Tuesday, April 30, 2013


It is my opinion that the main reason the Woolwich Observer will not attend CPAC meetings is because they fully understand that CPAC was set up not to be an independent citizens committee overseeing the cleanup of Elmira's drinking water aquifers. The Observer perhaps do not wish to give credibility to a volunteer committee of council, without resources, who are and always have been under the direct control of the council of the day. The Observer understands that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the other signatories to a number of private settltments want their cake and eat it too. The framework was set essentially in stone twenty-two years ago with private agreements between Uniroyal, the M.O.E. and the Region of Waterloo. Everything since has simply been Uniroyal/Chemtura and their consultants putting citizens through their paces and running in circles. Some of the citizens on UPAC/CPAC have known this and many including myself did not know for years.

In regards to having their cake and eating it; Chemtura and the M.O.E. want to follow through on their pump and treat plans with Chemtura/Uniroyal having zero liability for "known" contamination while at the same time having the support of the CPAC of the day. This they have accomplished in the past with their professional consultants carefully bafflegabbing any difficult facts and issues which arise. They have also accomplished this with their support of and acknowledgement of particular stakeholders versus others.

At the current time Chemtura and the M.O.E.'s credibility are at all time lows. The new Council two years ago plus decided to clean house at CPAC. Mayor Cowan already had received information from professionals in the environmental field that the Elmira "cleanup" was a sham. He also knew from a number of people including myself that CPAC had been co-opted as intended basically from day one. Truly independent citizens such as myself and Dr. Henry Regier were being "handled and managed" by certain CPAC members whom we trusted. To Henry's credit he figured things out long before I did. I simply didn't want to believe that I'd been led down the garden path by someone I trusted.

The young CPAC as appointed by the new Council had no predisposition towards following the status quo. They were honest and forthright and still are. They have stumbled a couple of times primarily due to attempts at overcontrolling them by a member of council or two. That would be Mayor Cowan's personality shining through. The young CPAC have grabbed the bull by the horns and are not being sidetracked by CRA, Chemtura or the M.O.E.. The young CPAC see the need for source removal and they understand the other parties wish to avoid it. It is this persistence and commonsense which are slowly destroying Chemtura's and the M.O.E.'s credibility. These two parties have spent twenty-three years spinning tales and they no longer have an audience swallowing their nonsense.

I still have concerns regarding our Council. They have done a wonderful service to Woolwich residents by shaking up CPAC. Will they continue on this path by supporting the young CPAC or will they rein them in when it becomes politically expedient? Perhaps that is what the Woolwich Observer expect will happen.

Monday, April 29, 2013


This Thursday May 2/13 at 6 pm. the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee will be held in Woolwich Council Chambers on Church St. in Elmira. Whether or not CPAC members can be so devastatingly on their game as they were five weeks ago is difficult to believe. I sat in awe and watched them excavate the ground out from under Chemtura and the Ministry of the Environment. Without rancour or contempt, one after another, they destroyed the whole basis and fabric of the Chemtura/M.O.E. pretend "cleanup" that's been underway for two decades.

On the Agenda this Thursday will be comments from the Ministry of the Environment dealing with Chemtura's "Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport Model Update". This is Chemtura's response to CPAC's Resolution passed and later endorsed by Woolwich Council a year ago. Essentially for the first time, Chemtura have agreed to do some off-site source removal via ISCO or In-Situ Chemical Oxidation. They also claim to be intending to triple their off-site pumping and treating of groundwater.

Chemtura will also be presenting their Annual Monitoring Report (2012). In this report they will be doing their usual bragging about how great hydraulic containment (pump & treat) is. Of course this is the same hydraulic containment which they've just admitted can't possibly work by 2028 without off-site source removal and tripling of their pumping volumes. Apparently hypocrisy is not even a challenge for a corporation hell bent on maximizing profits and minimizing honest discourse with local residents.

Citizens will also be treated to a brief discussion of Chemtura's private technical meeting which they are holding with a number of former CPAC members and hangers on. Chemtura have been feeling decidely unwell with their performance at public CPAC meetings and are hoping to do better with their accolytes and co-optees. Recently the Sulco citizens advisory panel (CAP) was treated to a stirring defence of Chemtura's position by an informal proxy for the company; the former CPAC Chair, Pat McLean. She argued strenuously that criticisms of Chemtura should not be in a study praising Sulco's *Responsible Care efforts compared to Chemtura's. Yours truly was invited to attend the technical meeting but declined based on the attendance of numerous "friends" of Chemtura, both amateur and professional. Also if I felt for one second that this was an honest, legitimate exercise versus their typical propaganda and B/S I would reconsider.

There will also be a Report on Chemtura's Responsible Care verification. Yes this is the "do over" that the Chemical Industry Assoc'n of Canada (CIAC) permitted them a few months ago. What a disgrace.

All in all I'm not expecting fireworks but hey you never know. Maybe CPAC will be blessed with the presence of Chemtura supporters and former CPAC members in the audience. I am impressed with their willingness to be more open about their admiration and respect for the company. But for them Chemtura would have had a much more difficult time in selling their nonsense to the citizens over the last two decades plus.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


At the last CPAC meeting in March, Sebastian asked George Karlos of the M.O.E. to do some sort of cost-benefit analysis regarding the Ministry's share of off-site pump and treat costs versus the estimated costs of on-site source removal of a limited area of NAPLS and contaminated soil etc.. To George's credit he has done so and in a timely manner. That being said it should also be pointed out that a very well respected SWAT team member namely Dr. Henry Regier did respond to CPAC and SWAT with a general overview of cost/benefit analyses. Henry advised that cost/benefit analyses are much too susceptible to mathematical jiggering. In other words the person doing or commissioning the study has a bias thus it is very easy if you know the end result you want, to ensure through your assumptions and data input to get that predetermined and desired result. Henry's analysis and work was also very helpful years ago at CPAC when he dissected so called risk assessments. These too could be easily managed through assumptions and data input to massage the result that was wanted by the people paying for the whole thing.

