Thursday, October 31, 2013


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


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

Monday, October 28, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

And the pretend cleanup continues.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


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

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

Friday, October 25, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Tuesday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Scientists speak out in poll". The poll was commissioned by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. It's results clearly show that the federal government have clamped down on their scientists speaking publicly about their findings. These scientists include those in Health Canada, National Defence, Fisheries and Oceans, Agriculture Canada, Natural Resources and Environment Canada.
Apparently the Federal Information Commissioner is also concerned about what is going on. "Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is conducting a study of how changes in communications policy under the harper government have clamped down on the sharing of government science with the public.".

Clearly governments with nothing to hide do not clamp down on research and science paid for by the taxpaying public. It makes it extraordinarily difficult to trust a government hell bent on natural resource extraction and development; when they advise that they are monitoring associated environmental concerns. How about sharing these reports with concerned citizens, taxpayers and voters.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


This is the fourth and last having exhausted the list of chemical compounds in Table B.1 of Chemtura (Elmira) 2012 Annual Environmental Report. Keep in mind this complete list of chemicals are not in use every day/every week etc.. Their production is done in batches and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if some of these chemicals were only used a couple of times a year. The point of these postings is to give the municipalities and their citizens a reference point as to what could be going through their backyards/frontyards by rail or by truck. To date our authorities; whether rail, municipal, regional or provincial have been far less than forthcoming with this information.

Process Oil (Shellflex 210)
Silica, Crystalline (Quartz)
Sodium Alkylnapthalenesulfonate
Sodium Hydroxide
Sodium polymethyacrylate
Sulpher Dioxide
Sulphuric Acid Disodium Salt
Toluene Diisocyanate (TDI)
Trichloroethylene (TCE)
Xanthan Gum

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Again this posting is a continuation of yesterday's and Saturday's indicating the names of chemicals used in Chemtura processes in Elmira, Ontario.

Methanesulfonic Acid
Methyl Ethyl ketone (MEK)
Methyl Ethyl Ketoxime
Methyl Isobutyl Ketone (MIBK)
Methyl-oxirane polymer with oxirane
Methyl Styrene
Other Diisocyanates (MDI, TODI)
Polyether Triol
Propylene Glycol
Propylene Tetramer
GE-Propylene glycol methyl ether acetate (PGMEA)

We are now up to about 3/4 of Table B.1 in Chemtura's 2012 Annual Environmental Report. At CPAC we had been advised of three chemicals being shipped by rail only. As I've never seen their helicopter shipments of raw materials nor have I seen or heard their hovercraft going up and down the Canagagigue Creek; it is my suspicion that there may have been a tad bit of creative factual fictions going on.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Saturday I posted approximately half of the names of Chemical compounds Chemtura use in their processes and hence logically ship in or out of their Elmira plant. Here's the continuation:

Ethylene Glycol
Fuller's Earth
Hydrated Amorphous Silica
Hydrogen Bromide
Hydrogen Chloride
Hydrogen Sulphide
Isopropyl Alcohol
Lignosulphonic Acid
Lindane ???
Magnesium Oxide
Mesityl Oxide

This gets us to about the half way mark in Table B.1 in Chemtura's 2012 Annual Environmental Report.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Months have passed since I and a colleague sent pages of chemical names to municipal authorities in Kitchener and Waterloo to enlighten them as to what chemicals are being used by Chemtura in Elmira, Ontario. They are found in Table B.1 of the 2012 Annual Environmental Report for Chemtura Canada, Elmira, Ontario. This report was released by Chemtura's consultants in May 2013. The title of Table B.1 is " Summary of Published Odour Threshold Values For Compounds Used In Chemtura Processes". Today I will begin to release the names of these chemicals "...used in Chemtura Processes" in Elmira.
Most of these can be checked for characteristics including toxicity simply by Googling their names.

Hydrogen Chloride
1,3 Butanediol
1,4 Butanediol
Carbon Dioxide
Carbon Monoxide
1,2 Dichlorobenzene
1,4 Dichlorobenzene
Disodium Phosphate Anhydrous
Ethyl Bromide

The purpose of today's posting is to advise both the public and our authorities who are responsible to us that we the people have the right to know and we expect transparency on what is being shipped through our neighbourhoods whether by truck or train. This is approximately one quarter of Table B.1 .

