding the Observer seems somewhat familiar. I check the date and sure enough it's last week's edition. What the heck!!! So either it's late today or it's not coming out till tomorrow. Regardless I notice a little tiny article I had missed last week. The article is titled "Woolwich to fight for transfer stations".

Quoting Mayor Cowan in the article "Addressing the issue at this week's council meeting, Mayor Todd Cowan said the savings would pale in comparison to the inconvenience caused to rural residents, noting the Elmira facility alone has seen some 25,000 visitors this year.". Well this is a good thing that our council are on board. As per yesterday's posting here I agree with him that the savings are very minor versus the services rendered. Now of course the big problem is for our one regional rep (Mayor Cowan) to be able to disuade the rest of regional council from this token, ineffective course of action.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Four waste transfer stations may close". Firstly the amount of money to be saved is a pittance. Secondly why pick on the services to the Townships other than they are low voting areas and regional councillors in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge vastly outnumber the single reps from each of the Townships. There are certain core, fundamental areas of government responsibility and I would argue that waste collection and handling is one of them. Residents here in Elmira are conscientous about taking to our waste transfer station on Howard Ave. things that can't go out in the weekly garbage.

We pay our police department $135 million per year. These four transfer stations together will save $300,000. Policemen are all rapidly approaching the $100,000 mark on wages. Yes regional councillors and others are belatedly recognizing that police salaries and wages are not sustainable. They aren't the only ones. Teachers, firemen, politicians and municipal and regional staff all have to wake up and smell the taxpayer angst. Our costs are constantly rising while our incomes are stagnant.

Cutting back on a proper outlet for our garbage will increase vehicle trips to out of town landfills/transfer stations and or increase illegal dumping. Too little too late our politicians are waking up to the reality that taxes are not a bottomless well.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


This article was in last Thursday's Elmira Independent and the title under Woolwich Council Briefs was "Township to get Source protection funding from province". Boy talk about a classic case of slamming the gate after the horse has bolted. Granted the funding is only about $30,000 and it's to cover costs of changes to zoning by-laws as well as public education programs.

The irony comes in a number of issues. First off Council are currently attempting to stop underground fuel tanks being installed on Earl Martin Drive almost beside the former south wellfield (E7/E9). The car wash would like to install them as part of their business. The question is whether that wellfield will ever be up and running again. Certainly putting underground fuel tanks beside it hardly is a vote of confidence and could be the straw that breaks the camel's back, down the road. The village of West Montrose are having their local infiltration wells in the Grand River floodplain replaced with a pipeline from Conestogo. The wells in Conestogo being used will be the ones west of the Golf Course Rd. wells which are also somewhat impacted by Grand River water.

Last but not least we look at the village of Heidelberg. A little birdie has advised me that the gas station on the main corner is being excavated again to remove source material ie gasoline. My belief is that the former owner was Elmira's illustrious, longtime former mayor, Bill Strauss.

Source protection of water supplies is a good thing but preferable when done before the wells are contaminated.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Well here in Elmira, Woolwich Township, we had our power out yesterday from 11 am until 5 pm. I know places in Kitchener had been out of power as of 6 am yesterday and were still out by 9 last evening. Meanwhile for the third time this year we had branches come down off of mature but certainly not old trees. April and yesterday was due to ice and the wind brought two branches down this past summer. Speaking of summer this last one didn't have a drought as it usually does. The prior summer however was bone dry. This fall we had weeks of rain and with the local construction on Church St. a muddy mess for months.

Are there still climate change skeptics out there? That's the deal with "global warming". It's actually more a case of climate change with extreme weather slowly becoming the norm. Certainly our neighbours to the south have had more than their fair share of destructive weather the last few years.

Anyhow this morning I'm off to replenish my supply of sand and what I call psuedo salt. it's supposed to melt ice but not actually be salt. Home Hardware here I come.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


This is a wee bit embarassing in that I have a hard copy in front of me dealing with Woolwich Township "...installing emergency standby power generators at their sanitary pumping stations...". The problem is I'm scratching my head as to the source of this document. Usually if an article comes to my attention in a local paper I physically cut the article out for use here in the Elmira Advocate. This paper clearly has been printed out by my computer printer which makes me suspect that it was an on-line news article. While possible you usually don't see on-line stuff dealing with Woolwich. Oh well the title of this article is "New Emergency Standby Power Generators at Woolwich Pumping Stations".

As I took a shot at Woolwich Council yesterday I think it's only fair to commend them when they make good decisions. This case is one of those. A few years back we had a spill/overflow of raw sewage into the Canagagigue Creek when a pumping station backed up due to no power to pump the contents to the Elmira Sewage Treatment Plant. It seems as if Council and staff have taken this seriously and have appropriately spent taxpayers funds to protect the health and safety of both citizens and the environment. I would hope that these appropriate infrastructure expenses are never criticized as these are the meat and potatoes of what government spending should be all about.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Yesterday's Elmira Independent carrys this story by Gail Martin "Woolwich Township rejects funding for biogas committee". A delegation to Woolwich Council from the Woolwich Bio-En Citizens Liason Committee (CLC) asked Woolwich Council for matching funds for peer reviews of technical documents that may arise in the future. This citizens committee was mandated by the Environmental Review Tribunal after these local citizens put their time and money on the line to protect themselves and all of Elmira from possible negative effects of having a biogas facility within Elmira and very near residential areas.

A week ago I posted here that the story in the Woolwich Observer stated that Woolwich Council turned down providing any money at all to this CLC because they weren't a committee of council. As the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) was raised as an example of a committee of council it appeared in the Observer article that council were inferring that CPAC were getting money from council. I was appropriately upset by this erroneous inference hence the title of my posting "Are Woolwich Council being a tad hypocritical?"

Yesterday's story indicates that council's concern is one of both fairness and control. It wouldn't be fair to be cheap and miserly to CPAC and then give money to the Bio-En CLC. Further as was mentioned in Bob Jonkman's website (Stop the Stink) the other issue is control. Dave Brenneman, CAO of Woolwich, refers to it as council not having "...any influence on who and what our money is being used for." In other words control. I certainly hope that Dave's reference to "our money" doesn't mean council's money but instead refers to Woolwich citizens' money. To put it very bluntly this council may be in charge of Woolwich expenditures but that certainly doesn't mean they are either qualified or knowledgable about what they are doing. That being said, to their shame, past councils have behaved equally badly or worse. Their support of their own committee has been based on total control through their past Chair Pat McLean. They have not financially supported CPAC via peer reviews unless again they were in total control of the peer review through their Chair.

This Council made a major positive step in supporting CPAC's groundbreaking Resolution over a year and a half ago. Their half ways subtle removal of the old CPAC was also a huge positive step. Their financial non-support as well as their interference into CPAC's choice of new members (moi) is troubling. Will the real Woolwich Council please step forward.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Back in the early 90's when Uniroyal and the M.O.E. were talking Pump & Treat containment of their site, APT Environment coined the phrase Pump & Dump. It expressed their concerns that toxic Uniroyal compounds would be discharged directly into the creek albeit at lower concentrations than were already so discharging. Eventually the M.O.E. and Uniroyal came to an agreement on a Certificate of Approval allowing them to so discharge their treated on-site groundwater. Later on this C of A was expanded to include not only the Municipal Upper Aquifer and 1/4 of the shallow aquifer (UA) but also the off-site pumping wells.

In Table A.1 of the November Progress Report we can see the Discharge Limits for the off-site treatment of groundwater. These limits are way too high starting at .14 ppb for NDMA through 4, 5, 7, and 10 parts per billion (ppb) for other compounds. Keep two things in mind 1) there are way more than ten compounds shown in the groundwater and 2) the Ontario Drinking Water Standard (ODWS) for NDMA is .009 ppb. Therefore the current discharge limit is about fourteen times higher than the ODWS. Clearly our M.O.E. are all about dilution being the solution to pollution.

I wish to point out that the four compounds shown in Table A.3 at high concentrations in the shallow aquifer containment wells all have been defined as DNAPL chemicals. There are concentrations in the 5,000-8,000 ppb range and particularily as these compounds are hypothetically either non soluble or have extremely low solubility then it is probable that they are present in their free phase form as well. This is but one example of many indicating the falsehoods being sold to Elmira citizens and the M.O.E.'s enabling of it.

Table C.1 has an interesting detection of methylene chloride theoretically upstream at SS-110. It is usual for Chemtura and other polluters to write this chemical off as a laboratory artifact however they found it and in this case I believe them.

The good news continues to be the pumping rates off and on site. Chemtura are at long last on track with their Pump & treat system which seems to be operating these days with minimal breakdowns, shutdowns and unexpected maintenance. Let's see how long this continues.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


The short and simple answer is yes. Will they be restored by 2028? Absolutely not. That was a date thrown out there via private agreement between the polluter (Uniroyal) and the (ir)responsible governing bodies of the day. The date was picked far enough down the road to ensure that most of the living activists in Elmira were either dead or senile.