Regardless of these legitimate concerns I have found the M.O.E.'s two page analysis to be interesting. On a similar note the M.O.E. have recently released a report showing results of downstream sediment and floodplain soil testing done last fall in the Canagagigue Creek. This report too is flawed as it's locations tested make it impossible to compare with the testing done in 1996/97. George and the M.O.E. were advised in advance that their Work Plan should be shared with CPAC/SWAT ahead of time but they chose intentionally not to do so.

Getting back to the comparative analysis done by the M.O.E.; not surprisingly the costs of substantial source removal
at RPW5, 6, 7,8 are much higher than the Ministry's 50% share of off-site pump and treat. What surprised me is that they are as low as they are. The Ministry estimated them at between 34 and 51 million dollars. Quite frankly I view that as a bargain. Considering the environmental damage done by this south-west corner of Chemtura/Uniroyal and including human health costs past, present and future which the M.O.E. did not do; this is a bargain.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Today's just out (and not on-line yet) Woolwich Observer carrys this Letter from Mr. Paul Marrow titled "Winterbourne has already suffered enough". His letter certainly gives a birds eye, resident's view of "progress" via development. He and his family have lived in Winterbourne for thirty years and initially moved there for all the usual reasons that people enjoy rural living. Peace and quiet are simply part of the equation. His letter describes the ever ongoing and expanding traffic woes through Winterbourne and including Crowsfoot Corner between Winterbourne and Conestogo.

Specifically regarding the Jigs hollow Pit he states "We had been resigned to the Jigs Hollow pit despite the fact that it is directly upwind of us, but we thought we had the assurance of council that the recycling and topsoil functions had been eliminated. Apparently we were misled, as both functions were approved. So not only do we have the eyesore of a pit along with the associated noise and dust, but we have the extra nuisance of the sound and smell of concrete and asphalt recycling.".

There are of course still the upriver West Montrose Pit (Capitol Paving) and the downriver Hunder Pit by Conestogo in the proposal stage. What I find most upsetting is both the loss of enjoyment of their property but also the longterm financial loss that all nearby residents will suffer. Nobody in their right minds will buy a home beside two or more new gravel pits that will be around for a very long time. This is a direct financial loss that neither Woolwich Council nor the Ontario Municipal Board seem willing to acknowledge. This is a direct transfer of wealth and asets from numerous citizens into the pockets of the gravel pit operators. Apparently it isn't theft or stealing as long as you play by the rules that you and yours have lobbied politicians long and hard for.

I believe that the local councillor, Bonnie Bryant, voted against the Jigs Hollow Pit. I expect that she will also vote against the Hunder Pit. If this second pit is eventually approved by Council I hope that the local residents take out their justifiable anger appropriately. They can't vote against other councillors who vote in favour of the Hunder Pit but they sure as heck can vote against the mayor if he lets them down.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Chemtura want changes at the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) as basically they are finding the ground beneath themselves being chipped away by CPAC. One of the items they want are for CPAC to be exempt from the Municipal Act requirements concerning open and public meetings. I have long advised CPAC and Woolwich Township that no public good will occur if Chemtura can speak privately with CPAC. Past experiences around this matter have indicated that Chemtura have their own interests and they do not coincide with those of the public.

Chemtura would like to see CPAC's Terms of Reference changed including item #13 dealing with open and public meetings. Yours truly submitted extensive written comments to Woolwich Township over two years ago in regards to the rewriting of CPAC's Terms of Reference. My comments were essentially ignored and only extremely modest changes occurred to the Terms of Reference. I therefore am understandably reluctant to waste my time again. If however there is an open process around this matter I would reconsider. Items # 5, 8, 9, and 12 are all problematic and need to be revisited.

I have stated it before and will repeat it here. Woolwich Township have in the past and currently continue to violate these Terms of Reference. I am somewhat loathe to jump on the renew and revise bandwagon while the Township ignore at will Terms of Reference that they "rewrote" two years ago. If they are merely guidelines with certain items being cherrypicked by the township to be followed and others ignored at will; then everybody just save your time and energy and move on to other matters.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


According to Dave Brenneman, CAO of Woolwich Township, it is indeed. Also according to Christine Broughton, municipal clerk, it is. As suggested by Chemtura and after being examined, section 238 of the Municipal Act states that a committee of council requires 50% of its' members be councillors. Another lawyer has suggested that section 238 is in reference to transparency and private meetings and therefore it is contrary to the Municipal Act for a committee of council comprised of 50% councillors to meet privately except for a very few reasons such as legal, personnel etc..

Chemtura's point in raising the matter was to point out to CPAC that CPAC would not be violating the Municipal Act if they met in private with Chemtura because CPAC's membership has only one councillor not 50%. While this is true nevertheless there is also the issue of CPAC's Terms of Reference. They also state that CPAC's meetings must be open, public and transparent. To confuse matters further let me add that Woolwich Township, Council and CPAC do not remotely abide by these Terms of Reference. They were poorly written and poorly rewritten two years ago and are ignored at will. I am strongly in agreement however with the intent to avoid private meetings or negotiations between CPAC and Chemtura, the Ministry of the Environment or any other parties.

One of the paragraphs that have been grossly ignored by Council and Woolwich Township deals with the membership of CPAC. Also the Terms of Reference deal with the maximum number of CPAC members, namely twelve. Currently they have five and once again the next public CPAC meeting (May 2/13) is in jeopardy due to members having legitimate conflicts. There may or may not be enough for a quorum and with only five members, three makes the quorum. Let me list the members to date that have left CPAC for any reason whatsoever in the last two years. Mayor Todd Cowan, Councillor Julie-Anne Herteis, David Marks, Lynne Hare, and yours truly Al Marshall. That's quite a list and the reasons are all over the map.