Friday, October 18, 2013


Most probably Woolwich Township are hiding exactly what every other level of government are hiding and that is the level of danger to citizens from hazardous rail cargoes going through their neighbourhoods. Today's Woolwich Observer (not on-line yet) carry this story "Woolwich to draft resolution to address rail safety concerns". Once again white knight Mark Bauman comes riding to the rescue of Chemtura here in Elmira. While the rail line through Elmira is on the east side of town and not close to residences until right at the Chemtura plant; the same is not true in St. Jacobs. This is what may actually be bothering Mark. His constituents are in St. Jacobs and more there are in danger from a localized spill than in Elmira, depending upon wind direction.

Very strange that Woolwich Township while knowingly dealing with a routinely intransigent and uncommunicative company with a history of use and abuse of toxic chemicals; feel that greater transparency is not required. Unlike Sulco (CCC) who have a vastly improved reputation through their actions; Chemtura are still long on talk and short on action in owning up to their local toxic legacy. Councillor Bauman is deflecting attention away from St. Jacobs and Elmira and suggesting that the Breslau area needs attention. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't but this I can tell you: Chemtura's list of what they ship is nonsense. I've seen a list of about three chemicals namely diphenylamine, ammonia and one other "confidential" material. They ship by truck and by train and the list of their raw materials and finished products is in the hundreds. Three chemicals: please give me a break. As far as Mark Bauman's quote "I really don't have a lot of concern", I hope he doesn't have to eat those words down the line.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Biologists patrol the Grand to block Asian carp". These biologists working for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) are attempting to scare the Asian carp into gill nets placed in the Grand River down near the mouth at Dunnville. Knowing the size of the Grand River at its' mouth I'm a little skeptical that they are going to do much more than perhaps catch a representative sample or two. The other hope is that dams along the Grand River may also impede the spread of Asian carp.

As recently as a year ago the hope was to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes by stopping the spread from the Mississippi River basin. This included canals in the Chicago area. At this point in time two fish have been caught in the Grand River alone which makes it clear that they have made their way into the Great lakes. Perhaps it's a case of too little too late. These carp are but one more example of invasive species taking up residence in Canada.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


First off this report is being posted much later than usual. Apologies. With both the recently reduced pumping rate at W4 and the long ago reduced pumping rates at W5A & B; I can say that both the on and off-site pumping rates are back on track. Do keep in mind however that W4's target has been reduced from 11.4 to 3.5 litres per second. While there are some promises from a year ago still in the wind to triple the off-site pumping; the reality is that it has been reduced.
Oddly Conestoga Rovers didn't adjust their Figure A.3 to reflect the new lower W4 pumping rate. I did point this out to Chemtura at last months public CPAC meeting.

Appendix B relates to MISA (municipal industrial strategy for abatement) data. While it has a fancy name it's basically simply monitoring surface water combined with infiltrated groundwater discharges into the Canagagigue Creek. Distressing to me is the lack of steady reductions in various chemicals and chemical parameters indicating contamination. Lindane is an example of a chemical they haven't used for years yet its' concentrations at MISA 400 are not decreasing.

The only other issue I see is the ongoing discharges of ammonia and nitrosomorpholine into the Canagagigue Creek. While these are being kept below the requirements they are above the effluent objectives. These measured discharges along with all the unmeasured ones from the site limit any improvements in the "Gigs" quality.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


The Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) will be holding an Orientation/Education meeting next Monday at 9 am.. Their monthly public evening meeting will be held next Thursday, October 24/13 in Woolwich Council Chambers at 6 pm.. While the Agenda has not been set as yet I would expect there to be some discussion around Chemtura's attempts to avoid using In-Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) on two off-site ares west of their site. To date their rationale for this is just below pathetic however they have held a private, by invitation only meeting with certain stakeholders, in order to sell it.

Of interest to me is that they are suggesting moving southwards to the CH38 (Oriole Parkway) and the W3 area (MacDonald's) as an alternate location for ISCO. This may well be simply another feint in their long term delaying plan. I'm wondering at what point in time they will transfer their ISCO interest to the old water tower behind the former Varnicolor Chemical on Union St.. This is another appropriate off-site area which clearly needs more effort and results than what off-site pump and treat has done over the last fifteen years.