Municipal, regional and provincial governments all shared responsibility for the Elmira disaster. Unlike the Walkerton disaster, the extent of Elmira's mass poisoning of citizens via drinking water has never been properly documented or publicized. This is exactly what the (ir)responsible parties have worked hard to keep hidden. Similarily the (ir)responsible parties have never provided the financial or legal resources necessary to clean up the Elmira Aquifers in a timely fashion. At the moment Chemtura, while being enabled by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, are simply running out the clock. The credibility of both parties is exactly where they have put it, and that is in the dumpster. Current promises to triple off-site pumping rates while doing source removal via In Situ Chemical Oxidation are stalled. Over a year after tripling the pumping rates was proposed we have seen no studies showing that either the Canagagigue Creek can assimilate that volume of semi contaminated discharge or that they will have a superior treatment system to dramatically lower future discharges.

The Elmira Aquifers will either be restored when we are desperate for potable water or via fifty more years of pumping and treating off-site. The former will occur when governments realize they need the drinking water now and will spend the money for proper cleanup. The latter will occur only if there is better and more complete on-site containment and more on-site source removal occurs. Both are required. All three levels of our government lied to us one to hide their culpability in the disaster and secondly to induce Uniroyal to spend time and money even on an inadequate cleanup. The public interest has come in a long, long way behind private and government interests.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Dropping water demand pushes Lake Erie pipeline past 2051". So our population continues to grow dramatically as evidenced by continuing real estate sales, new residential construction, higher traffic volumes and of course the so called need for Light Rail transit. So far so good and I can certainly agree with John Jackson's position that reliance on Lake Erie's water is very problematic. There are both huge quality and cost issues involved with the long proposed pipeline.

The problem is the horse manure being sold to the public. Yes summer lawn watering has been greatly reduced via essentially voluntary restrictions. As far as fewer washing machines, dishwashers , showers and toilet flushings give me a break. They have but one direction only to go as our ever increasing population continues to rise. The elephant in the room which apparently politicians don't want to mention is Ontario's and the Region of Waterloo's industrial collapse. Heavy and light manufacturing uses vast quantities of water. Budd, Uniroyal, Kaufman, textiles, furniture manufacturing; they've all gone south and east thankyou very much to our federal politicians via one way "free trade" deals. The rich have gotten richer while the rest of us have lost high wage jobs and the next generation never will have them. This and this alone is why the Region of Waterloo as well as other jurisdictions are experiencing relief from evergrowing water demands. It would be nice if this silver lining would extend to air pollution improvements as well but with production merely shifting around the world and air being much more homogeneous this will be limited.

Monday, December 16, 2013


CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) are proceeding with a couple of ideas which are part of their public education mandate. Speakers from CPAC whether in pairs or singularily will be accepting invitations from community groups to talk about the Elmira water contamination including the current status, future plans and goals. Yours truly has volunteered to assist in case either historical or extremely specific questions regarding Elmira's groundwater are forthcoming from the audience. Volunteers to date include Dr. Dan Holt (Chair), Sebastian Seibel Achenbach (Vise-Chair), Ron Campbell and Graham Chevreau. Certainly the last two have very technical backgrounds and as we have seen, Sebastian and Dan have attacked this, for them, new field of knowledge with vigour. Although CPAC meetings are routinely reported in the Elmira Independent neither the K-W Record nor Woolwich Observer attend, which makes it more important for CPAC members to take the message to the public directly.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "River loaded with diet sweeteners". These sweeteners specifically include cyclamate, saccharin, sucralose and acesulfame. The theme of my posting was going to be that you only find in either groundwater or surface water; compounds that you are testing for. In other words diet sweeteners today and God knows what tomorrow. It puts an entirely different perspective on our so called heritage Grand River when we begin to realize how little we actually know about what is in it courtesy of human beings.

Then my wee brain did a little jerk. I recalled from decades ago certain controversies surrounding saccharin. Sure enough a few minutes on Wikipedia brought it all back. Saccharin at one time was banned for various health hazards allegedly including carcinogenic properties. To this day cyclamates are still banned in the U.S. whereas many other countries permit them. Saccharin seems to have been rehabilatated reputation wise. One of these four even has a different name which is almost identical to a Chemtura (Uniroyal) toxic compound known as Benzothiazole. While I recognize that chemical compounds can be very close to each other and still have entirely different effects on living organisms; nevertheless I have a personal concern when I see cyclohexlamines, amines (NH) and other toxic compounds being used in foods or drinks. There definitely seems to be some serious scientific concerns with at least some of these sweeteners and that's enough for me. They should not be in the Grand River in the first place but now that we know they are there will we do anything about it or will we wait until we see negative biological effects either on wildlife or humans consuming the water?

Friday, December 13, 2013


Today's Woolwich Observer has a small article titled "No Woolwich funding for biogas group". Another title for my posting here could be "No good deed goes unpunished". This group of citizens represent the interests of all Elmira citizens via their spending their time and money by sitting on the Citizens Liason Committee (CLC) dealing with operations at Woolwich Bio-En. Thay had originally participated in public meetings and protests with the support by the way originally of Mayor Cowan and Woolwich Council. This turned south rather abruptly although major efforts were made unsucessfully to relocate the operation outside of Elmira.

They also spent their money, not the Township's in appealing to the Environmental Review Tribunal which among other things mandated setting up the CLC and a system of matching dollars for peer reviews. What I found most hypocritical in this article was the fact that councillors in refusing to turn public money over to this group who are representing the public; dared to suggest that as a committee of council they would more likely receive money. In fact they used the example of the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) being a committee of council and hence eligible for peer review money. Fat chance of that as the Township has always tried to get Chemtura to pay for any CPAC expenses. CPAC are constantly asking for money for peer reviews of technical documents produced by Chemtura's consultants CRA. To state that CRA's reports are client driven is a major understatement and even newer CPAC members understand that. Just recently Council have offerred to pay travel expenses for CPAC members to attend meetings. This is nothing more than a reminder as to which body are in charge and as the article states CPAC are under the control of the Township. It absolutely isn't a case of the blind leading the blind. It's a case of the woefully ignorant and biased constantly imposing on a group of dedicated and constantly learning volunteers. To have Councillor Bauman reporting back to Council on CPAC matters is unfortunate. His ideas and motives quite clearly are in conflict with the rest of CPAC with only one possible exception.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


This past spring as usual we received the 2012 Annual Monitoring Report. Appendix D is referred to as "Trend Analysis". In reality it is no such thing. Ostensibly it shows contaminant trend directions (up/down/no trend) for NDMA and Chlorobenzene both on and off the Chemtura site and in different aquifers primarily the Municipal Upper (MU) and the Municipal Lower (ML).

There are numerous difficulties with their analysis. First off they use the Mann Kendall test which on occasions gives bizarre interpretations. Most of us can look at a simple graph and determine if the line is rising versus falling. As the vertical axis is concentrations and the horizantal is time it's pretty straightforward. Secondly only looking at two parameters is ridiculous. There are most likely all kinds of nasty surprises in the Elmira Aquifers from a plethora of sources including Yara, Chemtura, Varnicolor and a myriad of past leaking gas stations. For example I doubt that Chromium vi has ever been tested for despite the long standing textile industry in Elmira.

Thirdly are the wells that Conestoga Rovers have chosen to examine for their "trend analysis". Many of these off-site wells are essentially outside the NDMA and Chlorobenzene plumes. Hence they have a multitude of non-detects. Basically there are enough MU and ML wells in Elmira to get a good understanding of the trends. Except of course they are not tested regularily by CRA. Therefore there isn't enough data to really see any longterm trends.

Finally with all these drawbacks what does CRA's testing show us? Essentially nothing. There are a few Decreases, a couple of Increases, a lot of No Trends and a lot of > 50% non-detects. There is absolutely based on Chemtura's/CRA's analyses no realistic optimism that they are indeed cleaning up the Elmira Aquifers on a timeline that would remotely achieve drinking water in all Elmira Aquifers by 2028 as ordered.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Ontario tilts against wind turbines as costs soar". According to this article written by Martin Regg Cohn someone has goofed big time. Apparently too many contracts for too much money wasn't such a hot idea. It turns out that wind blows generally not during peak demand times for electricity but during low demand times. Isn't that just dandy? The belief in Ontario to expand wind power generation without due diligence has caused poer bills to rise beyond what is politically acceptable. Hence while we still hope that coa; is soon to be gone apparently natural gas is still the go to power source. You can turn it off and on when required; easier, faster and cheaper than anything else. Like all good ideas maybe enough homework wasn't done sooner.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I and many others have been waiting patiently now for two months to find out what decision the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) are going to make regarding the proposed Hunder Pit between Conestogo and Winterbourne. I posted two articles on October 9/13 giving my summation of the hearing as well as my summation of the entire process. While I was positively impressed with the case made by the Conestoga Winterbourne Residents Association (CWRA), Woolwich Township and the two participants (Della Stroobacher & Bob Weber) I can not say the same for the overall OMB process. I must also add that the proponent, his lawyers, witnesses and various experts all did their job professionally and clearly.

