Friday, May 31, 2013


My ten minute Delegation to CPAC last evening focused on the DNAPL excavations at tar pit west 2 (TPW2) in 1993. Chemtura's Jeff Merriman had baldly stated at the May 2/13 CPAC meeting that free phase DNAPL was neither seen nor removed in 1993. Not only was this rewriting history but fortunately I found numerous written references to the 1993 excavations in reports produced by Chemtura's consultants (CRA) but also by others. These clearly indicated that liquid flowing Dense Non Aqueous Phase liquids were seen and only partially removed. The ramifications of this may very well be the very high dissolved concentrations of contaminants in the groundwater, next door at Yara (Nutrite). In fact both the M.O.E. and hydrogeologist Wilf Ruland did suggest in writing the possibility of DNAPL gravity flowing off the Chemtura site over to Yara.

I also was able to take CPAC and the public through the Minutes of the May 2/13 CPAC meeting in which Mike Spencer of the M.O.E. had inaccurately described the conclusions of the downstream monitoring program last fall. Pages 2,3 and 4 of the Minutes were absolutely riddled with errors and inaccuracies. These included miscounting the number of locations tested last fall as well as broad statements regarding numerical changes from the 1996 testing that far overeached what they had done. There were also just plain inaccurate statements regarding results being lower than they were in 1996 when in fact they weren't. I was also able to introduce the strong possibility of a seasonal component to the downstream Dioxin and DDT data. In fact Mr. spencer did aid in that as he made reference to this springs flows in the creek washing out sediments that were there last fall (pg.3).

There was lively debate around both the DNAPL and Dioxin/DDT issues by all CPAC members. Chemtura were forced to backtrack on issues such as only creekbank erosion is a source of Dioxins/DDT downstream as well as admitting to free phase DNAPL on their site. They also admitted that free phase DNAPL flow is NOT controlled by hydraulic containment ie. well pumping. Their claim that Dioxins & DDT are hydrophobic and can't be mobilized by groundwater was disputed by myself. I made it very clear that they could be mobilized by oils and solvents, both of which are prevalent on the Chemtura site.

Two positions were clearly enunciated by CPAC Chair Dr. Dan Holt. Firstly CPAC would not be passing a Resolution urging the M.O.E. prioritize Chemtura's new off-site cleanup plans until CPAC had received funding for a peer review of those documents and issues. Secondly with respect, in future, CPAC would not be sending representatives to any further private Chemtura/CRA technical meetings.

Mark Bauman, Ron Campbell, Rich Clausi and more all suggested to Chemtura that they reposition their 2013 biomonitoring program further downstream. Jeff Merriman had again been bragging about decreases in Dioxins/DDT found in clams and leeches in this program. I pointed out that all the cages holding these critters were upstream of both GP1/GP2 and the recent downstream testing which may have found increased DDT in the sediments. It seems apparent to me that GP1/GP2 is one of the ongoing sources of Dioxins/DDT to the creek and the proposed scraping and capping of them this summer will not solve the problem.

Vivienne and Dr. Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach contributed to overall discussion on numerous issues and most importantly are keeping their eye on the big picture namely source removal.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


From time to time it becomes quite obvious that the only reason the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee was formed was to allow the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to regain face and status after the double whammy of Varnicolor Chemical and Uniroyal in the late 80's and early 90's. The M.O.E.'s credibility was absolutely in the dumpster as citizens recalled all the promises and assurances made to them during the 70's and 80's that their drinking water was safe. Added to that was M.O.E. incompetence and outright covering up of the Varnicolor Chemical pollution. Hindsight being 20/20 we now know that they kept Nutrite ammonia pollution under wraps as well.

Despite this every now and again either the M.O.E. or Chemtura will make a request of CPAC to either endorse a report or a change in monitoring etc. Similarily a M.O.E. employee is currently asking CPAC to pass a Resolution urging his superiors to give priority consideration to a recent Chemtura proposal. At the same time Chemtura are trying to sweet talk CPAC into attending so called private technical meetings. Chemtura are not interested in CPAC's input. They simply want to be able to say down the road that CPAC participated. They also want their cake with this one as they don't want the full CPAC & SWAT to be able to publicly comment on their proposed off-site plans. The public either in person or via the media also have a right to here these plans first hand.

Tonight at the public CPAC meeting these two requests will be discussed including CPAC's formal response. Also on the Agenda are DNAPLS, recent Canagagiue downstream monitoring and how Chemtura's history is not supportive of their new proposals.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Now that's simply a downright silly title above but every once in a while.... . Anyhow yes tomorrow night at 6 pm. CPAC will be held in the Woolwich Council Chambers on Church St. and everyone is welcome. As a little shot to Chemtura and their friends in the community, CPAC is the only legitimate vehicle for PUBLIC discussion and debate towards resolving the groundwater and drinking water issues in Elmira. Despite tremendous past faults with CPAC, even then while operating in business hours and thus sucessfully eliminating the bulk of citizens from attending, nevertheless it was open to the public to both hear and speak. This is contrary to Chemtura's current attempts to avoid public scrutiny with by invitation only, technical meetings on their site and under their control.

Phragmites is but one more invasive species causing environmental harm in Ontario. Recall purple loosestrife and its' prevalence throughout the Grand River watershed. Phragmites are huge plants often seven feet tall or more and they are flourishing in Ontario and in Woolwich and Elmira. They have been in the news including local papers as well as the Jan/Feb 2013 edition of the Ontario Angler and Hunter.