The somewhat good news is the establishment of the SWAT team. While SWAT could stand for special weapons and tactics, it actually stands for Soil, Water, Air and Technology. The SWAT team is headed by CPAC member, Ron Campbell. Current members include myself (Al Marshall), Rich Clausi, Dr. Henry Regier, Susanna Meteer and Graham Chevreau. In actual fact including Ron Campbell, this sub committee of CPAC has more members than CPAC itself. The solution to CPAC's membership problem appears obvious on the surface.

Yours truly may be the problem. I am the senior SWAT team member via time served, CPAC meetings attended and literally decades of involvement with UPAC, CPAC, Uniroyal/Chemtura and the Ontario M.O.E.. Here's the rub! POLITICS! Chemtura have lobbied hard to keep me off of CPAC starting over two years ago before the initial CPAC including myself was announced. They continued lobbying to have me removed after CPAC's membership was announced and their pleas fell upon sympathetic ears. For Mayor Cowan removing me two years ago was a win-win. He was personally ticked that I and three other CPAC members were pushing then CPAC Chair Councillor Herteis hard to get the CPAC show on the road. She, with the Mayor's support, was adamantly refusing to even give a date for the first public CPAC meeting more than six months after the late October 2010 municipal election.

At this point in time Chemtura will go ballistic if I am reappointed to CPAC. I am willing but the next problem is Woolwich Council. The Mayor has been approached repeatedly and has been difficult. Believe it or not he is demanding conditions and concessions from a citizen who is willing to volunteer his time and energy and continue working for free for all residents of Woolwich Township. The reason Chemtura will go ballistic is that I am by far the best informed and technically knowledgable citizen attending CPAC meetings and I'm not remotely intimidated by their ongoing junk science. I confront them regularily and make them look bad when they spin their tales. What possible honest and legitimate grounds could the Mayor have for blocking my move to a short handed CPAC? In my mind it is either personal pettiness or he is bowing to Chemtura pressure. Neither reason is honest nor legitimate.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


The pumping sucesses that Chemtura have enjoyed for the last nine or ten months have hit a snag. Surprise, surprise the issue is attributed to Ammonia Treatment System (ATS) problems again. On-site well PW4 hit it's lowest monthly average pumping rate since February 2012. That being said this well has been the workhorse for on-site pumping for the last three years. Off-site well W4 which does not have as good a record as PW4 nevertheless has been pumping at its' target rate for the last eight months and March's 4.7 litres per second versus the targeted rate of 11.4 is a disappointment.

There also was an issue with the UACTS or upper aquifer containment and treatment system. At one of the monitoring locations the groundwater levels were higher than the nearby surface water in the Canagagigue Creek. This would indicate at a minimum a local loss of hydraulic containment. In other words contaminated groundwater was not being prevented from discharging to the creek until the pumping wells lowered the groundwater levels below that of the water in the creek.

I have some questions regarding the Yara pump and treat system. Those wells are going directly into the ATS on the Chemtura site. The ATS is the last operation for groundwater treatment. Is there pre-treatment to remove chemicals from the Yara groundwater before it hits the end of the treatment train at Chemtura? If not that could explain some of the problems with the biological mechanisms that are failing in the ATS.

There were two chemicals which exceeded their effluent objectives namely NMOR and Toluene. NMOR while below the effluent limit nevertheless was triple its' effluent objective. Toluene was described as just barely exceeding its effluent objective of .4 ug/l with an effluent of .42 ug/l on March 6/13. However when I checked on Table A.1 it appears as if Toluene was discharged to the creek at .86 ug/l which is more than double its' effluent objective.

Clearly Chemtura are struggling again with their self proclaimed solution of hydraulic containment. How they think they can sell tripling of the volumes of groundwater to be pumped and sucessfully treated is beyond me. Maybe that's the whole point. They don't require community approval merely community presence.

Monday, April 22, 2013


While biosolids are a significant environmental issue in their own right I hadn't realized the possible direct connection to Elmira. This connection is to our unpopular Woolwich Bio-En facility currently under construction. According to Saturday's Waterloo Region Record one of the possible end uses for bio solids are as a biofuel. The title of the story in Saturday's Record is "Region wants to deal with biosolids here instead of trucking waste away". My understanding of our local bio energy plant is that foodstuffs (and manure?) will be put into a "digester" for the purpose of extracting methane gas. This gas which is extraordinarily similar to natural gas will then be burned to produce heat and electricity. When we are advised that biosolids can be used as a biofuel I'm assuming that is to supplement the methane gas for the production of electricity.

We are also advised that the proposed biosolids plant for Cambridge is to treat sewage sludges from Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge only. The much smaller volumes from the townships, namely North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich will be spread on local farm fields or sold as a fertilizer allegedly. Here is however where my ears perked up. "Biosolids from Elmira will be landfilled because of quality concerns from the industrial waste generated there.". Really? I assume that we are talking about Chemtura aka Uniroyal. Are there any other industrial sources here in Elmira that could possibly rival the industry and manufacturers still left in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge? Even to this day with on-site wastewater treatment at Chemtura, the Elmira treatment plant is still producing unacceptable effluent and sludges? That kind of makes me wonder what is still going down the Canagagigue Creek. Could the DDT recently found downstream somehow be coming from the Elmira sewage treatment plant and if so who is discharging it to the plant as DDT hasn't been produced in decades?

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Thursday's Elmira Independent carrys an opinion from David Suzuki titled "Muzzling scientists is an assault on democracy". Mr. Suzuki's main target is our current sitting federal Conservative government in Ottawa. The problem is most dramatic "...when the scientists' research or point of view runs counter to current government policies on matters such as environmental protection, oil sands development, and climate change...". Numerous scientific publications have sounded the alarm and last July hundreds of scientists marched on Parliament hill protesting "the death of evidence".

Further Mr. Suzuki has this to say "Countries where governments hold a tight rein on information, shut down or stifle research that runs counter to their priorities, and demonize and attack opponents are never good places to live. We have to make sure Canada doesn't become one.".