I do not know if two months is a usual time frame for these decisions or not. I do know how much testimony and evidence was presented and while significant it was far from overwhelming. Whichever way the decision is going it is time. People need to get on with their lives and they need to know under what circumstances. There is an opportunity through this hearing to add a couple of new conditions to a go ahead decision. Whether that is a sticking point while the Chair gets legal advice or not I do not know.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Here are a couple of further thoughts or ideas relating to the now biannual Biomonitoring Study. This study occurs in the late spring/early summer and involves clams and leeches bioaccumulating toxins from the water and sediments of Canagagigue Creek for only a three week period. After the three weeks the clams are removed and their tissues tested for the presence of DDT, Dioxins/Furans. The leeches are tested for chlorophenols only in their tissues. There are at least two problems that I see with this methodology and that is the short time span of only three weeks and the other is the time of year. I am beginning to see a pattern with both the downstream testing of soils and sediments for DDT and Dioxins as well as with this biomonitoring study of clams done in late spring. In other words if there is a spring scouring of sediments during high flow season (March/April) then most likely DDT and Dioxin/Furan presence is temporarily reduced. The fact that these toxins are most likely being moved downstream to be enjoyed by wildlife and humans on an annual basis is another issue that needs to be addressed.

As was mentioned in last Thursday's posting here; these toxins continue to leave the Chemtura site. It is recognized that they are leaving in reduced quantities from the past but that only is evidence that source removal is the way to go in addressing these issues versus decades more of questionable hydraulic containment. Chemtura and consultants have never been particularily forthcoming on the transport mechanisms of DDT and Dioxins. They have long argued that they can not flow in groundwater. The evidence does not fully support their position. CPAC need an honest, unbiased peer review around this report and numerous issues arising from it. As long as the Ontario M.O.E., Chemtura, Region of Waterloo and Woolwich Council think otherwise then it is clear that none of them are interested in the truth. They are still interested in short term politics versus the long term health of the environment and all living things in it.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Gail Martin, editor of the Elmira Independent, wrote this Editorial last Thursday namely "Clarity needed". The previous week we the public as well as CPAC and SWAT learned that there are no written specifics surrounding Chemtura Canada's 2028 deadline for restoring Elmira's groundwater. We learned that there is absolutely no mention of whether the Bedrock Aquifer is considered part of the Elmira Aquifers and thus included in the remediation process. That the Bedrock Aquifer is highly contaminated with NDMA is undisputed. What appears disputed is whether it will be addressed in a timely fashion.

Secondly Gail Martin has rightly pointed out that Chemtura's attempts to do pilot testing of ISCO or In Situ Chemical Oxidation have to date been unsucessful. ISCO is a type of source removal of contaminants via chemically breaking them down. What Gail only briefly touched on was the plan, now a year old, to triple the pumping rates of off-site wells allegedly in order to speed up the cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers. Again to date no progress has been presented. There are major issues and studies required and while the consultants to Chemtura, Conestoga Rovers, may be doing them, that is unacceptable. When it comes to tripling the volume of mostly remediated groundwater to the Canagagigue Creek; an independent study needs to be done. Mostly remediated groundwater in moderate quantities is a far cry from even better cleaned groundwater at three times the volume. Simply exporting the contamination from Elmira's Aquifers down the Canagagigue Creek to be shared with Kitchener-Waterloo is not the solution.

Friday, December 6, 2013


This week's edition of the Elmira Independent has two articles as well as an Editorial by Gail Martin all dealing with last week's Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC). The titles are "No cleanup target defined for Chemtura" on pg.1, "Chemtura advised to take lessons from Alberta industry" pg.3 and the Editorial on pg.4 titled "Clarity needed".

The no cleanup target refers to the lack of specicivity around how many aquifers need to be at drinking water standards by 2028. Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach and Graham Chevreau raised the issue concerning the Bedrock Aquifer in Elmira. Yours truly had read NDMA concentrations greater than 5,000 parts per trillion in this aquifer. With a drinking water standard of only 9 ppt, one can see the huge problems ahead. Conestoga Rovers gave CPAC the vague response that they were currently focusing on the Municipal Aquifers and that was adequate to address the deeper Bedrock aquifer. CPAC made it clear that the targets for 2028 needed to be clearly spelled out now as ignoring the Bedrock Aquifer issue until then was a grave error.

Regarding the pg. 3 article Pat McLean pointed out that Chemtura had broken promises that they had given in order to receive their last verification under *Responsible Care. These promises included focus groups, community newsletters and an updated, ongoing website. The irony here is that it was Pat McLean herself who handed Chemtura their last verification against the wishes of CPAC and their representative Dr. Dan Holt. The locals did not believe Chemtura remotely deserved this verification but with representatives from Scarborough and Guelph combined with Pat McLean's vote they got it. Her hypocrisy and ignorance of the facts is stunning as is her support for this company. By the way the last broken promise of Chemtura's has to do with fenceline monitoring of their air emissions. This is a pet project of Pat's and as long as she and her colleague keep giving concessions and kudos to Chemtura they will keep accepting them. Afterall the only price they have to pay is broken promises.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


This study used to be annual and now it's only every two years. It's been going since the mid 90's and the parameters being examined for biological uptake are chlorophenols (leeches), DDT and Dioxins into clams. We at CPAC and SWAT received this study probably back in September and as there have been really only two improvements namely in 1997 (upper aquifer containment) and 2006 (excavation of island and creekbank); it's difficult to jump into this report. Nevertheless I am refreshing my memory as well as seeing a few anomolies in this year's report to date.

As expected the big drop in chlorophenols in leeches occurred after the south-west corner of the Uniroyal/Chemtura site was hydraulically contained in 1997. Chlorophenols flow readily in groundwater and were being discharged via groundwater from the south-west ponds namely RPW 5,6,7, & 8. The M2 area a former Town of Elmira dump also used by Uniroyal was also a source. Similarily DDT and Dioxins had preferentially bonded with soils and sediments in the south-west area including a small island in the Canagagigue Creek. This excavation and removal of soils and sediments also has greatly reduced the uptake of them by clams put in the creek in cages every second summer.

Here is where it gets interesting. Chlorophenols, DDT and Dioxins and Furans are still being discharged into the creek from Chemtura and being absorbed via clams, leeches and probably many other organisms moving up the food chain. Also of interest is the relatively higher quantities being found at Station 17 downstream past the Chemtura property line. This data combined with the recently found high concentrations of DDT further downstream in the Canagagigue sediments may actually force the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.) into action. Their long held excuse for not ordering more on-site source removal has been that everything is contained. This is absolute rubbish and the M.O.E. know it. That site, while improovements have been made, nevertheless has never stopped discharging its' toxic contaminants into the natural environment including air, groundwater and surface water.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


While sewage treatment is hardly the sexiest of environmental topics nevertheless it is of huge significance. The fact that the City of Waterloo plant is four months behind schedule; in the long run should not be significant. Far more significant are updates and improvements that aren't even scheduled yet. If and when the time comes that all sewage in Waterloo Region receives tertiary treatment prior to discharge to surface bodies of water, that will be a day worth bragging about.

Right now there are gaps in treatment capacity and quality. Emergency backups for power and holding capacities still require attention. Every single year there are spills and bypasses from our wastewater facilities into receiving bodies of water. That the Ontario Ministry of the Environment authorizes these bypasses during heavy rain and or other treatment plant emergencies does not justify them. More money should be funnelled towards the necessity of keeping our Heritage River, the Grand, clean for the future . This may delay or even end various "legacy" projects that our politicians want for their self aggrandizement, but so be it. A prime example is the LRT. Put that money instead into infastructure and sewage treatment. Future generations will thank us. Today's Waterloo Region Record story is titled "Waste water plant delays costing another $1.2 million".

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


There was an interesting article in the Waterloo Region Record last October 31/13 titled "Making wise energy investments for Ontario". This article was written by Tim Weis and Jeff Harti of the Pembina Institute. While they applaud Ontario's decision not to build more nuclear reactors they criticize the plan to spend billions refurbishing old ones. They claim that nuclear refurbishment is extraordinarily time consuming and expensive. Recent headlines do indicate that all Ontario residents are paying through the nose for their electricity.

Part of the calculations involve forecasts of future demand. Apparently the "new economy" ie. less heavy manufacturing and more high tech has resulted in a huge drop in electricity demand by what manufacturing we have left in Ontario. These two gentlemen are suggesting further going down the road of energy conservation as well as renewable energy alternatives.

Monday, December 2, 2013


First huge point. Pat Mclean appeared as a Delegation to CPAC and she was treated with courtesy and respect which in my opinion she does not deserve. She has shown a politician's willingness to throw colleagues and serious environmentalists under the bus when it suits her purposes. She did this only partly by ganging up with the former CPAC on Dan and Vivienne at a meeting at the public library to which they had been invited a couple of summers back.

The CPAC Terms of Reference used to be totally ridiculous. Now they are merely hypocritical as our Woolwich Council pick and choose which items to either enforce or not. The most asinine terms deal with membership. The document states that best efforts will be made to invite and include environmental groups in Elmira/Woolwich. There are two groups which have led the aquifer cleanup charge since 1989 and they were specifically in mind when that term was included back in 2000. APTE were specifically excluded by this Council in the spring of 2011 as Mayor Todd Cowan had advice from a number of experts (myself included) that their leadership had strayed dramatically and politically from the path necessary to rehabilitate the Elmira Aquifers. The Elmira Environmental Hazards Team (EH-Team) via myself were put on CPAC in the spring of 2011 only to be removed shortly thereafter as the Mayor and Councillor Julie Ann Herteis sufferred hissy fits. This past summer Mayor Cowan reversed himself and along with Alan Poffenroth voted to put me back on CPAC, at CPAC's express wish . Councillors Bryant, Herteis and Bowman voted no. Hypocrisy, stupidity, pettiness and politics go hand in hand with this Council. The politics refers to the apparent voting block between Mark Bauman and Bonnie Bryant. This may be to counteract the Julie Ann Herteis/ Todd Cowan voting block.