There is a website titled and its' purpose is to be a hub for information as to how to control the spread of phragmites. My understanding is it is harmful to our native wetland fauna by crowding them out and apparently it also reduces habitat for small animals due to being incredibly thick and dense at its' base. It is a light brown in colour and can be recognized by towering over whatever neighbours it still has.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Chemtura Canada's Progress Report for April 2013 came out last week. We were treated to the never ending litany of reasons/excuses as to why they once again are unable to maintain their off-site pumping rates of groundwater to the target levels they had previously set as being required to restore the Elmira Aquifers to drinking water standards. Keep clearly in mind that these pumping rates are the old ones. The new proposed rates are three times higher and I am confident that their new excuses at least will be three times better.

Here we go: well rehabilitation, pump replacement, activated carbon replacement and Ammonia Treatment System (ATS) operational issues. Oh and let's not forget power outages as well affecting groundwater pumping. In regards to ATS operational issues, modesty almost makes me fail to mention that yours truly appealed their Certificate of Approval for their Ammonia System back in 2007.

As far as the so called quality of the effluent that their containment & treatment system discharges to the Canagagigue Creek; while they achieved the Limits required they failed to meet their Objectives for chlorobenzene, toluene and nitrosomorpholine (NMOR). Biota and all lifeforms in the creek should be shaking in their boots in regards to a proposed tripling of quantities of partially cleaned groundwater being discharged to the creek.

To put things in perspective April's off-site groundwater pumping was the worst in the past year. Overall the off-site pumping had been improving since later 2012 which after all their pumping failures isn't saying all that much.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carrys the following story "Chile fines Barrick $16M for "serious" violations". Barrick is a world wide player on the gold mining stage and has a $8.5 billion project on the Chile-Argentine border. It is referred to as the Pascua-Lama Project and construction work is now halted until Barrick constructs systems that were promised to control contaminated water. Apparently these containment structures were fundamental to Barrick obtaining their environmental permits in the first place.

Imagine that the nervy buggers. They actually obtained permits on promises and then went ahead without doing what they'd promised. They probably forgot they were in Chile and thought they were in Canada or the U.S.. Here in Elmira Ontario, Chemtura Canada are finishing up their stroking of the Grand River Conservation Authority with their recently released "Scoped Environmental Impact Study". This report is ostensibly to satisfy concerns the Authority has when there is construction or physical changes made in the floodplain of the Grand River or any of its' tributaries. In this case we are talking about the floodplain of the Canagagigue Creek as it flows through the Chemtura site and Elmira.

Chemtura have had Dioxins as well as DDT in the subsurface floodplain of the creek for decades. Also these same persistent and toxic substances have been found downstream both in the sediments of the creek as well as in the soils of the downstream floodplain along the creek. The GRCA in their infinite wisdom however aren't worried about that, they are worried about dogwoods, ash and willow trees in the area. I've been advised that these are very common and simple species to reintroduce.

On page 1 the authors of this EIS namely Conestoga Rovers claim that "...the analytical data demonstrates that DDT, dioxins and furans are not leaching to the groundwater.". I dispute that categorically. The analytical data is inadequate at best and inaccurate at worst. There has not been an honest, peer reviewed scientific study done either on site or downstream. In fact the latest amateur hour work done by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, if taken at face value, also does not support Chemtura's and CRA's position. Again real scientific study is rarely done while well paid, client driven, long time consultants to Chemtura make up their "science" as they go. More charitably put is that engineers are not scientists yet they think that their work is scientifically rigorous when it's not.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Of course the big question is will council stick to their guns or will they roll over when the going gets tough. Both the Elmira Independent and the Woolwich Observer have stories in their papers this week. The Independent's is titled
"Woolwich to oppose Hunder gravel pit at OMB" and the Observer's is "Woolwich to continue fight against gravel pit in Conestogo".

At council this past week it was decided that the Township would formally oppose the Hunder gravel pit application. Outstanding issues include traffic, noise, dust and visual impacts. Of course you will recall that most of those were also issues with the Jigs Hollow Pit beside Winterbourne but in my opinion purely for political and financial reasons the township acquiesced. With the Hunder Pit outside Conestogo the residents are armed financially and will be a party to the proceedings. That in a nutshell is where our democracy has gone. Similar to our justice system if you don't have the big bucks you basically aren't even at the table.

The Ontario Municiapl Board (OMB) hearing is scheduled to start on September 3rd with 25 days set aside for the hearing.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Yesterday's Elmira Independent carrys a full page story on page 3 titled "List of Chemtura chemicals not released, after train derailment". Surprisingly when I went on-line to get a link to it , it wasn't there. Last October a train derailed in uptown Waterloo in the Willow and Allan St. neighbourhood. Fortunately the chemical tankers did not spill or leak their contents which were bound for Chemtura (Uniroyal) in Elmira. Allegedly these contents were non hazardous according to Chemtura.

Apparently a full list has been made available after the fact to fire chief Lyle Quan. He however received it with a long string of conditions attached which is both unfortunate and ridiculous. While willing to share it with first responders after a future train spill he is not willing to share it now with City of Waterloo Councillors or residents. The excuse is that old bugabear namely terrorism. How smart do they really have to be to figure out which trains are carrying hazardous chemicals to and from which companies? Meanwhile local residents and even new prospective buyers have the right to know what the risks are living near to an industrial rail line.