Friday, April 19, 2013


Last Wednesday Luisa D'Amato had a good Opinion column in the Waterloo Region Record titled "Resistance to biosolids plant no surprise". Luisa gave us a number of accurate reasons why dealing with this issue locally is far better environmentally than trucking it to the Niagara area as we have been doing. Luisa also made it clear how the Region essentially screwed up in their siting for this local biosolids plant. There seems to be a bit of an attitude from various levels of politicians. They seem to think that if a plan is to the benefit of the majority then the minority negatively affected have to just suck it up. Strange but I wonder when the last landfill, sewage treatment plant, biosolids plant, chemical company or licensed hazardous waste site was located next door to any sitting politician?

Maybe it's long overdue that municipal and regional planning departments set aside significant parcels of land expressly for the siting of these necessary but nasty enterprises. Putting any of them anywhere near residential housing, schools or operating commercial enterprises is just asking for major headaches and conflicts. It's one thing having the technology (and even that's in question) but without a suitable location we are no further ahead. Seriously could the Region not find a suitable site, serviced by roads etc. a few miles further out of town, away from people and businesses? Thank God we aren't living in Japan or some other tiny country with nowhere to go.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys another story about handling biosolids locally namely "Meeting packed with foes of biosolids facility". The lessons being learned include that doing the right thing environmentally is no guarantee of public acceptance especially if you ignore or take for granted local people's quality of life. Secondly simply throwing some paperwork in amongst all the rest of the junk mail isn't adequate notice. This is similar years ago when CPAC criticized the M.O.E. for not advising them of an upcoming certificate of approval being issued to Uniroyal (Crompton). The M.O.E. defended their inaction by saying Oh we posted it on-line, on the Environmental registry. CPAC then told the M.O.E. what they could do with their registry. We are here, you are here once a month, tell us in person of these upcoming changes.

Another lesson may well be an unintended one by our politicians. We've all been told for decades that our effluent from sewage treatment plants can be safely and properly handled in our local Grand River. That has never been entirely true. Now we are finding out the exact cost of handling the solids from our sewage treatment plants. I shudder to think of the state of the environment in countries like China, India, Africa and or third world countries with large human populations and little infrastructure. Finally we are being faced with ever increasing human populations primarily through immigration and the true social costs involved. We've all been told that these immigrants add to the gross national product and they increase our local market for just about eveything. What we aren't told is that their benefits are accruing to a minority of Canadians and the rest of us are picking up the social and environmental costs of more people in a fixed land mass.

Biosolids aren't a particularily pleasant topic but they are the tip of the iceburg. Is it our local housing developers who pay for increased health care costs? Do they pay for the increased education costs of an ever expanding population? You see the point I'm making. Yesterday's Record advised us that there are 6.5 job applicants for every job opening in Canada. Do the vested interests who make money from new immigrants also contribute appropriately to greater public spending on unemployment insurance? These are the bigger questions that the Canadian public need answers to and the biosolids fiasco may well serve a greater purpose in the long run.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


It's taken awhile for me to fully understand the mindset. Corporate headquarters has taken a position and the locals must follow suit. It matters not one whit that the locals have lost all credibility due to forever defending the indefensible. Until or unless corporate in Waterbury Connecticut give the go ahead, our local Chemtura reps dare not deviate one inch from the company (U.S.) line.

This of course tends to discourage in depth study and research on various local environmental issues. Afterall if science, logic and truth are given short shrift in favour of blind obedience to corporate masters then local citizens quite frankly are wasting their time trying to politely debate, convince and shift Chemtura management towards source removal of contaminants such as free phase DNAPL which they hotly deny up to and including each and every time they stumble across more on their site.

Pages 74 to 83 in Volume 1 of the most recent Annual Monitoring Report deal with NAPLS on the Uniroyal/Chemtura site. While they have been found both as free phase and as residual throughout the site (east & west), nevertheless the tortured logic to deny free phase continues. In the terms of the U.S. CIA it's all about plausible deniability. In Chemtura's case the plausibilty is however beyond thin and weak. Knowledge of the principles of DNAPL mobility and subsurface existence are ignored. Numerous criteria to delineate DNAPL existence and location are ignored or else twisted and subverted to "prove" exactly what Chemtura U.S. have dictated. Any attempt by the young CPAC to hire experts to peer review Chemtura/CRA junk science are rebuffed. The past Woolwich Council paid for a hydrogeologist acceptable to Chemtura to examine parts of their "science". That is exactly what we don't need right now. CPAC requires a truely independent, honest hydrogeologist with strong character to overcome "professional courtesies" .

Just one more item needs to be mentioned regarding the 2012 Annual Monitoring Report. Back in 1993 the excavation and removal of free phase DNAPL from TPW2 (tar pit west) ended at the border between TPW2 and M2 the former municipal landfill. We were advised that Uniroyal/Chemtura refused to continue chasing and removing the visible free phase DNAPL as it went into what Chemtura claimed was an area that they weren't responsible for, namely M2. That the Ontario M.O.E. allowed this at the time was a travesty. Lo and behold Chemtura were back in the same location last December removing drum carcasses from M2. Not one word has been mentioned about the free phase DNAPL which existed at that location twenty years ago. Did they ignore it for the second time while it was right in front of them? Or in the alternative, contrary to Chemtura's claims has it contined flowing westward off-site onto either Yara or Sulco's property? A third option would be that they actually removed it this time but are much too modest to take credit for it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Over the decades I've learned to read and understand the data including figures, tables, appendices and even the text. I have been regularily surprised by not being able to find or prove blatant fudging of test results, concentrations of contaminants etc.. What I have found however is the ability over time for Chemtura friends and colleagues to be able to focus their testing with parameters of their choice as well as locations of their choice. In other words a prime example is the failure to do shallow testing of soil and groundwater throughout Elmira. As it now stands everything found deeper in the Municipal and Bedrock aquifers is automatically chalked up to Chemtura (Yara only if it's Ammonia). If however significant concentrations of toluene, xylenes, benzene were found at the surface near the south wellfield it would clearly indicate other sources of contamination than Chemtura. These chemicals are routinely introduced via gas station leaking gas and diesel tanks such as those found at the old Beckers, Voisin Motors, Gord's Service station etc.. There are others that simply have slipped past scrutiny to date but with redevelopment will eventually be "discovered".