Steve Quigley of Conestoga Rovers, longtime consultants to Uniroyal/Chemtura reminded me why I stay on top of things technically. I have found over two decades of dealing with polluters, the Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.), consultants and other assorted experts that when pressed they often automatically resort to bullshit. They attempt to intellectually intimidate honest and involved citizens. Long ago I decided to even up the playing field by learning and memorizing everything I could in order to meet them head on in discussions, debates and arguments. It wasn't nearly as hard as I expected because they don't have either the truth or facts on their side. This time Steve Quigley tried to use the old excuse that there was a thick aquitard below the south-east corner of Chemtura's site which prevented deep penetration by DDT, Dioxins, solvents and other nasty toxins. I called Steve on this by pointing out that CRA's own reports showed otherwise. There is little or no aquitard between the Upper Aquifer (UA) and the Municipal Aquifer (MU) in the south-east corner. Steve was left sputtering which has happened often enough that he should no better by now than to be resorting to inaccurate technical arguments to back his client's position.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


A study by a group of Italian researchers has been published in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences regarding neonicotonoid pesticides. The Sierra Club Canada has released an on-line Media Release describing this study. Their hope is that the latest science will convince Canada's Pest Management Regulatory agency (PMRA) to recommend a ban on these pesticides. There is a molecular mechanism triggered by these pesticides which affects the immune system of bees making them susceptible to viral pathogens. The bee populations have been plummeting for several years in conjunction with the introduction and expansion of neonicotonids on crops including corn. Once again we have a case in which the negative consequences of a new tool to fight crop pests were not fully understood prior to mass distribution of the pesticide. Human beings appear to be constant optimists when it comes to applying new discoveries, with financial benefits, prematurely.

Friday, November 29, 2013


As usual the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) was held in the Woolwich Council Chambers at 6 pm.. There were two formal Delegations last evening; one from myself and one from Pat Mclean. Hers dealt with a comparison of the citizen advisory panel she had seen in Alberta with what we have in Elmira. She challenged Chemtura to recommit on their ten year cleanup plan. Further she asked whether Chemtura had ever used neonicotonoids on their seed treatments. After a followup question from myself Jeff Merriman said they aren't currently and he doesn't think they have in the past. Hmm. She also challenged the Ontario M.O.E. to instigate real time air emissions for Elmira residents.

My Delegation was in regards to the latest off-site groundwater testing done last summer. While I focused on NDMA and how many times greater than drinking water standards the concentrations still were; I also read some chlorobenzene concentrations. Clearly the length and breadth of the three Elmira aquifers are totally and completely undrinkable for the forseeable future or more.

Ron Campbell the Chair of SWAT (soil, water, air & technical) gave an interesting and informative presentation which he described as Toxicology 101. The difference between bioaccumulative and biomagnification was described. We were advised that toxins such as DDT moving up the food chain can biomagnify uo to 200,000 times.

Sebastian Seibel Achenbach and Vivian Delaney made comments and asked Ron questions such as how toxicologists come up with their numbers and described changes in understanding as to how Agent Orange (dioxin) can adversely affect human DNA. Sebastian also got the GP1 & 2 ball rolling again asking about the change in capping plans and whether or not the removed soil was tested for contaminants or not. Graham Chevreau suggested that the TCLP analysis was not very helpful or comprehensive. One of the best comments was Ron's asking again why the multi million dollar project was done at all if there was no leakage or off-site impacts.

Richard Clausi raised the recent news about the Love Canal problems. I found Steve Quigley's (CRA) response to be rather defensive as he suggested that it was all about a nearby sewer cleaning project and perhaps some inappropriate sewer bedding materials ie. toxic soil.

There was a long discussion regarding discharge criteria into the Canagagigue Creek when the off-site pumping is allegedly tripled. While the M.O.E. will have some control through an amended Certificate of Approval (now known as an ECA); they flatly refused to do an independent study of the creek's assimilative capacity. They will simply respond to Chemtura's consultants (CRA) reports and therein lies the huge problem.

Overall Mark Bauman was a pleasant surprise with his questions and comments. Of particular interest to me (and CPAC) is his apparent strong common sense understanding of the folly of leaving Chemtura's solid and liquid wastes buried on their site for future generations to have to deal with. I can forgive a number of sins if Mark sticks to his guns on that matter.

Rich Clausi is also helping the Chair Dan Holt with attempting to get local high school students involved environmentally, including attending CPAC meetings. Chair Dan also suggested a speakers' bureau made up of CPAC members to attend and speak to local community organizations.

As Chemtura/CRA are having such difficulty in getting suitable ISCO (chemical oxidation) test sites I seriously suggested they try behind the old Varnicolor site near CH70 where there are extremely high Chlorobenzene concentrations especially in the Municipal Lower (ML) Aquifer.

The interesting turn suggested in the title relates to a matter Sebastian raised and then morphed into a discussion around the Bedrock Aquifer. Steve Quigley (CRA) had attempted to abort the discussion by suggesting that the Bedrock Aquifer wasn't currently important. Well Graham Chevreau initially, followed by yours truly, Ron Campbell, Mark and others all jumped in. As Graham had suggested this matter needed to be formally set out sooner than later otherwise in 2028 we could have the scenario of reasonably clean water in one or two aquifers while the Bedrock was still capable of contaminating the others. From here the discussion also touched on the possibility/probability of Chemtura someday packing it in and taking their marbles stateside. I suggested that that might actually increase the possibility of the M.O.E. doing source removal once Chemtura abandoned their site.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


On behalf of their client, Chemtura Canada, CRA have responded to an inquiry from Woolwich Township concerning underground fuel tanks being installed next to the former municipal wells (E7/E9). Well E7 is currently a significant part of Chemtura's off-site "cleanup" strategy. This well pumps at 26.5 litres per second around the clock and the contaminated water is treated with Ultraviolet light in order to break down the NDMA. CRA admit that there is no other treatment at this site hence any contamination in Elmira's south end other than NDMA, goes untreated into a municipal drain which then flows into Landfill Creek and the Canagagigue Creek.

CRA's claim of nothing other than NDMA is most likely wishful thinking. Just because they don't routinely test for a full suite of Chemtura's and others' contaminants doesn't mean they aren't there. Also CRA's claim that there is lots of clay at the south end protecting well E7 runs a little thin. We all heard those claims twenty and thirty years ago and guess what happened to both the north and south wellfields. Finally we have learned the hard way that clay aquitards are not continuous. There are windows through the aquitards and in fact up until only a few years ago we were advised that the Bedrock beneath E7 had a substantial Lower Aquitard (LAT). Turns out once again they were wrong as there is direct access and connection from the Municipal Upper Aquifer all the way down to the Bedrock aquifer. It is quite possible that in a few more years they will find an existing window through the Upper Aquitard (UAT). If there is one thing I've learned here in Elmira over the last twenty-five years it is that Chemtura Canada's "experts" are wrong just as often as they are right.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


That is an outstanding accomplishment Canada. Thank you our federal Conservative governing party for this distiction. Both a European Report and an American one single out Canada for their dismal performance including 2020 targeted greenhouse emissions. This article was in the November 19/13 Waterloo Region Record and the title was "Climate policy in Canada worst in developed world: report". While Canada's overall emissions may be small by global standards nevertheless we are a developed country who have made promises environmentally and repeatedly broken them. This affects us all via abnormal weather, storms, droughts and floods as well as the quality of the air we are breathing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record has reported on a new study done by a McGill University professor. The title of the story is "First Nations exposed to pollutants in "chemical valley". The area near Sarnia has long been known as problematic environmentally. Whether from threats to groundwater via a local hazardous waste landfill or the air discharges of petrochemical companies the whole area has been long known as 'chemical valley". There are about 60 industrial facilities within a 25 km radius of the First Nations reserve. Also "About 40 per cent of Canada's chemical industry is clustered in the area...".

The ratio of infant girls to boys is approximately two - to - one. This recent study is suggesting there may be a link as the mothers have been exposed to hormone blocking pollutants. As has been our historical experience; it seems that health problems arise first and only then does science struggle to catch up. This is a primary reason for the so called "precautionary principle" which is so often ignored. Industry clamor for science based decision making knowing full well that the science is always decades behind the health symptoms.

Here in Elmira; Union St. on the west side of town used to be called the "mini chemical valley". Things have drastically improved especially air discharges at Chemtura and at Sulco. There are still occasionally odours courtesy of the egg processing plant as well as the pet food manufacturer.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Last Friday's Waterloo Region Record carried this story "Ontario to axe coal-powered electricity". A couple of years back I read an article that essentially claimed that air pollution in Ontario was directly linked to something like 6,000 deaths annually in the province. I was shocked that the causal relationship was so strong and admitted to. Nevertheless it appears as if the minority Liberals provincially haven't got everything wrong. The proposed "Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act" is supposed to end the use of coal in power generating stations by the end of 2014. This announcement has been met with approval and support from the likes of Al Gore as well as Environmental Defence . Credit is due when this is a fait accompli.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record gives us this story "Harper commits up to $95 million for Lac-Megantic". A runaway tanker train exploded in downtown Lac-Megantic last summer killing 47 people and doing allegedly $190 million dollars damage. My suspicion is that the $190 million will be to restore damaged infrastructure, buildings and to do a superficial cleanup of the crude oil. The crude oil that got into the lake and river I expect will be causing damage for decades. Similar to the toxic "blob" found on the bottom of the St. Clair River in Ontario, crude oil is a DNAPL chemical. It sinks to the bottom and even there depending on the river bottom , it could continue sinking through the pore spaces.