Both Chemtura and Sulco (CCC) in Elmira handle toxic and dangerous chemicals. They can be transported by both truck and or rail. Statistically I would guess that rail transport is safer with fewer collisions and spills. Nevertheless while on our highways and roads as well as when crossing railway tracks we accept a certain level of risk. We shouldn't have to accept that risk when we are allegedly safe in our own homes. The only thing worse than knowing the nearby rail line is carrying hazardous chemicals and what they are, is suspecting the same and fearing the worst because we don't know. I will say this: over the last twenty years Chemtura in Elmira have phased out some particularily nasty chemicals. I have very little knowledge in regards to Sulco and the variety of chemicals they handle with the exception of sulphuric acid. I believe they transport it via both road and train.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Immigration and growth are money makers for some Canadians ie. developers & home builders. For the rest of us it simply means more crowding, more traffic, more environmental degradation and higher taxes. Today's front page story in the Local Section of the Waterloo Region Record is titled "Strasbourg Road extension approved". Local residents and environmentalists have been fighting this proposed road for eleven years. While its' route has been changed to minimize impact on a cold water trout stream and wetlands, nevertheless it will negatively impact the area.

The road alone will cost taxpayers $22 million. Then add in sewer, hydro, water services plus garbage and snow shovelling. This is why developers make money and the rest of us smucks pick up the forever future tax increases. Kitchener councillors are between a rock and a hard place. The federal level of government controls immigration and demands that lower tiers of government must make provisions for and accomodate ever increasing populations. Provincial legislation combined with the Ontario Municipal Board enforces and controls these demands.

The bottom line is that every community small and large are paying for the privelege of enriching the few. They are paying through their taxes and by living in a constantly degraded and overtaxed environment. This degraded environment also includes ever increasing sewage dumped into the Grand River and ever increasing demands for clean water, none of which is sustainable forever.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Today's posting deals with municipal interference in what is advertised as an independent citizens' committee. This interference is not restricted to just Woolwich but is a fact of life with all committees of council. Politicians at all levels do not delegate power and authority. They do however delegate work as well as blame. The purpose is to allow an arms length "independent" group of citizens to appear to be influencing and participating in all decisions. The reality is considerably different.

The purpose of today's overdue posting is multifold. One, paraphrasing my friend Richard Clausi, sometimes the watchdog has to do more than bark; he has to bite. I have been disrespected and insulted by Woolwich Council although two of the councillors were misinformed and misled by their colleagues. I have waited patiently for the Mayor to either make amends or to rectify his petty behaviour of two years ago. Instead he continues it as I indicated here a couple of Saturdays ago with the demand that I drop the Elmira Advocate before he'll agree to put me back on the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC). The problem with a Mayor who has been described by a friend as not being a liar, simply someone who tells people what they want to hear; is if I was dumb enough to end the Advocate he would likely renege. His condition was told to two of his friends simply to keep them satisfied that he was amenable to my reinstatement.

Another purpose of my letting the cat out of the bag as to the extreme control the Mayor has attempted to exercise over CPAC is to let the public know how fragile the underpinnings of public consultation really are. Currently there is a request before CPAC to reexamine their Terms of Reference. I have written here before and have spoken to CPAC & SWAT (Soil, Water, Air, Technical) as recently as yesterday as to the nonsense that is in those TOR which fortunately has been ignored by both past and present councils and CPACs.

The third purpose is this: this current CPAC have proven themselves to be extremely resilient and extremely fair and balanced in their approach to various hostile and unfriendly forces. Whether it is in the manipulative, disrespectful and rude behaviour of Chemtura towards CPAC's Chair just before Christmas at a council meeting, or attempts at bullying by the mayor, this CPAC have soldiered on. Credit must go to their internal fortitude, self confidence and keeping their eye on the ball.

So what further horrible behaviour has our mayor induged in? Well after the resignation of Councillor Herteis as CPAC Chair back in the spring of 2011, Mayor Cowan appointed himself Chair. Overall he did a pretty good job at public CPAC meetings. He did however have two public outbursts with a CPAC member but she put him in his place both times and it looked good on him. Way to go Vivienne. Behind the scenes he fashioned himself to be a dictatorial tyrant. He brooked no disagreement from CPAC members and the final straw occurred last spring (2012) in a private meeting with them when he threatened to dismiss the entire committee. This did not go well for Mayor Cowan. CPAC were not cowed and went on the offense immediately. He was told in no uncertain terms as to what he was and what he was in for if he attempted such a disgusting stunt. Yours truly got involved and made a phone call to one Woolwich Councillor who did his due diligence. Keep in mind that Mayor Cowan had stated that he would be an interim CPAC Chair only, a year earlier. As a result he resigned as CPAC Chair and Councillor Bauman stepped in as the council representative on CPAC. It was a face saving device that solved CPAC's problem without publicly blowing up the mayor.

There is a moral in all of this. CPAC prevailed and are stronger and tougher. Woolwich Council, with or without all the dirty details, reacted properly. The mayor was removed (resigned???) and Dr. Dan Holt became the new Chair. Here is the irony in all of this. I am still glad that Mayor Cowan defeated Bill Strauss and Pat Mclean in the last election. At this point in time I still think I would support him for a second term depending on who he's running against. That being said he has feet of clay and I will not look the other way nor stay silent when he behaves badly. The public have a right to know and if he thinks otherwise then he'd better get out of politics.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Last Thursday's Elmira Independent carrys the following story "Woolwich to get tough on polluters". Although roadside dumping is a different type of illegal waste disposal then say chemical wastes, nevertheless it is indeed pollution. Woolwich Councillors discussed the problem and possible solutions at the May 7/13 council meeting. One suggestion while cleaning up was to look for correspondence with names on it. Then those names could be published. There was some back and forth on this including a program in Sudbury that sucessfully reduced roadside dumping after publication of names found on letters in the garbage. Councillor Bauman also suggested raising the fines from their current $125 amount. Township staff will look further at the matter and report back to council.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carrys a book review written by Jim Romahn. The title of the book review is "Pollution haunted New Jersey town" and the title of the book written by Dan Fagin is "Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation". Toms River is a New Jersey town that had the swiss giant Ciba decide to build a dye manufacturing plant there in 1949. A little history is in order here. This is the same Ciba referred to as Ciba-Geigy who manufactured pesticides over in Cambridge. They claimed falsely that they had had a single spill of a chemical called Dinoseb on their property. Now known as Novartis they received all the help imaginable from our municipal and local politicians. Lies such as it would take over a century for the pollution to reach the municipal aquifers were given out to the public. It took closer to two years. Lies such as these chemicals could never reach nearby drinking wells were sold to the public by company representatives , M.O.E., and consultants alike.