What one particularily learns to do is to ignore the Conclusions sections in both M.O.E. reports as well as in Chemtura's consultants reports. These Conclusions are highly imaginative and always self serving. If one looks carefully at a number of Figures in Chemtura's 2012 Annual Monitoring Report Volume 1, much can be learned. Figures 4.5 through to 4.9 are very interesting. They show plumes of NDMA and Chlorobenzene in the Municipal Upper, Lower and Bedrock aquifers throughout Elmira. It would have been helpful to see Ammonia plumes among others (benzene, toluene, xylenes etc.) but refer back to the first paragraph and you'll understand why these aren't included. Now these Figures that I've mentioned need the reader to draw in both the current off-site wells (W5A/B, W4, W3, E7) and the proposed new off-site wells namely W6A/B, W7, W8 and W9. These new wells allegedly will end up tripling the amount of off-site pumping without dewatering the aquifers and without destroying on-site hydraulic containment.

When you draw in all these off-site pumping wells you will see the pattern. Chemtura and colleagues call them "hot spots". What they are in actuality are source zones. All the off-site wells to date are in source zones other than Uniroyal/Chemtura and all the new ones are as well. Some of the off-site wells will be located on the downgradient end of the source zone but that makes practical sense. This understanding is courtesy of the training provided by Uniroyal/Chemtura over the decades. In other words look at what they are doing, not what they are saying.

Monday, April 15, 2013


There was an open meeting this morning dealing with things like agenda items for the next CPAC meeting (6 pm. Thurs. May 2/13) as well as discussions around private technical meetings Chemtura wishes to hold at their site and under their chairmanship. As I understand the rules, apparently a quorum (currently three) of CPAC members cannot meet in private. Apparently this is similar to Township Council rules. That being said, less than a quorum of CPAC members (ie. 1 or 2) are permitted to meet privately at their discretion with various stakeholders including Chemtura, the Ministry of the Environment etc.. I would describe these rules as both awkward and as necessary, unfortunately.

There was also discussion about the M.O.E.'s recent downriver study of sediments and soils. The details will be discussed and questions asked at the upcoming May 2 CPAC meeting. There was both praise and criticism of this report as it seems to be a bit of a mixed bag. Yours truly did get to utter the words "I told you so" in regards to the M.O.E.'s refusal to give CPAC or SWAT a Work Plan in advance of the work being done.

I think it's fair to suggest that there is unanimity from CPAC regarding their mandate, direction and purpose. While tactics and strategy opinions may vary; it is heartening to see the overall solidarity of purpose and overall understanding of the big picture and where all the stakeholders fit into it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Last Tuesday evening the CWRA (Conestoga Winterbourne Residents Association) was represented by Doug Joy who was the only private citizen to speak to the Hunder Pit issue. The title of the Observer's article in today's paper is "New information. Same conclusion). Sometimes one gets the idea that proponents of various developments feel the need to keep throwing more and more paper at the parties in order to bolster their positions. Tuesday night seemed to be about that as Mr. Joy indicated that there was absolutely nothing worthwhile in the latest submissions by the proponent. The Observer's article also reiterated the September 2013 date for the start of the formal OMB hearing. Mr. Kennaley of Woolwich Township has indicated that he is currently studying these latest submissions and will report back to Council with a recommendation on May 21/13. In my opinion Council have their backs to the wall. The close to ninety people who attended this week's Council session will brook no excuses and no comprimises from the Township on this pit. Socially and environmentally it is not an appropriate location and no amount of paperwork or excuses will make it so. It's crunch time council.

Friday, April 12, 2013


As promised the Ontario Ministry of the Environment have shared a recent report with CPAC & SWAT concerning testing late last fall in the Canagagigue Creek downstream of Chemtura. I had asked the M.O.E. if they would share their Work Plan for this testing with CPAC & SWAT prior to their going ahead. The answer was no and thus we have just about what I expected we'd receive. It is a report showing a major increase in DDT at one station with some declines in Dioxins at others along with one site holding steady. The soil standards have been reduced for Dioxins since 1996 which does tend to put greater pressure upon the M.O.E. for some cleanup. The real problem, among others, is that this 2012 report while having some interesting data really can not objectively be compared with the 96/97 report. Out of ten floodplain locations in 1996, only three were tested this past fall. Out of three stations in the creek for sediment testing; only one was tested and it even wasn't in the same exact location. Therefore apple to apple comparisons are essentially not possible.

It will be interesting to hear how the M.O.E. go about justifying this peculiar report as well as actually interpreting the data. My expectation is that this is just another red herring for the purpose of deflecting CPAC away from their focus on source removal both on and off the Chemtura site. Also I might add the report isn't particularily user friendly as the M.O.E. haven't been consistent with their units of measure between 96/97 and last fall (2012). It makes it more difficult to compare when you have parts per trillion and parts per billion in the original report and now the M.O.E. are using ug per gram and pq per gram etc.. I expect that the M.O.E. will be recommending more testing and more study and yes again they will not share ahead of time their work plans.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Yours truly has been receiving e-mail invitations to private technical meetings to be held at Conestoga Rovers offices in Waterloo. These private meetings are by invitation only and are similar to the former DNAPL technical meetings held at CRA's offices years ago. CPAC at the last public meeting (March 28) indicated that they had reservations about this idea. Since then there has been a new development and or a new twist. It appears as if Chemtura have been doing a little checking into the Municipal Act and have come up with an interesting twist. It appears according to Dwight Este that as CPAC have only one councillor on their committee that by section 238 (1) they are not technically a committee of council. This therefore according to Dwight exempts CPAC from section 239 of the Municipal Act which deals with closed meetings. What Dwight and Chemtura are trying to do is draw CPAC out of their public meeting only formats and get them into private meetings. This makes sense from Chemtura's position as their credibility is being destroyed in the public meetings.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


This public information session was held last evening in Woolwich Council Chambers. After the Chair, Councillor Bonnie Bryant introduced the meeting she asked for speakers. A gentleman representing the Conestoga Winterbourne Residents Association (CWRA) rose and spoke. I believe his name was Mr. Joy but apologies if I'm misspelling or simply misheard his name. This gentleman discussed numerous issues including noise, visual impacts, agriculture and traffic. Essentially he advised that there is nothing in the latest information and reports submitted that really improves or lessens the impacts on local residents. Regarding noise he referred to the suggestion that the two pits namely Jigs Hollow (Kuntz)and the Hunder Pit could somehow cooperate and work together to reduce maximum noise levels as simply being ludicrous. Hours of operation were also a concern as some reports state that the proposed Hunder Pit will be open Saturdays and others say not.