The other question I have is what about the railroad company and their insurance. Canadian citizens can't drive cars without liability insurance so what gives here? Is the federal government telling us that the insurance companies won't pay up or that railroad operators don't require liability insurance? Something is very wrong here.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Off-site pumping remains strong although W4 was just shy of its' greatly reduced target rate of 3.5 litres per second (l/s). It was at 11.4 l/s for many years. Both Well W5B and W3 are being pumped well in excess of their target rates hence the good overall pumping rate. It is interesting of course to note how the huge pumping reduction at W4 (behind Varnicolor & near the water tower) has permitted the significant increase at W5B east of Varnicolor and Union St.

Table A.1 shows the groundwater treatment system analytical results. Of particular interest to CPAC members should be the far right which shows the Effluent Limits and Objectives. While the Objectives are quite low and hence reasonable the Effluent Limits are far too high. This permits unacceptable discharges to the Canagagigue Creek and indeed these must be dramatically lowered before any consideration of tripling the volume of semi treated groundwater is allowed.

Appendix D is quite amazing as it gives considerable data regarding both on and off-site groundwater results. These results are from last summer and as they are part of the Routine Groundwater Monitoring Program I suspect these are the same results which will come out in next spring's Annual Monitoring Report for 2013.

Off-site monitoring has a few surprises such as Chlorobenzene at 210 ppb at CH38A. Then CH44D on the Yara site has Chlorobenzene at 1800 ppb. This is the area where Chemtura no longer wish to use chemical oxidation ie. source removal. CH70D on the old Varnicolor property line has Chlorobenzene at 1100 ppb. but that's O.K. because Jaimie Connolly of the M.O.E. says it's because their used to be acetone in RPW7 on the Chemtura site a long time ago. If this makes no sense to you, join the club. Most of the off-site groundwater is marked as clear with no odour but there are exceptions. Right down by the former south wellfield has some high conductivity readings as well as discoloured odourous water. This is very strange as we have never been advised of nearby sources. Well OW61 west of Chemtura has a Conductivity of over 4000 which is almost unheard of. Most of the Chemtura hot spots are closer to 2000 and off-site many places are only 500-700.

On-Site groundwater readings are horrible as expected. Chemtura/CRA have long admitted that on-site hydraulic containment will never clean up their site only theoreticlly contain it. Funny thing though we were supposed to believe that off-site hydraulic containment would do the job. Granted the on-site has extensive subsurface waste sources but off-site certainly isn't without some of their own. There are lots of petroleum hydrocarbons found on site including at 72,000 ppb. I believe this is contrary to what we have been told by Chemtura's environmental engineer, at CPAC meetings. Acetone generally is not tested for but when it is, it is at method detection limits (MDL) of between 5,000-100,000 ppb. This pretty much guarantees non-detects (ND). On-site groundwater colours vary from cloudy to light brown or light/dark grey with odours from none to very strong. Chlorobenzene is found just north of GP1 & 2 at 73,000 ppb. in OW42. There are extensive LNAPL and DNAPL chemicals found at high concentrations indicating either residual or free phase NAPLS or both are present.

This data and sometimes particular absences of data tell the tale as to where the "skeletons" are buried. It's always done this if you are able to locate all the wells that are tested. I mostly can do this from memory although I still often "cheat" and look them up. The rest of the citizens basically are out of luck because contrary to past promises there is no legend or key with this data to assist in finding well locations. This is quite unacceptable.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Toxic sites a huge health risk: report". I would dispute this list if it were based upon different factors. For example if it were based upon the sheer toxicity of the substances involved I suspect both the Love Canal in Niagara Falls New York and Chemtura Canada in Elmira, Ontario would make the list. Instead the authors have factored in the toxins themselves (all bad), life expectancy of locals and the number of people affected. Based on those criteria Russia has two of the top ten spots, Africa has three and Indonesia two. The remaining three are in the Ukraine, Argentina and Bangladesh.

The top ten list includes dump sites as well as river basins with massive industrial drainage of chemical wastes. Heavy metals abound such as copper, chromium and lead. Acid wastes from 200 plus tanneries are discharged into the Buriganga River in Bangladesh. These top ten not surprisingly are mostly in third world countries. Environmental laws and controls are essentially non existent and if present unenforced.

Here in North America we have the very same industries. They too initially discharged their toxic wastes into the ground and into nearby rivers. Many of these toxic sites still exist essentially unremediated. The difference is geography and zoning. Fewer people here live in or around these toxic sites. Also here we tend to contain these sites albeit not clean them up properly. The containment may be of the hydraulic containment style that inhibits contaminated groundwater flows or it may be greater insistence on on-site treatment of liquid industrial wastes prior to discharge to surface waters. As recently as the late 90's citizens in Elmira, Ontario were being woken in the middle of the night with sickening air discharges from Chemtura. Those have abated due to the public outcry that improved treatment and practices on Chemtura's site.

It's all about power and politics. Where local people have none, pollution thrives. Where power and wealth are concentrated and democracy merely tokenism, pollution thrives. That is the message I am receiving from this report.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "More ash trees to be cut down or injected". 700 trees were cut down in Kitchener this year with another 700 scheduled for removal next year. At the same time 800 were injected with a chemical to fight off the emerald ash borer this year with another 600 more scheduled for the chemical injection next year. The estimate is that by 2017 over 5000 ash trees in Kitchener alone will have died from this invasive species. As the pest was first discovered in Kitchener in 2010, its' spread throughout the city has been dramatic. To date it seems clear that normal winter weather hasn't discouraged the ash borer in Waterloo Region. How far north it will spread I do not know.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region record carried this story "Protesters march on Uptown Waterloo". The location of the protest was MP Peter Braid's constituency office. The environmental protest was against development of Alberta's oil sands as well as locally the plans by Enbridge regarding the Line 9 pipeline project. Enbridge are hoping to reverse the direction of this oil pipeline and to pump bitumen through it rather than the current light crude oil. The bitumen is heavier and more difficult to clean up in case of a spill or pipe rupture. The Line 9 pipe I believe is fourty years old and there may also be concerns that the bitumen is more corrosive than the lighter crude oils.

I suspect that the next generation are going to spend a lot more time than the last protesting environmental policies or the lack thereof. An awful lot of problems have been swept under the carpet as today's politicans are only concerned about the next election. Long term health effects have never been an in your face issue for those supposedly in charge. Despite health care costs for cancer treatments rocketing skywards, it's all about treatment versus prevention via source removal of the causes. These causes are the air we breath, the food we eat and the water we drink.

Monday, November 18, 2013


These meetings usually are to discuss the upcoming public evening Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) meetings. Being somewhat smaller in size it is easier for longer more wide ranging discussions to take place. Additions to the Draft Agenda are discussed as well as which CPAC member will lead on which topics. Today there was a wide ranging discussion on the recently completed inadequate remediation of GP1 & 2 on Chemtura's south-east corner. Of great interest to me was the absence of Councillor and CPAC member Mark Bauman. Mark had expressed great interest in this meeting and indeed had insisted that CPAC hold a special meeting at the end in regards to yours truly. Some months back I had inadvertently included an M.O.E. employee in a rude e-mail. This unfortunate incident I thought had been settled with both written and verbal apologies but apparently not. Nevertheless CPAC did their due diligence, conversed with all parties both privately and otherwise and have appropriately put the matter to rest. May it so remain as we the citizens of Woolwich Township continue in our efforts to restore Elmira's groundwater.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


The next Thursday evening public CPAC meeting is Thursday November 28, 2013 at 6pm. in the Woolwich Council Chambers. There will be at least a couple of interesting things on the Agenda including discussion of a Public Education Committee and discussion of the proposed new Terms of Reference for CPAC.

All the CPAC members recognized how ridiculous the old Terms of Reference were. Among other things were the way that votes were assigned. Essentially it was not one vote per member but instead a block of allegedly voting CPAC members were to get only one vote amongst them. It was undemocratic and assinine. Therefore CPAC unanimously rewrote the Terms of Reference and submitted them to Woolwich Council. Well between staff and council they've managed to delay and complicate the process for many, many months. To further complicate matters all the rewrites and revisions have not been dated. To further complicate matters these undated rewrites however have been allegedly done in different colours of ink to "assist" in seeing the changes. How helpful is that when your printer only prints in black?

Long story short Council needs to learn to back off. They have almost zero knowledge and less experience regarding the Chemtura/CPAC file. All they are doing is attempting to exert their authority from a position of ignorance. They have appointed each and every volunteer citizen on the committee yet they seem to need to micromanage everything. Keep it up Council and the time will eventually come when honest and honourable citizens will simply hand you the whole CPAC basket. Maybe that's what you want afterall?