For those of us living in Elmira does this sound familiar? "From the beginning it (Ciba) planned to dump wastes into the Toms River. It also dumped toxic wastes, some of it in drums, into sandy-soil pits on land it owned around its plant.". This is exactly the modus operandi of Uniroyal Chemical in Elmira. Firstly the Ontario Water Resources Commission (OWRC) and secondly the Ontario Ministry of the Environment were complicit in many of their pollution activities . Eventually with the Toms River case, Ciba and one other (Union Carbide) were found culpable in civil court and paid out undisclosed sums of money to families whose children developed cancers. Here in Elmira requests/demands for a health study of residents have been denied by local authorities.

I have but one criticism of Jim Romahn's book review. Mr. Romahn states "What becomes clear as the lengthy story is told is that there are probably hundreds of other cases around the world where industrial pollution has sickened nearby residents - and nobody has called the polluters to account.". Mr. Romahn understates his case. Far more likely is there are thousands of other cases around the United States alone where people have been poisoned by industrial pollution and the guilty walked away. Look around Waterloo Region or anywhere that has had significant long term industrial activity. Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge have multiple cases of major pollution with little or no accountability. The health effects in the Bishop St. community of Cambridge are horrific and meanwhile the polluter (Northstar) has gone bankrupt while the Directors are currently trying to absolve themselves of liability.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Last Thursday's Elmira Independent has an article titled "Grants available to farmers for environmental projects". The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) administers the Rural Water Quality Program which gives funds out for projects which qualify. These projects include planting trees along watercourses, providing shade and windbreaks etc.. Also projects installing fences along watercourses to keep cattle out will qualify. Improvements in manure storage and milkhouse waste treatment are alos qualifying projects.

The contact person at the GRCA to apply for these grants is Anne Loffler at .The grants vary from 50-100% of the costs depending on the specifics of the project. This is a voluntary program which has been in place since 1998 and is a benefit to the environment.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Yesterday's Elmira Independent has an Editorial by Gail Martin, titled "Chasing money". The focus of the Editorial, of course, is the proposal for an OLG casino, whether in Woolwich or elsewhere in the Region. My interpretation of Gail's attitude towards Mayor Cowan as expressed in this Editorial, would be one of disappointment. Gail states "During the 2010 municipal election campaign, Cowan was one of the candidates who responded to concerns raised by area residents about proposed gravel pits, as well as the Woolwich Bio-En biogas plant. His campaign was almost entirely based on responding to the wishes of residents who were in opposition to these developments.". Gail then goes on to compare this before election behaviour with what he and council are doing today with the casino situation.

In my opinion currently our Mayor has zero support from either of our two local papers. I don't believe that the Independent and Woolwich Observer are often on the same page with local issues but they sure are in regards to our mayor. Whether Editorials, cartoons or articles the Observer have made their disappointment obvious. To my not politically astute mind this does not bode well for his re-election chances. At the same time I noticed that Gail pointedly mentioned that Councillor Mark Bauman was at odds with council over the casino matter. Hmm! Interesting. Again to my not so politically astute mind I think it is past time for our young mayor to start mending fences. I am still conflicted on the matter as I believe he has properly given both Chemtura and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment long overdue kicks in the behind. If he continues his support for a real cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers and of the citizen volunteers on CPAC then he will keep my support. If he falters there or with the proposed gravel pits in Conestogo and West Montrose then he will lose me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Dr. Dan Holt, Chair of CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) wrote a 3 1/2 page dissenting opinion in February 2013 dealing with Chemtura's "sucessful" recent verification by the team representing the community as well as the CIAC (Chemical Inndustry Assoc'n of Canada). I have the word "sucessful" above in quotation marks because I don't want anyone to ever forget that this was a "do over" verification. Chemtura had FAILED the verification; that decision had been communicated to and by the verification team members. What went on between the CIAC abd Chemtura immediately after that, which resulted in another go at it, can only be speculated upon.

I am going to quote verbatim only one small part of Dan's dissenting opinion on his third page namely
" On page 3 of the Responsible Care manual is a listing of the "Responsible Care Ethic & Principles for Sustainability" and the fifth bullet down syates that a company should ...engage with our business partners to ensure the stewardship and security of our products, services and raw materials throughout their life-cycles

I believe that the term "cradle to grave" is used in describing the responsibility of the company for the products they create and manufacture. There are still sources of contamination on the Chemtura property yet the company continues to refuse to properly dispose of them.

I am, along with others, spending volunteer time to work with Chemtura to clean up the mess that both the current employees and community residents have inherited from a time when common practices contaminated our soil, water, and air. Many hurdles have been overcome and life in Elmira today is far better than it was just a few years ago in relation to living in a town with chemical companies. But there are more hurdles to get past. Responsible Care is to be applauded because it has evolved from a public relations effort to encompass a more complete concern for the chemical industry and the communities in which they exist. To that I would suggest that it is still a problem for the industry itself to avoid being judged as a whole by the experiences communities have on a daily basis with one member company. There are vast differences in the way chemical companies interact with communities and to endorse one that is not living up to the standards aspired to by the Responsible Care mandate is to significantly detract from those which do live up to that standard of excellence. There is no way around the fact that verification of a Responsible care company is considered by the public as an endorsement of that company and puts it on an equal basis with all other Responsible Care companies.