Once in a while silence can be powerful and intimidating. Councillor Bryant expressed some surprise at the lack of speakers. This was partly due to the standing room only council gallery. I did a quick count and came up with eighty-five residents present who left immediately after the public session for the Hunder Pit was done. This is a very strong message to Council. The Jigs Hollow Pit citizens did their homework and destroyed the arguments of the proponents to no avail. The CWRA and supporters aren't going to waste much time on Council. If Council wish to object to this gravel pit application and help their citizens, then fine. If however Council reverse themselves in any way whatsoever, then clearly the CWRA are ready and willing to fight for themselves. It shouldn't be this way as in theory at least, local councils are supposed to reflect the wishes of their constituents. Let's see how this plays out.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


There is a process to these Applications and quite frankly I think it stinks. It's almost like running a marathon only it's not over in 2 1/2 or 3 hours. This marathon isn't even over in two or three years. It's a money marathon and the party with the full time staff and financial backing has all the advantages. Shame on the province of Ontario and on all the rest of us for having been slowly subverted and co-opted over half a century or more.

Tonite at 7 pm. we will hear about "new information" including noise reports as well as hydrogeological reports. These reports are allegedly in response to concerns that have been raised by both the Township as well as nearby residents. Apparently this proposed pit also includes plans for asphalt and concrete recycling which I hadn't realized. To date Woolwich township are digging in their heels on this proposal however we all saw how things went south with the Jigs Hollow Pit outside Winterbourne. There is a difference here and that is money. The residents of Golf Course Rd. have money and they only spent some of it in obtaining a beautiful mix of rural and suburban living. They will be a party at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing and thus will not be shut out of any negotiations or discussions.

At the moment the formal OMB hearing is scheduled for September 3/13 but that could easily be pushed back further. For me this is about one thing and that is that gravel is cheap and easy to extract along the Grand River where it is close to the surface. To date the accumulative environmental impacts of gravel pits up and down the length of the Grand River have been ignored. We as humans have made all kinds of environmental laws that give lip service only to preservation of our natural environment while giving precedence to the individuals who wish to exploit it for greater profit. There is lots of gravel farther away from our streams and rivers but more money can be made by taking it where it's easiest first.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "UW-developed biosolids technology sets new standards". Apparently Lystek International Inc., a University of Waterloo commercial spinoff, are not taking the Region of Waterloo's decision lying down. The Region have decided that they are going with a biosolids heat drying process rather than the internationally recognized Lystek System.

Owen Ward is the writer of this article and founder a founder of the company (Lystek) and a co-founder of the process. In his article he goes into great lengths and specifics as to why the Lystek process is vastly superior to heat drying. Even on the face of it his process appears to avoid numerous problems that befall heat drying including fires, explosions and health effects on humans from dust and particle inhalation. Also on the face of it one would have to believe his process would save money and energy by not drying out the biosolids as the region's heat drying process does.

When I read between the lines I begin to wonder if this is merely one more master plan process that is biased from the very beginning. Mr. Ward while not throwing stones at the Region, nevertheless is clearly upset by a supposed process to determine the best solution to a problem, that fails to do so. It is also strange to me that a technology that is so well accepted internationally, including the U.S. EPA, is not deemed worthy by our own Region of Waterloo. Something appears to be amiss here.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys a story about the closing of the A.O. Smith Corp. water heater manufacturing plant in Fergus. It was formerly known as GSW (General Steel Wares). The title of the story is "Fergus plant closure is dire news". While the focus of the story is both economic and the accompanying human hardship nevertheless the last two sentences of the story really stood out for me. They are "Atkinson said that after decades of industrial use, the land on which the plant stands is badly contaminated. Redeveloping it will be a major challenge.".

Most of us have slowly come to realize over the last decade that the majority of our past local manufacturers are also our local polluters. While we were busy working hard and paying taxes our provincial Ministry of the Environment were carefully looking the other way and letting each and every company do their own thing. My surprise in regards to the old GSW plant being a challenge to redevelopment is based on a newspaper clipping I have from eight years ago namely the K-W Record on April 5, 2005. This article advises us that Conestoga Rovers, consultants to Uniroyal/Chemtura were fined $25,000 after an investigation "...discovered on several occasions between January 2001 and May 2004, GSW discharged higher than the maximun limit of trichloroethylene , a solvent." This discharge was via storm sewers into the nearby Grand River. The reason CRA were charged and convicted was due to their being in charge of a groundwater pump and treat system on behalf of GSW.

Therefore this pump and treat system has been in full operation for more than twelve years now. Despite this there are concerns that the site is still heavily contaminated. Kind of reminds one of the Chemtura site here in Elmira, doesn't it? Just exactly how grossly contaminated is this site? Who will now be in charge of operating the pump and treat? When will the Ontario M.O.E. and other authorities give hydraulic containment (pump & treat) the discredit it deserves? Hydraulic containment was designed to contain the spread of groundwater contamination exactly as it's name implies. It was not designed to permanently remove subsurface contamination in anything even remotely resembling a reasonable length of time. It's cheaper and less expensive than real cleanup and that's the bottom line here folks.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Yesterday's Elmira Independent has two stories and one Editorial in regards to the public CPAC meeting of Thursday March 28/31. The front page story is titled "CPAC narrows focus to Chemtura property". Gail Martin includes a couple of quotes that I did in previous postings but she also includes an excellent one by Steve Martindale (M.O.E.) that I missed. Steve is referring to the cost sharing agreement between the M.O.E. and Uniroyal (Chemtura) as he says "You'd never get the government to put money into industry cleanup now. It was signed by the minister (environment) at the time - that was a different time.".