Friday, November 15, 2013


Yesterday's Elmira Independent advises us of Council's reversal with this story "Council reverses decision on biogas project". This is a fairly unusual situation in that on October 29/13 Woolwich Council (Committee of the Whole) approved endorsing a Feed in Tarrif project for a commercial greenhouse on Kenning place which is just north of the currently under construction Woolwich Bio-En. Granted there was lots of community opposition to the original Bio-En proposals but those battles and discussions are over. This particular application is for a very small generator which will use methane gas produced by Woolwich Bio-En. The location also is not close to the Kissing Bridge trail which seems to be a bit of a red herring. Once again Councillors Bonnie Bryant and Mark Bauman teamed up to defeat this motion. With Councillor Poffenroth not in attendance the 2-2 tie meant that the Motion for Council endorsement was defeated.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Twenty-four years ago this month the south wellfield in Elmira was closed due to NDMA contamination, thousands of times above whatever drinking water standards were available at the time. Approximately two years later a citizens public advisory committee was formed ostensibly to assist and advise in the cleanup. The reality was that the Ministry of Environment's credibility was rightfully and appropriately in the dumpster. APT Environment were seriously and publicly questioning both the M.O.E. and Uniroyal's commitment and credibility. Ted Oldfield, Rich Clausi and myself were absolutely destroying the M.O.E.'s credibility via ongoing Varniclor Chemical revelations. There was talk of a public inquiry into allegations of corruption within the M.O.E. in regards to Varnicolor chemical. What the M.O.E., Uniroyal and most probably the municipal council of the day needed was a distraction.

The distraction was to be UPAC or the Uniroyal Public Advisory Committee. With APTE's public profile at the time it was seen as a force to be reckoned with. By 1994 that "force" was disappearing fast, the result of numerous concessions made to the M.O.E.. The reality was that APTE and the citizens were never given even the slightest authority or power regarding the Elmira cleanup. Indeed this is why the founder and spokesperson for APTE, Susan Rupert, was not in favour of APTE joining UPAC. She saw APTE's voice and influence being diluted by too many Uniroyal friends on the proposed committee. Susan Rupert was outvoted and outmanoeuvered by other APTE luminaries.

There have been occasional bright spots over the years at UPAC/CPAC. CPAC acted strongly and aggressively in regards to air emissions affecting Duke St. residents in the late 90's. CPAC embraced my research and unanimously requested on-site source removal of numerous buried pits and lagoons in July 2003. Strangely (at the time) while Uniroyal/Chemtura were willing to move on air issues and recently discovered DDT and Dioxins downstream; they would not budge on on-site, long known subsurface wastes. In hindsight this was due to their October 7, 1991 "sweetheart" deal with the M.O.E. which indicated that Uniroyal were indemnified from liability for known contamination as of that date. This of course included DNAPLS and other on-site contaminants. As the APTE leadership agreed and received a copy of the "sweetheart" deal they and Uniroyal knew that the July 2003 Request For Action was simply posturing. The rest of the APTE co-ordinaters and membership did not know.

So what is the point? We've recently had another bandaid "cleanup" at GP1 & 2. The "president" of APTE has expressed her dismay at the inadequacy of this cleanup. This was "new" contamination as far as the terms of the October 7, 1991 Settlement Agreement (sweetheart deal) was concerned and that was the only reason anything at all was done. For me the "why bother" question can be answered thusly. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment were negligent and incompetent in their protection of the Elmira community from long known chemical contamination. They made a deal whose primary purpose was not to protect the public nor to clean up the aquifers. It was to cover their own culpability and to kiss and makeup with the polluter, Uniroyal Chemical. Everything since has been mostly windowdressing and stalling. I do not believe the M.O.E. should get away with what they have done and that they should be accountable. I also do not want them to view Elmira as a sucessful coverup and continue to emulate their practices in other contaminated communities across Ontario.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


In the spring of 2012 CPAC passed their Resolution rejecting the current "cleanup" process for the Elmira Aquifers. shortly afterwards to my surprise Woolwich Township Council endorsed CPAC's Resolution. A couple of months later the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.) announced a new initiative to sample Canagagigue Creek sediments and soils for Dioxins and DDT, downstream of Chemtura (Uniroyal). They refused my request for a Work Plan in advance and indeed their sampling was guaranteed to make comparisons with the 1996/97 sampling almost impossible. They announced their initial results in November 2012 almost at the same time as Chemtura announced that they had decided to drastically upgrade their off-site cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers . Chemtura claimed they would triple the volumes of off-site pumping AND do source removal via chemical oxidation in two locations west of their site.

One year after that announcement we have no increased pumping and we've been advised by another CRA junk science report that the chemical oxidation won't work west of Chemtura's site. Hmm! Meanwhile more testing was done by the M.O.E. and again there are high results especially for DDT downstream of Chemtura in the Canagagiue. Keep in mind that these two rounds of tests while finding problems were not used to improve the removal of Dioxins and DDT from Chemtura's south-east corner (GP1 & 2) this summer.

Now the M.O.E. are dangling the carrot in front of CPAC for yet more testing of sediments and soils in the "Gig". This is supposed to be a more comprehensive set of testing. Interestingly the M.O.E. through assistant director George Karlos insisted again that CPAC formally request or at least agree to the M.O.E.'s testing. Talk about distraction and diversion. The off-site cleanup is stalled and the M.O.E. are waving a flag downstream to attract CPAC's attention. Once again rest assured that the M.O.E. won't produce a Work Plan in advance that would allow meaningful input from CPAC as to which locations, what depths, what chemicals and what season these samoples will be taken. Furthermore rest assured that whatever data is found downstream will absolutely not be used by the M.O.E. to force more on-site cleanup from Chemtura. Like it's counterpart reports; the latest M.O.E. report will be so amateurishly planned and written that they will be full of holes allowing Chemtura and their consultants CRA to stickhandle right around them.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


In the November 2/13 Woolwich Observer there is the following article "Region bracing for emerald ash borer, with most ash trees expected to go". While the Region are interviewed, so is Councillor Mark Bauman of Woolwich Township. Mark suggests "There are going to be thousands of ash trees in Woolwich Township that are going to die.". Further Mark states "From what I understand: it's coming, the ash trees are going to die, and we may as well get used to it. And unless you have a prized specimen tree in your front yard, the inoculation thing is just cost prohibitive.".

All this damage is due to an invasive species of beetle (emerald ash borer) that came in via wooden packing crates from China. It kind of puts a new twist on free trade doesn't it? Asian carp are being found in the Grand River courtesy of lake Erie and the United States . Not so lomg ago we had to deal with purple loostrife throughout the Grand River watershed. Let's also not forget zebra mussels, the round goby and on and on. Yep I'm confident that our political leaders know exactly what they are doing at all times. Aren't you?

Monday, November 11, 2013


Last Friday's Waterloo Region Record carried an Opinion piece by John Bennet, the executive director of Sierra Club Canada. The title was "Ban neonicotinoid pesticides as a precaution". Mr. Bennet's article referenced one published approximately a week earlier by Terry Daynard that was in favour of retaining these pesticides for use on corn and soy crops.

Mr. Bennet quotes numerous groups and studies which have scientifically implicated neonicotinoids as being detrimental to bees. These include Health Canada's pest management regulatory agency. Last year the Quebec government tested for and found neonicotinoid pesticides at detectable levels in 16 different rivers. This is astounding for a pesticide that has only been in use for a decade. Finally corn has grown sucessfully without this pesticide for generations and can continue to do so. Bees on the other hand are sufferring tremendous losses which will affect pollination of many crops. Is it again necessary to nearly wipe out a species as was done with DDT and birds of prey? Can we not embrace the precautionary principle and act sooner rather than later?

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Both of our local papers in Woolwich Township carry stories on the recenrly released all party review of the Aggregate Resources Act. The Woolwich Observer's story is titled "Changes in store for gravel pit process following review of Aggregate Resources Act". The Elmira Independent's story is titled "Gravel pit report welcomed".

The review of the Act has been underway since March 2012 and included numerous public hearings. Changes suggested include better notice to neighbours of impending applications, faster rehabilitation of pits and a greater emphasis on recycling of old concrete and asphalt to reduce the need for new gravel being extracted. In the Observer article there were quotes from both the president of the federation of agriculture as well as from local MP Mike Harris.

In the Independent article, Tony Dowling of the Bridgekeepers (West Montrose) was quoted . While liking the report overall he noted the political reality of whether or not the Minister of Natural Resources will actually implement the proposed changes.

Most of these recommendations have merit but it is unfortunate they came to late for the Jigs Hollow Pit (Winterbourne) as well as the proposed Hunder Pit between Conestogo and Winterbourne. We are still awaiting the decision of the OMB in regards to the Hunder Pit application.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Yesterday's Elmira Independent has both a story and an Editorial in regards to installing more underground fuel tanks near the former south wellfield (E7/E9) along Arthur St., beside Voisin Motors. Our former Councils had no problem with both Voisin Motors being located there as well as the 24 hour nearby truck gas bar. Keep in mind the mess that Voisin had left behind for cleanup at their old location on Arthur St. and Church St..

The title of the Editorial is "A wise approach" and the title of the article is "Underground storage tanks pose concern". The key concern is that these two nearby wells are being used as pump and treat wells to assist in the cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers. It really makes no sense to continue burying gas and diesel tanks underground regardless of the so called technological advances available. Just because it's safer to kill an elephant with a grenade launcher than a rifle; does that make killing the elephant any better of an idea? An above ground tank that leaks will both be seen and smelled by anyone nearby and hopefully steps taken immediately. Solvent tanks at local industries are all stored above ground and vandalism and or vehicle impacts etc. are not an issue. If one is worried about vandals or even stray bullets during hunting season than a concrete block wall will do just fine .