The opinions I state in this dissenting vote are mine and are based on the many days I spent touring the facilities at both Elmira and West Hill in July 2011, the teleconference calls with other team members, and the meetings in person in both December, 2012 and February 2013 at the Chemtura plant. But as the Chair of the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee, which is a committee of the Woolwich Township Council and represents the residents of Elmira, I cannot ignore the expressed opinions of those whom I represent in casting this negative vote. To do so would be disrespecting them."

The above is a snapshot into an excellent dissenting opinion written by Dr. Dan Holt. It is honest, specific and from the heart. Chemtura in my opinion did not honestly achieve *Responsible Care verification. Why do I so doubt that they will honestly attempt to live up to its' standards?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


There was an article in the Waterloo Region Record back on April 6, 2013 which I found interesting and surprising. It was titled "Kitchener councillors tussle over bid to take part in environmental assessments". I know that I've often had the belief that municipal councillors are responsible for everything as they are "in the loop" and all reports and data presumably are sent to them. Maybe not so! This article has two major issues the one being a process issue as to whether a councillor can vote one way, hear the final result and then ask for a "do over", change his vote and get a different result.

The second issue was raised by Councillors Janecki and Fernandes. They feel that municipal environmental assessments for things like roads and bridges should be open at the earliest stages for at the very least the ward councillors to attend. That way those councillors can raise issues that their constituents may have brought to them regarding a new project. Apparently this is indeed common practice at the Region of Waterloo as well as for both the city of Cambridge and of Waterloo. Surprisingly the majority of Kitchener councillors voted against this idea, at least on the second attempt that is. Personally I fail to see how Kitchener councillors could make that kind of a decision. Why on earth wouldn't the process be open and available to the elected representatives of the local community that will be affected by the project? That would appear to be only democratic.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Chemtura are currently studying appropriate locations for installing both off-site monitoring and pumping wells. These are in support of their "Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport Model Update" Report dated November 2012. This report, despite Chemtura's claims to the contrary, was in response to both CPAC's and Woolwich Township's vote of no confidence in their twenty plus year "cleanup" plans. This vote of no confidence, as I call it, was actually the CPAC Resolution, later endorsed by Council, produced just over a year ago.

CPAC had produced a couple of pages of questions for Chemtura dealing with the proposed In Situ Chemical Oxidation as well as the tripling of the off-site pumping. To say that Chemtura were reluctant to answer these questions in a public CPAC forum was an understatement and I found it quite unsettling. Jeff Merriman did briefly verbally respond when Ron Campbell of CPAC and myself insisted on a response. In hindsight I now better understand why Jeff and company were reluctant. They are hell bent on promoting their non public, Chemtura chaired and Chemtura invited "technical meetings" on their site versus in Woolwich Council Chambers.

By the way the answers to CPAC's questions do not inspire confidence. One of the biggest questions CPAC had, dealt with all the problems Chemtura have had over the last fourteen years in keeping their off-site pumping at and below their targeted rates. Verbal assurances from Chemtura that now they will be able to maintain pumping levels three times higher, simply aren't worth the paper they aren't written on.

Adding to Chemtura's credibility problems are their ongoing games. This includes "do over" *Responsible Care verifications and their attempts to give credibility to members of the old and discredited CPAC who had supported their inadequate and ridiculous pump and treat "cleanup". Chemtura are playing games and trying to remove this latest cleanup version from public scrutiny, under public control at public CPAC meetings in the Woolwich Council Chambers. Yet they still pretend not to understand why we don't believe them at face value. Try being open and transparent and that doesn't mean hiding behind their partners in pollution, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

Monday, May 13, 2013


In line with Saturday's posting here are a few specific examples of poor science in the Ontario Ministry of the Environment's report titled Canagagigue Creek 2012 Downstream Sampling March 28, 2013. Keep in mind that this report allegedly is comparing Dioxin and DDT results from 1996/97 in both creek sediments and floodplain soils downriver from Chemtura in Elmira. Also keep in mind that the Canagagigue Creek dissects the Uniroyal/Chemtura site from north to south.

Page 5 shows us dioxin results in two locations namely FP 5 & FP6 (floodplain soils). The 2012 results in FP5 have a result as well as a "Duplicate" result and they are reasonably close numerically. This is good science having taken duplicate samples for quality control purposes. The problem is that out of four pages of tables and results, FP5 is the only location where duplicate samples were taken. This includes the two creek sediment locations as well with zero duplicate samples and results presented to us.

Page 6 is one really weird page. It is dioxin results in creek sediments and bad enough that the alleged third location is FP1 ie. floodplain soils, but the reality is that while the third (sort of) location for sediments may be geographically near FP1 it is ridiculous to label it as such. The only thing more ridiculous is then comparing dioxin results in creek sediments from 2012 with dioxin results in the floodplain soil (FP1) from sixteen years earlier. This isn't comparing apples to oranges it's comparing turkeys to airplanes. Duhh!