Yours truly was also mentiobned by Gail Martin for mentioning that I've been pushing for on-site source removal for years and years. Jeff of Chemtura went through the typical Chemtura song and dance about they've looked and they can't find free phase DNAPL. Ron Campbell, Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach abd Councillor Mark Bauman all expressed concerns with Chemtura eventually packing their bags and leaving their on-site mess behind. This has actually just recently happened in Cambridge with Northstar Aerospace winding down operations. While there are Control Orders in place it looks as if the M.O.E. and taxpayers are currently holding the bag.

Gail's Editorial titled "A lasting lagacy" is a cautionary warning about vigilance required to prevent future environmental calamities. Unfortunately our Ontario M.O.E. has absolutely never been up to the job. At the bottom end there isn't enough supervision and accountability and at the top end the senior bureaucrats don't want to rock the boat. This may very well be due to their understanding as to where their political masters are coming from. In other words if the M.O.E. is primarily for show and appearance then you are never going to have senior management who are aggressive in protecting our natural environment.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Well after a title like the above it's kind of tough to say "nothing personal" to the legal profession. In fact I might even be undermining the thesis of this posting which is that in my opinion (not being a lawyer), there might well be grounds for a civil action against the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Possibly pushing the envelope even further I'm wondering about charges (criminal?) dealing with what is known in commercial crime as Bait and Switch. In a retail environment offerring one item for sale to attract customers into the store with the express purpose of switching them over to different items that may be more expensive, lesser quality etc.is illegal. Of course the bait that is offerred is probably in extremely limited quantities for whatever reason given. I think that qualifies as a criminal offence although I'm not positive.

Switching back to Elmira, Ontario there was a private Settlement Agreement signed between the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.) and Uniroyal Chemical (now Chemtura) back on October 7, 1991. This Settlement Agreement effectively ended an ongoing Environmental Appeals Board Hearing with multiple parties. Uniroyal had appealed a Control Order issued upon them by the M.O.E.. This Settlement Agreement (aka "sweetheart deal") agreed that two east side consolidation pits filled with toxic wastes would be removed but after that there would be an Indemnity against liability for all other known contamination on the site. This included the west side ponds which had been identified by the M.O.E. as ongoing sources of contamination to the Municipal aquifer in Elmira.

Both the "Bait" and the "Switch" took place less than a month later. On November 4, 1991 a new public Control Order was issued upon Uniroyal (Chemtura) which demanded removal of DNAPLS (dense non aqueous phase liquids) from beneath the west side ponds. This Control Order was a public document whereas the Settlement Agreement of a month earlier was not. Also a public Press Release was issued on the same day as the Settlement Agreement (October 7/91). This Public Press Release was a blatant lie in that the then Ontario Minister of the Environment stated that all buried wastes would be removed, completely contrary to the Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement was given out to the six parties at the then ongoing Environmental Appeal Board Hearings but NOT to the media or public.

Therefore I'm asking these questions of our legal profession. Is this indeed a "Bait and Switch"? Is it illegal? Is a class action civil suit appropriate? Has there been a violation of criminal law? It's never too late for justice to happen especially if it would force the long overdue and publicly promised cleanup here in Elmira.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Twenty plus years ago there was federal interest in our world class pollution problems here in Elmira, Ontario. Various studies were done involving toxic contaminants in the Canagagigue Creek which runs through the centre of the then Uniroyal Chemical site (now Chemtura). The quick explanation I've heard about their sudden departure seems to revolve around politics. Politics as in the province essentially asking them to get lost. I haven't been able to confirm that scenario but certainly something happened. Also I'd really like to know all the factors involved in an environmental crisis coming under federal jurisdiction. Clearly the great lakes which border both Canada and the United Staes are an obvious example. Also coastal areas appear to be under federal jurisdiction.

Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carried a story about a number of environmental crises under federal jurisdiction titled "Giant Mine cleanup rises to nearly $1 billion". The other locations mentioned include two west coast problem areas and an air force base in Labrador. Finally we have another mine in the Yukon. These examples would seem to be in line with federal jurisdiction as I believe mineral wealth and mines do fall under federal responsibility. Perhaps the only reason there was initial interest by the Feds in Elmira is because the Canagagigue Creek drains into the Grand River which then discharges into Lake Erie. The problem with that logic is that all our creeks and rivers eventually discharge into a coastal area hence leaving very little for our provincial environment ministries to be responsible for.

One mine in the north-west territories could cost Canadian taxpayers $1 billion. Another mine is estimated at $590 million. There are "...6,765 known toxic sites, including 2,709 "priority" sites." Good Lord! The Giant Mine, the focus of the Record's article has a quarter million tonnes of arsenic stored underground and 3,600 cubic metres of arsenic and arsenic-contaminated material are in above ground buildings which are in disrepair. Arsenic occurs naturally in certain geological areas and is also used as part of the mining process to separate out valuable minerals. That being said who was in charge in the first place? What government agency, federal or provincial, allowed private companies to rack up these incredible environmental and financial liabilities and then walk away from them? This is the scandal here namely the unbelievable lack of oversight and supervision by Canadian and provincial authorities. These ongoing expenses make it clear that our federal government are hardly in shape to be taking on other contaminated sites such as ours in Elmira, despite the overwhelming need.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


For twenty-four years citizens, politicians, consultants and stakeholders have all avoided a major concern. That concern however has long been whispered quietly in Elmira. There is a plan, albeit an inadequate plan, involving Chemtura (Uniroyal) pumping groundwater allegedly for thirty years from the Elmira Aquifers and simultaneously pumping groundwater from their highly contaminated site, in perpetuity. The "in perpetuity" is starting to be questioned and addressed by the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC).