Propane tanks are also stored above ground. Putting fuel tanks below ground may be as much about aesthetics as anything else. It's also about needing less space as you can pave above them for parking or roadway use. If we believe that our groundwater is the highest priority then it should be a no brainer to end underground fuel tanks.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


The public meeting was held last evening in the Dodie Hummel Room at the Woolwich Township Building. Future public meetings will most likely be held at the Woolwich memorial Arena on Snyder Ave.. There was a small Agenda with the usual housekeeping items such as dealing with the Minutes of the last meeting and scheduling the next one (January 7/14).

The CLC and public were given construction updates. They are a little behind schedule partly from a late start (permits) as well as due to all the rain through September, October and now into November. Nevertheless they are still hoping for a January completion date. Even after their startup there will probably be a six to nine month period before methane production is at full capacity.

Michael Purves-Smith presented a document he had done in collaboration with two others on the CLC. This document when cleaned up slightly will go to Woolwich Council as a request for matching funds that Woolwich Bio-En have on the table. The funds of course will be for any necessary peer reviews if there are for example odour problems down the road.

Some time after construction is completed there will be a tour for the CLC members. Somewhat to my surprise there will not be a Grand Opening per se.

As a long time participant in the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) I am pleasantly astounded at the cooperative and respectful atmosphere at these Woolwich Bio-En meetings. While obviously there was heated debate and citizen concerns prior to this business getting the go ahead, it appears as if all parties are determined to make the very best of having a Citizens Liason Committee. To date I have seen nothing but honest attempts to answer all questions and two way cooperation throughout. This committee could be an excellent example to CPAC and when I say that I am referring to the company representatives in particular.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Last Saturday's Woolwich Observer carried this story "Green energy process still a sore spot in Woolwich". The proposed project was on Kenning Place which is immediately north of and hence slightly further out of town than the Woolwich Bio-En location which is currently under construction. As I understand it from the article, the proponents want to install a 100 kilowatt generator which will run on methane gas produced by their neighbour, Woolwich Bio-En. At least some of this electricity generated will then be sold back into our hydro grid. To date there have been three other nearby applications to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) of which only the one with municipal (township) approval was accepted.

Woolwich Township have a point that this municipal approval is their only control over these projects although frankly maybe I'm missing something here but I see extremely little to no impact on Elmira citizens from these tiny projects. That being said there is a meeting of the Woolwich Bio-En Citizens Panel this evening in the Municipal building on Church St. at 7 pm.. Perhaps further clarification will be forthcoming at that time. By the way Council did approve the project by a 3-2 vote with Bonnie Bryant and Mark Bauman opposed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "New Love Canal lawsuits emerge". Named in the lawsuits is Occidental Petroleum Corp. who bought Hooker Chemical Co. the original source of 21,800 tons of industrial hazardous wastes. Further defendants include the city of Niagara Falls (U.S.A.) and " enlisted by Occidental to maintain and test the site today.". It is my understanding based upon Wikipedia and other sources that one of those contractors is none other than Conestoga Rovers (CRA), Chemtura's longtime lead consultant here in Elmira. Also keep in mind that CRA who were the architect of hydraulic containment at the Love Canal are also the architect of the seriously flawed and discredited hydraulic containment aka pump and treat here in Elmira, Ontario. The current Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC), based upon their understanding as well as the insights brought by Dr. Gail Krantzberg in a formal report to them; as well as by I would like to think yours truly and others; unanimously passed a Resolution in the spring of 2012 which categorically stated that the past and current hydraulic containment "cleanup" was inadequate. The Township of Woolwich also endorsed this CPAC Resolution unanimously. Without intentionally being inflammatory or defamatory; nevertheless this Resolution was a blunt repudiation of two decades of work by Uniroyal/Chemtura, Conestoga Rovers and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.). Further fellow travellors who had gone along with the pretend cleanup via hydraulic containment included past Woolwich Township Councils and the Region of Waterloo.

CPAC made it clear that the only way to eventually guarantee a restoration of the Elmira Aquifers to drinking water standards was by source removal of buried wastes on the Uniroyal/Chemtura site. These subsurface wastes included DNAPLS, LNAPLS, petroleum hydrocarbons, Dioxins, DDT and much more. While by far the bulk of buried wastes are on Chemtura's site there are also other off-site areas within the Elmira Aquifers that also require source removal. Two of them have at long last been tentatively identified/confirmed as CRA /Chemtura advised CPAC a year ago that they were investigating/ remediating them via In-Situ Chemical Oxidation. That plan is now on the back burner.

This is the lesson being brought home today in the Love Canal. Companies and governments love to find inexpensive magic bullet "cleanups". They don't exist. You get what you pay for and if CRA or any other consulting firm tell you that they can more cheaply make your toxic waste headaches disappear, then be very careful. If it's too good to be true then it probably isn't true.

Monday, November 4, 2013


For the very few people with a memory, the towns of Elmira and Walkerton are the ground zero for irresponsible behaviour regarding groundwater and drinking water. Last Saturday's Woolwich Observer carrys this story "Well concerns delay council decision on Elmira gas bar". It should seem apparent that many current Woolwich staff weren't on board when the water crisis hit Elmira. Similarily none of the council from that era are still with us although Councillor Mark Bauman did sit on Council and look the other way while the CPAC of the day did little or nothing.

The issue is storing diesel and gasoline underground. Allegedly there are greater spill and leakage engineered solutions than there were with older tanks. Are we supposed to wait another one or two decades to find out that those solutions are not 100% effective or do we avoid the inherent stupidity of storing highly toxic liquids underground altogether? To a certain extent past councils have already sold the farm with development including underground tanks having occurred over the years near the south wellfield (E7/E9). Again that would include our friend Mr. Bauman. This council can compound the problem and add more underground tanks or they can take a sober second look and reconsider. They have deferred their decision. Past councils decisions were shortsighted and ignorant. Let's see what this council does.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Last Thursday's Elmira Independent also carried this story "Remediation program complete on former waste pits". This story described extra contamination that was found in the south-east corner of Chemtura as they went about their "scraping" of surface contamination. Chemtura had advised CPAC that they were only going to remove the top .3 (1 foot) metre of contamination but this story indicates that they noticed several "stringers" of markedly darker soil one metre below ground surface. These "stringers" according to Gail Martin's story suggested "...threads of contamination that went deeper into the ground.". These "stringers" sound similar to terminology I've read describing NAPLS (non aqueous phase liquids) as "disconnected blobs or ganglia"). Therefore based on the decades these "stringers" have had to dissolve via infiltrating rainwater as well as by the very high water table in this area; the fact that they are still present decades later strongly indicates that they are very slow dissolving NAPLS whether LNAPL or DNAPL. One can almost bet money that Chemtura/CRA either didn't test them to discover their chemical makeup or in the alternative will simply advise CPAC that they didn't test them. While the removal of these "stringers" is a good thing the missed opportunity to determine if they are NAPLS and or if they contain DDT/Dioxins is unconscionable.

George Karlos, assistant director with the West Central Region of the M.O.E. also discussed further testing both upstream and downstream of Chemtura, in the Canagagigue Creek in regards to DDT. The even deadlier Dioxins seem to have fallen off the M.O.E.'s radar. While to date the sketchy and inadequate testing have found higher exceedances of DDT than Dioxins; nevertheless ignoring Dioxins is at everyone's peril. Is the plan to rediscover their importance after the next round of DDT testing and then go back yet another year later looking for them? Is it possible to drag this program out even longer and if so for what purpose? These questions and comments are what truly upset the M.O.E. and their partners in pollution, Chemtura; not my choice of words in so doing. People who focus on specific wording only are desperately trying to avoid the big picture ie. the message the author is sending regarding honesty, credibility, right and wrong.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Yesterday's Elmira Independent has two articles dealing with Chemtura Canada, Elmira, Ontario. The first story is titled
"Chemtura runs into treatment snags" and the second is "Remediation program complete on former waste pits".

Editor Gail Martin has written the story undoubtedly as it was publicly presented to CPAC a week ago Thursday by Chemtura. There is the problem. Chemtura attempted initially to only present their so called issues with ISCO (in-situ chemical oxidation) at a handpicked private get together of their friends and fellow travellors. They also sent out a thick "letter" of approximately 65 pages describing their "snag" but to only two CPAC members and zero SWAT team members. Nice attempt CRA/Chemtura at controlling the information.

I have to be blunt here. There are only a very few private citizens in Elmira capable of reading and fully understanding these documents. I am one of the very few and I am now retired and have time available. There are certainly two others on the current CPAC with the technical abilities and background but neither one of them are retired. In fact far from it. The bottom line is I'm the only one reading and fully comprehending CRA/Chemtura's technical reports who isn't bought and paid for. My interpretation of this ISCO snag is that CRA's report is grossly inadequate. It is conceivable that they have a real issue but based upon their history of junk science and factually ficticious technical gibberish, it's equally possible that they are simply reneging on their commitment of off-site source removal made a year ago.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record had an article titled "Fracking can rescue Canada's poorest provinces". This article was written by two gentlemen representing the Fraser Institute a "right-of-centre" think tank. Their thesis is that hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas has minimal risks and maximum gain for Canadians.