Further neither in 1996 nor in 2012 is their any attempt to talk about these floodplain soils. Are they silt, are they topsoil, are they clay? Various levels such as 0-10 cm and 10-20 cm depth are mentioned but they appear inconsistent within the two reports. Also a couple of locations in the floodplain and one in the creek sediments in 1996/97 show seasonal variations in the results, namely May versus November. These are significant changes yet there again appears to be no followup with the other sampling locations. I am wondering if the whole assumption of hydrophobic DDT and Dioxins compounds binding strongly to either soil or sediments is so much hokey. Is it possible that each spring the flooding and heavy rain dilutes and washes these compounds downstream to share with the rest of the Grand River watershed? The whole premise of looking at ten floodplain locations in 1996/97 and then "comparing" them to two locations sixteen years later is beyond asinine. It would have had some scientific value if every couple of years they had followed the same protocols and done the same tests at the same locations. What they have done instead is not science it is merely distraction and deflection. No wonder Chemtura were willing to pay for this crap but won't fund CPAC's peer reviews of their and the M.O.E.'s junk science.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Thursday's Elmira Independent carrys this story "Creek sample shows increased DDT levels". Well sort of it does. The "science" behind this study is hopelessly flawed. A grand total of two out of ten floodplain soil samples and one out of three creek sediment samples can even be remotely claimed to be comparable or relevant to the sampling done in 1996 & 1997. That quite frankly is pathetic and exactly what I expected last fall when George Karlos of the M.O.E. refused to share their Work Plan ahead of time with CPAC.

Gail Martin's article captures some of the salient points. Dioxins which cannot be clearly compared to the results from sixteen or seventeen years ago were at very similar concentrations. That being said the requirements/action levels have been lowered since 1997. Also I can't believe that I actually said action levels. I'm not holding my breath on that. DDT was indeed considerably higher at all of one location. With the crappy methodology who knows if the other sites that weren't tested could also be higher.

I am more and more convinced that the M.O.E. have intentionally muddied the waters for the express purpose of muddying the waters. They and Chemtura's credibility has been taking such a shellacking over the last year plus I believe they are desperate to change the station. That desperation showed with the "do over" *Responsible Care verification and it's showing here with the M.O.E.'s fun and games.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Yesterday's Elmira Independent has a thought provoking Editorial titled "Arrogant, or just irresponsible?". While most of the Editorial deals with the provincial liberals and the financial mess they've made around two cancelled gas plants; our local bio-energy plant under construction on Martin's Lane also comes into the picture. Gail Martin points out that it is mostly rural residents who have borne the brunt of the Green Energy Act with communities losing against wind farms and biogas plants. Quoting Gail "In Elmira, the building permit has already been issued for the Woolwich Bio-En plant, in spite of local opposition. But, of course, we're not in Mississauga and Oakville, so our opinions hardly matter.".

I have been advised on a number of occasions that all parties involved from the Township, local citizens and even Woolwich Bio-En were agreeable to a move outside Elmira. The sticking point seemed to be the provincial Ministry of Energy. Gail's Editorial seems to reinforce the idea that our provincial Liberals just aren't that interested in our wishes here in Woolwich. Perhaps they need a strong message sent in the upcoming provincial election.

The Independent also has an article titled "Creek sample shows increased DDT levels" which I will comment on in tomorrow's Advocate.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Today's Waterloo Region Record tells us the inevitable bad news. Asian carp have suceeded in moving from the Mississippi River into the Great lakes and are now moving into the Grand River. The story on today's front page is titled "Alarm raised after Asian grass carp caught in Grand". The fish caught near Dunnville in the Grand River last week was an eighteen kilogram Asian grass carp. This variety apparently doesn't jump out of the water as it's cousins do. There are videos on line showing Asian carp in the U.S. jumping out of the water in droves and landing in boats and on docks etc..

One of the problems with this invasive species is that they reproduce quickly and are able to rapidly squeeze out other species by monopolizing food sources. They have no natural predators due to their large size. The irony is that they were intentionally introduced " North America in the 1970's to control algae in Arkansas aquaculture ponds...". From there due to flooding they spread into the Mississippi River system. For a number of years plans have been debated to halt their northern progress in the Chicago area with gates and electric fences. It certainly seems as if the gate has been closed after the horse has bolted.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Firstly let me clarify yesterday's posting which asked whether the recent World Trade Organization decision rejecting Canada's appeal of a ruling against Ontario for insisting on local content for suppliers to renewable energy contracts could affect Woolwich Bio-En. I was advised last evening that no this ruling is in regards to wind and solar projects not bio-energy ones such as is under construction currently on Martin's Lane in Elmira.

From a distance things may look quiet but apparently to date soil has been moved, conduit laid and some concrete has been poured. Also the excavation for a storm water pond has been completed. Earl Brubacher runs a very calm, sedate and professional meeting and I would describe all participants as conducting themselves accordingly. Gerry Heidiburt did have some concerns around changes in a technical document that appeared to be backing away from a Ministry of the Environment requirement insisting that the flare used to burn off excess biogases have a minimum temperature. The magic number is 850 C and Conestoga Rovers, consultants to Bio-En seemed to feel that temperature was unecessary. Mr. Brubacher explained the background and history in regards to the flare to all assembled. Apparently the vast majority of flares in use whether for landfills, wastewater treatment etc. sucessfully burn off methane gas and more while only monitoring the temperature versus maintaining a minimum. Nevertheless the flare used on Martin's Lane is custom built and capable of indeed maintaining the minimum temperature of 850 C. The actual operating manner including adding natural gas and oxygen to increase the temperature will be up to the M.O.E. not Woolwich Bio-En.

Yours truly asked the question as to whether the Region of Waterloo might approach Woolwich Bio-En to use Biosolids as a fuel in their generation of electricity. Mr. Brubacher certainly gave the impression that this was not on anyone's radar and to date was a non issue. Gerry Heidiburt suggested that Biosolids would not be an optimum fuel and that if so used should not be within many miles of towns or residences.

The next public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday July 9/13 7 pm. presumably again at the Memorial Centre on Snyder Ave..

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "WTO rejects appeal over green energy". According to the World Trade orgaization, Ontario are granting unfair subsidies to local manufacturers. Not only would this be true but that's exactly what the intent of the Ontario legislation was all about.