Ron Campbell of CPAC stated last Thursday evening that he views the current remediation plan as both a containment project for Chemtura's property (ie. on-site) as well as a containment project for the rest of the Elmira Aquifers (ie. off-site). In other words contrary to the claims of Chemtura/CRA/ M.O.E. Ron feels that the pump and treat (hydraulic containment) is exactly that (containment) and no more. He and others feel that it is to prevent the ongoing spread of contamination by natural groundwater flow; rather than to sucessfully restore Elmira's groundwater to drinking water standards.

Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach of CPAC has gently informed Chemtura that when it comes to "in perpetuity", corporations are short term phenomena only. Perhaps "in perpetuity" could describe certain long term geological activities but that expression is total nonsense being used to describe the actions of a corporation. In other words companies fold, go bankrupt, disappear, are merged with others and or simply walk away from certain problems and jurisdictions as they please. When, not if that happens, the taxpayers of Ontario through the Ontario Ministry of the Environment will be left holding the bag. This is the elephant in the room. Chemtura's insistence that they will forever be responsible and pump and treat their groundwater beneath their site is total hokum.

Councillor and CPAC member Mark Bauman has an interesting take on the cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers. He says he is not hung up on the restoration of the Elmira Aquifers because there is more water outside Elmira, presumably to the north and west. This may be true however it kind of begs the question why the province, the M.O.E., the Region, sucessive Woolwich Councils and Chemtura have been insisting that they can and will clean up Elmira's groundwater to drinking standards. Has this "cleanup" been a massive public fraud from the very beginning?

Whether Mark is right or wrong the Elmira Aquifers need to be contained in the short run and cleaned up eventually; the very same as the Chemtura site. We can continue the misdirection and deceit and leave this mess to coming generations or we can be responsible citizens and continue to pressure for a substantive cleanup. We can also pressure for our politicians and authorities to tell us the truth. That would be a refreshing improvement.

Monday, April 1, 2013


One of the funnier moments on Thursday night occurred when Ron Campbell gently pointed out to Josef of Chemtura that CPAC were right a year ago when they passed their Resolution bluntly stating that the Chemtura/CRA plan was deeply flawed and would not clean up the Elmira Aquifers by 2028. Josef seriously suggested that Ron was a really good guesser. This comes about as CRA's 5 year Update has indicated massive increases in pumping as well as probable source removal via In Situ Chemical Oxidation are required. Also most interesting is my and others understanding that Chemtura have now admitted that 2028 is a bit of a guess but that as they are committed to that date then they have to confirm that they will make it.

Sebastian was nominated and voted in as CPAC's new vice-chair. This was necessary as David Marks has resigned from CPAC.

Adam Loney of Conestoga Rovers (CRA) provided information in relation to both Toluene at 34 ppb. in the Canagagigue Creek as well as answering my question from last month regarding arithmetic means versus statistically significant increases downstream from upstream. Apparently the arithmetic means are the result of the last three years testing in the "Gig" and hence detections of particular chemicals will raise the downstream arithmetic means from upstream non detects for a three year period. This is very helpful and tends to put us on notice in regards to particular recurring substances. One problem we have with resampling after a significant hit such as 34 ppb. Toluene is that due to the lab turnaround time, it takes about a week to resample. While this will catch ongoing discharges it will miss slugs of contaminants going into the creek. I did ask Adam if their testing of the creek (37 samples) over three years was kind of hit and miss and to my surprise he agreed it was. Hmm! Interesting.

Yours truly spoke up at Public Forum on the Agenda and pointed out that there were several pages in Appendix C in the 2012 Annual Monitoring Report which were very strange. They were strange because of all the effort CRA & Chemtura put into denying and refuting petroleum hydrocarbon detections found in well CH70 by Peritus Environmental last March. Chemtura were trying to sell their "oopsy" defence in regards to DNAPL found 100 feet below ground at OW57-32R which is just a little further west than CH70. The "oopsy" defence said that odours, stained soil cuttings and an iridescent sheen found on the mud recirculation tank was not DNAPL but could have been caused by an accidental spill of an oil or gasoline product into the tank. They attempted to buttress this theory by advising that petroleum hydrocarbons were not routinely found in Elmira groundwater. Based just upon the number of service stations alone in Elmira which have undergone major remediation due to leaking gasoline and diesel; their statement is pathetic. Then when you add in spills and or dumping at Yara, Chemtura and Varnicolor, their excuse becomes ludicrous. Long story short we now find out that Peritus Environmental detected petroleum hydrocarbons in the four wells surrounding their client's property which happens to be the old Varnicolor Chemical site. The wells are on the north, south , east and west sides and are named CH43, CH69, OW56 and CH70 again. To me it seems very strange that not only are CRA/Chemtura reproducing Peritus's results in their report but they are doing so without any suggestion that they are inaccurate. Jeff of Chemtura has promised to get back to me on this issue at the next CPAC meeting.

Further to Chemtura's strange suggestion for private/semi-private technical meetings under their control. These allegedly will include things like former Long Range Plans and DNAPL "investigations". While Dwight of Chemtura wants to keep these small and "manageable" Ron of CPAC made it clear that CPAC's SWAT team (soil, water, air & technical) would need to be included. Then we find that Chemtura intend to be in charge of location, agenda, the Chair and even who are limited to speaking roles and who are limited to observing only. Sorry guys but this is just Chemtura playing more of their manipulative games. They are losing in the public CPAC venue and are trying to change the rules in their favour. I for one am not interested in being involved once more in non good faith discussions with a company with a long local history of deception and wasting citizens time. This SWAT team member believes that public CPAC meetings are the appropriate forum for these discussions held under the chairmanship of the CPAC Chair, Dr. Dan Holt.