For supposedly smart people their arguments are weak. Advising us that "The liquid used in fracking is around 99 percent water and sand, with a smattering of common chemicals" is disingenuous. Yes solvents are "common". Up here in Elmira, Agent Orange is both common and highly toxic. Benzene is "common" and it is carcinogenic as are other "common" solvents. Secondly the 99 percent figure is interesting. Most drinking water standards for "common" solvents are not mentioned as percentiles or 1 part per hundred. They are measured in parts per billion (ppb) or parts per trillion (PPT). Fracking liquids can and do contaminate groundwater well above drinking standards.

We are also advised that risks of seismic activity ie. earthquakes is very low. Exactly how many excess earthquakes causing damage to other peoples' property does the drilling industry deem acceptable? The authors state that "Impacts from casing leakage, well blowouts, and spills of contaminated fluids are more prevalent but have generally been quickly mitigated.". Generally mitigated is an interesting concept. Again how many unmitigated areas of groundwater exist because of fracking? Who pays for the new water sources for affected residents? There have been huge groundwater problems in the U.S. including tap water that can actually be lit with a match.

Sorry but I'm not buying into this mad rush for development of energy resources FIRST and then think about mitigation after the fact. Perhaps for a change the powers that be in this country could stop putting the cart before the horse.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Well quoting Tracy Hipel in the Cambridge Times yesterday " ...the settlement is at least something and better than nothing". Tracy attended the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) hearing in Cambridge Council Chembers on Monday as did a reporter from the Cambridge Times. This is why the Times story is superior to the Waterloo Region Record who didn't have a reporter present on Monday. The title of the Times story is "Northstar officials, MOE reach $4.75M remediation deal". Just like the Record I couldn't seeme to get a link to their story.

Mr. Hipel has a photocatalytic oxidation system hooked up to his furnace as well as a shed in his backyard that operates a soil vapour extraction unit which removes and decontaminates toxic vapours from around and under his basement. These vapours including Trichloroethylene, 1,1,1 Trichloroethane and more are courtesy of both Northstar Aerospace and a neighbour (now GE) located on Bishop St. in Cambridge.

The Times also advises us that the $5 million dollar settlement to the residents was not paid when it was due last fall because of Northstar's bankruptcy claim.

In regards to the cleanup costs the Ontario Ministry of the Environment did unsucessfully pursue Northstar through the courts to have them forced to pay for ongoing cleanup and remediation. When that failed the M.O.E. issued a Control Order on Northstar's Directors which they appealed to the ERT .

Quite frankly while I am still appalled at how horrible and extensive the contamination was before it was reported to the M.O.E. back in 2004 or 2005 I am surprisingly feeling at least a little respect for the M.O.E. for their pursuit of Northstar through the courts and the ERT. Yes the M.O.E. are supposed to inspect these facilities and bring them in line BEFORE either environmental and human health disasters strike. In this they failed abjectly. As far as the remediation afterwards the M.O.E. pushed while both municipal and regional politicians ran interference for the company via their usual public relations nonsense about minimal to no permanent environmental and human health damages. That attitude and behaviour was an insult to the environment and the Grand River due to toxic solvents discharged into them by Northstar and to the families of those who passed away prematurely due to the air they breathed in their homes being "enriched" with TCE, TCA, possibly chromium and more.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Settlement reached on Northstar Aerospace environmental cleanup". There was a meeting yesterday morning in Cambridge Council Chambers to continue the appeal of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment's Control Order demanding the Directors' assume financial liability. Thay all had appealed mostly on the basis that they weren't in direct charge of the affairs of the company. This had seemed a little strange to me as several of them held senior management positions, were Directors on the Board and held stock in the company. Hence the M.O.E. went after them for money required to continue the remediation both on site, off-site and to maintain the vapour extraction systems in some homes. According to the Record the Settlement is for $4.75 million and the Directors will jointly pay that to continue the ongoing remediation. In a statement the Ministry claimed "This is the first time the ministry has held corporate directors of a publicly-traded company personally responsible for an environmental claeanuo after a company has gone bankrupt". If that is indeed so then the M.O.E. have been letting Directors go for a very long time. Over twenty years ago they took a half hearted run at the Directors of Varnicolor Chemical in Elmira but eventually let them off the hook.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Off-site pumping wells W3 and W5B are pumping far in excess of their target rates. This makes up for the now greatly reduced pumping rate at W4 as they are allegedly pumping the Municipal Lower only and not the Municipal Upper Aquifer. Meanwhile although I pointed out to Jeff Merriman (Chemtura) at the September CPAC meeting that CRA had not adjusted the target rate for W4 on Figure A.3 in the August Progress Report; lo and behold they still haven't corrected it in the September Progress Report.

Table A.5 purports to be a "broad scan analysis" of contaminants in off-site wells W3, W4, W5A & B. In reality it is the defined broad scan analysis as per a specific Certificate of Approval. These are not one and the same and there are dozens to hundreds of other chemicals still not being tested for. Rest assurred that any of these chemicals not properly treated in the treatment system are being dumped along with the treated effluent, into the Canagagigue. Of course they aren't being tested for there as well hence it's as if they never existed as far as Chemtura and the M.O.E. are concerned.

As per Table B.1 Lindane is still being discharged from the Chemtura site into the Canagagigue via the MISA 0400 pipe.

Table C.1 indicates that NDEA or n-nitrosodiethylamine (a Chemtura contaminant) was detected in the Canagagigue Creek last month.

Table E.1 indicates the varying thicknesses of Non Aqueous Phase Liquids (NAPL) below Building # 15 on site. This would primarily be Toluene and despite claims to the contrary I don't believe that Chemtura/CRA could not remove it from the natural environment; for a price.

Finaly Figure D.3 indicates the amount of groundwater elevation difference between monitoing points along the Canagagigue Creek. Observation wells UOW 510 and UOW 540 are .1 metre or less below the surface water level of the Canagagigue Creek. Again despite assurances to the contrary I am highly skeptical that this tiny differential guarantees hydraulic containment in this area of the Upper Aquifer.

And the pretend cleanup continues.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


The Region of Waterloo's "designated deniers" struck out apparently regarding the spill of nearly one million litres of raw human sewage into Colonial Creek and then into the Grand River. Last Thursday's Waterloo Region Record has this title on their most recent story "Sewage station upgrades moved ahead" and the sub-title is "After massive spill, Waterloo council votes for early start on $7.6M project to add safeguards at station".

This is what bothers me. Councils can and do vote for massive money expenditures on LRT among other things while deferring urgent infrastructure expenditures. We are not using the best available technolgies to safeguard our environmemnt when Councils defer their implementation because of less urgent expenditures. Waterloo has now seen the light. How soon will they and other municipal councils forget this lesson?

Friday, October 25, 2013


Firstly last evening was the first CPAC meeting I've missed in years. It was my 64th birthday and my children were home including my daughter from British Columbia. Therefore this posting is later than usual as I've spoken at length to two CPAC members to get their impressions and input from last evening's meeting.

Ron Campbell while remaining as a SWAT (soil, water, air & technical)team member has resigned as Chair of the sub-committee. He is being replaced as Chair by Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach. There is also a new member joining SWAT and I'll let the readers know his name after I've confirmed that he's been formally advised and accepted.

There was extensive discussion in regards to CRA/Chemtura apparently deciding that for technical reasons they cannot go ahead with source removal (ie. In-Situ Chemical Oxidation) at two off-site areas west of the Chemtuura site. CRA etc. are adamant that their rationale is sufficient whereas yours truly having read their formal letter prior to last evening find it to be typical CRA psuedo science.

The Ontario M.O.E. had been asked to check their files in regards to a technical investigation undertaken in the mid 80's dealing with contamination in the Howard St. storm drains of Elmira. Unsurprisingly they, just like Woolwich Township, claim that they have no information on this matter. This issue has been raised repeatedly over the years and essentially ignored or procrastinated by various authorities. The investigation has been documented in a few groundwater reports dealing with contaminated areas in Elmira and all the references have gone to Woolwich Township and others years ago.

Jaimie Connolly was not present last evening to answer questions about acetone allegedly solubolizing chlorobenzene. Similarily there was a question in regards to sand and gravel not absorbing dioxins or DDT. Steve Martindale (M.O.E.) was unable to give firm answers as he readily admits that he is not the expert. Similar to keeping the local abatement office away from the meetings in order to avoid questions dealing with the old Varnicolor Chemical; this is a great strategy by the M.O.E. to avoid answering CPAC's questions.

Further downstream testing in the Canagagigue by the M.O.E. will occur probably next spring. It is not clear to me if this time the M.O.E. will present a Draft Work Plan ahead of time for CPAC's comments or whether they will just bull ahead and screw it up all on their own.

After the public CPAC meeting they went into an in camera meeting to discuss a non environmental matter (personnel) being raised by George Karlos of the Ministry of the Environment. It is not totally clear to me how "personnel" is defined as the committee and its' sub-committee are filled with volunteers. Nevertheless George had some things he wanted to get off his chest privately, unrelated to the Chemtura cleanup etc.and CPAC who have bent over backwards to accomodate all parties and stakeholders agreed to listen to his concerns.