The Record article focuses on wind and solar projects and the province of Ontario have tried to politically sweeten the energy pot by insisting that renewable energy projects must use local suppliers for their projects. This has helped jobs in Ontario whereas the premiums paid for renewable energy have probably been detrimental to the Ontario economy.

Other renewable enrgy projects would include our local Bio-Energy project here in Elmira. Again in order to receive the lucrative prices for electricity from the province, the promoters have had to follow the rules of the game. Whether or not this most recent ruling and both Canada's and Ontario's response to it will affect our local renewable energy project I do not know. That being said there is a public meeting for Woolwich Bio-En this evening at 7 pm. in the Memorial Centre (Concourse Cafe). It would be a good oportunity to find out.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Canada we were taught in school was the land of hewers of wood and drawers of water. Lumber, furs, mineral wealth were what made this country. In recent decades it has of course been oil including tar sands in Alberta. What I am about to present comes courtesy of last Saturday'w Woolwich Observer. I am going to quote from the Observer a statement provided by the Wellington Water Watchers. "Nestle Waters is the world's largest bottled water company, and Wellington County in southwestern Ontario is home to its largest bottling facility in Canada. Nestle pays $3.71 for every million litres of water it pumps from the local watershed, which it then packages in single-use plastic bottles and sells back to the public for as much as $2 million. In 2010, Nestle paid just $2,238 for over 600 million litres of water taken from Mill Creek in Aberfoyle."

Wow! You have to hand it to corporations. If there is a way to make a buck mostly at someone else's expense (ie. the public) they will find it. Another brief article in Saturday's Observer deals with local gravel pits. Woolwich Township have sent a letter to the province reiterating the Townships concerns about the Ontario Municipal Board process which often accompanies gravel pit applications. It is extremely expensive and onerous even for municipalities much less for individuals and nearby residents. Woolwich Township and other municipalities are paid royalties of pennies per tonne which does not even cover the increased costs of wear and tear on our roads inflicted by gravel trucks. Currently here in Woolwich residents are fighting both the proposed Capitol Pit in West Montrose and the Hunder Pit in Conestogo. The Jigs Hollow Pit outside Winterbourne was scrutinized by local residents who did a professional job in exposing flaws and falsehoods all to no avail. Council let them down although I wonder if it was as much the case of Council saving their pennies to fight the other two proposals at the OMB; feeling that they couldn't afford all three. If I'm wrong and Council don't go to the wall for West Montrose and Conestogo then quite frankly this Council is toast in 2014.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


A former CPAC member who had been assiduously and conspicuously avoiding attending public CPAC meetings has begun attending them on occasion. She had raised an issue in regards to a farm pond downgradient of the Chemtura site and specifically downgradient of the proposed scraping and capping of GP1 and GP2. Her issue was a concern that maps appeared to show an overland flow path from the GP1 and GP2 area directly towards this farm pond which was used as a swimming pond. As these two Chemtura areas are badly contaminated with DDT and dioxins and more; her concerns certainly need to be addressed. The fellow from the M.O.E. who presented the results of the Downstream Monitoring Report mentioned that there were no sediments in the bottom of the pond due to a geotextile membrane that was installed. I asked him a couple of questions about the permeability of this geotextile. In other words was its' purpose to be a waterproof liner hence keeping groundwater out or was it simply to keep mud and plant growth off the bottom and sides of the pond. He had absolutely no idea. He was able to suggest that berms around the top of the pond definitely would prevent overland flow of water from entering. The former CPAC member asked for and mostly received assurances that the M.O.E. would consider testing of this bermed soil for Chemtura contaminants. I still am a little concerned about contaminated groundwater infiltrating this pond and hope the M.O.E. consider testing for that as well.

Friday, May 3, 2013


It was calm and quiet. CPAC were missing their regular Chair Dr. Dan who has been attending his first grandchild, south of the border. Also Sebastian had advised that he could not make it and Councillor Bauman had to leave early for another engagement. Therefore the load fell upon Vivienne to hold the fort as temporary Chair in the absence of Dan, Sebastian and later Mark. She did an admirable job and with help from Ron Campbell (CPAC) and Graham Chevreau and myself (SWAT) we held Chemtura/CRA/M.O.E.'s feet to the fire. That being said none of us had our hearts into really, appropriately laying the lumber upon the three previously mentioned guilty parties. Call it pity or even mercy if you will.

First off the M.O.E. earned the ire of Chair Viv by once again asking to defer an Agenda item. This was the Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport Model Update that was handed out six months ago by Conestoga Rovers on behalf of Chemtura. The M.O.E. were supposed to give their comments on this groundbreaking turnaround by Chemtura which includes off-site source removal by chemical oxidation as well as tripling of the off-site pumping rates. Then the M.O.E. presented their recent Downstream Monitoring report. This allegedly is a comparison and update to studies done in 1996 and 1997 which found large quantities of DDT and Dioxins in the downstream Canagagigue Creek courtesy of Uniroyal/Chemtura. This report is riddled with errors and poor science and quite frankly is embarassingly, amateurishly written. Jeff of Chemtura took a couple of shots at the M.O.E. presenter as did I but again it would have been like shooting fish in a barrel to really go after him. Also as Chair Viv pointed out there will be additional new information upcoming and hence this report will be rescheduled hopefully on the Thursday May 30/13 Agenda.

Alan Deal of CRA (Conestoga Rovers) once again presented the Annual Monitoring Report. They say you can get used to anything but I was pleased after the meeting to hear even new SWAT and recent CPAC members express exasperation with the presentation. The polite comment was that it was a cheerleading type presentation and the rude comment was it was nothing but a dog and pony show. Yours truly questioned CRA and Chemtura about their removal of a total of 1300 tonnes of contaminated soil during 2011 and 2012. This removal was ostensibly to provide underground servicing for utilities of some sort. The interesting part was that the location was exactly where Uniroyal refused to excavate free phase DNAPL in December 1993 namely along the border of TPW2 and M2 the former municipal landfill. Last night Jeff of Chemtura adamantly declared that he couldn't remember the details of 1993 regarding free phase DNAPL versus relatively immobile tars which are DNAPLS by the way. I did remember but did some checking this morning anyways. In the August 2007 DNAPL Investigation Report we are advised that as recently as then, free phase LNAPL and free phase DNAPL was occasionally showing up in well OW80-5 in tar pit west (TPW2). My impression is that either Chemtura finally removed this free phase DNAPL twenty years after the fact; although they don't want to admit it, or the DNAPL over the last twenty years has continued to move either vertically or laterally and they couldn't find it. Nice!

Literally months after the fact, Dwight of Chemtura handed out the CIAC *Responsible Care verification report. This report includes Dr. Dan Holt's dissenting opinion and is accurate and specific pointing out particular codes and sections that Chemtura have not been in compliance with. Fellow verification team member and former councillor and CPAC Chair Pat McLean, not to be outdone or upstaged by the current CPAC Chair, added her written reasons for accepting Chemtura's sucessful verification. Her reasons were not specific or credible and merely made excuses for Chemtura's "past history".

All in all it was a fairly tame affair last night. I expect a few more fireworks at the May 30 meeting dealing with the Downstream Monitoring report as well as one specific overhead table that CRA presented during their Annual Monitoring Report .

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "More Tory MPs say no to attacks on Trudeau". The majority of this story is political while at the same time clearly indicating that there are numerous Conservative backbenchers who have both spine and ethics. The relevance of this article to the Elmira Advocate is all in the very last sentence namely "Rathgeber, one of the most outspoken MPs, says he has resisted attempts by staff at the Prime Minister's Office to vet the content of his personal blog.". Wow! Aside from the brass and arrogance of the PMO attempting to control a backbencher's blog is the personal significance this has for me. In my case I have been to date stymied in attempts to rejoin CPAC formally by our Woolwich Township Mayor and CAO. The word has been passed to me that the only thing standing in the way of my rejoining CPAC is this blog, the Elmira Advocate.

I've had this blog ongoing six days a week for three years now. It predates the current Woolwich Council by about six months and it's readership has been growing steadily. Faithful readers include numerous universities and colleges as well as different government organizations. Environment Canada and the EPA are on occasionally as are different consulting and engineering companies. Private citizens throughout Waterloo Region, Guelph and Toronto also follow the Advocate. The issues that I write on tend to be environmental with the focus on Woolwich Township. That said they also sometimes include regional environmental issues such as Biosolids and contaminated sites (Northstar, Breithaupt Tannery) that have lessons in common with our contaminated sites in Woolwich.

Bio-En, numerous gravel pits, wind farms, emerald ash borer and other invasive plants and animals are also discussed here. Unfortunately it appears as if Woolwich Township have extremely thin skin. I don't for a second attribute this to the entire Council, only one or two. I have criticized the Council's decision (non-unanimous) on allowing recycling back into the Jigs Hollow Pit (Kuntz). I have also criticized Council over the approval of Bio-En on Martin's Lane in Elmira. At the same time I have applauded serious attempts, that have proven unsucessful, to relocate this facility to a location farther from citizens' homes.

As with any blog there are comments from the public and many are anonymous. Many of these have been highly critical of our Mayor and Council and those that I believe are wide of the mark I will disagree with. The few that are distasteful, profane or simply unduly nasty I have deleted. Apparently all of this is unacceptable to the Mayor and at least one of his advisers. They think that they can blackmail me into dropping this blog. I find their attitude reprehensible and that is why I am going public with it. I have seriously attempted to rejoin CPAC via discreet, polite and proper channels and all I've received back from the Township is paranoid, petty behaviour.

The M.O.E. and Chemtura don't want me to have the status and appearance of township approval. I believe that to date CPAC members have mostly not been aware of the backdoor meddling by the Mayor in CPAC's membership discussions. If CPAC independently don't want me as a member then I would respect that and this need go no further. If CPAC however would like me as a formal member, then quite frankly the M.O.E., Chemtura and the Mayor should all butt out.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Currently there is an ongoing Appeal of a Control Order issued by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment on the Directors of Northstar Aerospace. Basically the Directors are trying to get out of their responsibility to maintain ongoing pump and treat operations at the Bishop St. site in Cambridge. I was sent an M.O.E. issues list yesterday which may have upcoming hearing dates on it but so far I can't open the darn thing.

Tomorrow evening of course is the monthly Chemtura Public Advisory Committee meeting held in Woolwich Council Chambers at 6 pm..

Tuesday May 7/13 is the next public meeting of Woolwich Bio-En. It's being held at the Memorial Centre (arena) on Snyder Ave. in the Concourse Cafe at 7 pm..

There will be a public CPAC orientation/education meeting in Woolwich Council Chambers on May 21/13 at 9 am..

The usual last Thursday of the month is CPAC time again therefore Thursday May 30/13 in Woolwich Council Chambers. Tomorrow nites CPAC is due to scheduling conflicts that it couldn't be held last Thursday.

I will also throw in here the likely June CPAC meeting of Thursday June 27/13, 6 pm. .

The Hunder Pit Ontario Municipal Board hearing is scheduled for September. I had heard September 3 suggested a long time ago but can't confirm that. I am appalled to say that I have no upcoming dates for the proposed Capitol Pit in West Montrose. It is truly ridiculous how long these stupid proposals are allowed to drag on without resolution.