I sent an e-mail this morning to CPAC and SWAT members advising them of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment's (M.O.E.) latest gamesmanship. Apparently the M.O.E. in their latest bout of stupidity believe that they can verbally present technical data on DDT and Dioxins downstream in the Canagagigue Creek, below Chemtura, without providing hard copy to CPAC. CPAC historically have had to work with their hands tied behind their backs and local politicians, polluters and alleged regulaters (M.O.E.) have preferred it that way. This however is going way beyond the pale.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Last Wednesday evening over in Guelph, I listened to Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians) speak among other things, about her latest book. This book titled "Blue Future" is the final book in a trilogy with the first two titled "Blue Gold" and "Blue Covenant". I'm barely into the first Chapter and I'm finding it extremely interesting as it delves into the reasons and history behind this desperate need to realize that water is a basic, essential human right.

The book is broken into Four Principles with several chapters for each. These Principles are "Water is a human right", "Water is a common heritage", "Water has rights too", "Water can teach us how to live together". If this book is as interesting and informative throughout as it is so far then I expect that I will eventually read the first two books as well.

Maude spoke about a world wide corporate attempt to obtain legal right to the world's water. Here in Canada and even just a few miles down the road we have already entered the battle. Yesterday's posting on Nestle is but the tip of the iceburg. Currently and historically all waters in Canada have been public water. Whether rivers, lakes or streams; surface water has been owned by all of us. Groundwater has also been held appropriately in public ownership. Municipalities may develop wellfields and distribute water but it is owned by the public. Yes we pay for treating the water and sending it from the wellfields to our homes but if we don't like how the Region or municipalities handle our water we can vote them out of office.

Keep in mind that corporations can not unilaterally "buy" or steal our mutual water. They need the direct assistance of governments at all levels. Governments contrary to popular expectations are not there for the benefit of the majority whatsoever. They are in place as a buffer between potentially outraged citizens and the elites who wish to continue and increase their personal wealth and power. Governments can and do give legitimacy through ridiculous legislation to the slow selling of a country's resources and independence. This governmental selling out of a country's citizen owned resources must be thwarted. Water is life itself and why would we voluntarily hand over this power to a very few? Our governments have and will sell out for their personal long term gain and we as citizens must be vigilant. How would Woolwich Township citizens have felt twenty-four years ago about dealing with an off-shore based multinational corporation when their water was contaminated? Believe me it was difficult enough when the cause of the water destruction was a multi national corporation but at least our Regional and municipal politicians had the good sense to respond quickly and aggressively and took immediate responsibility to replace our water supply. Can you imagine a for profit corporation advising that they'd have to wait for the next quarter as it wasn't in this quarter's budget to do emergency repairs?

Friday, October 11, 2013


Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Nestle accepts restrictions on water supply". At the same time Ecojustice out of Toronto also put out a media release praising the Wellington Water Watchers and the Council of Canadians for their fight to keep water extraction restrictions on Nestle during periods of drought.

Nestle cut a deal with the Ontario M.O.E. to remove restrictions on their pumping of groundwater in Hillsburgh, Ontario. These restrictions had originally been incorporated into their Permit to take Water and they had appealed to the provincial Environmental Review Tribunal. After the deal was struck however the Wellington Water Watchers, Council for Canadians and Ecojustice all went to the ERT and appealed the deal between Nestle and the M.O.E. as not being in the public interest. The ERT agreed and ordered a full hearing upon which Nestle then withdrew their original appeal.

The final result is that Nestle who currently pump in excess of a million litres of groundwater a day from Hillsburgh are now subject to pumping cutbacks during drought periods. It is basic hydrogeology 101 that dry spells and droughts while immediately affecting shallow aquifers also stop the recharging effect of these shallower aquifers to the deeper municipal aquifers. Just as all Waterloo Region are under water restrictions during the drier summer months to maintain essential water supplies for all citizens; it too is appropriate for corporations to share the pain.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Well as my friend Dr. Henry Regier likes to say "The designated deniers are at it again.". It was relatively small, the river was flowing fast and heavy rains helped dilute the sewage. 860,000 litres of raw, totally untreated sewage went into the Grand River. As serious as that is, what I find so scary is that isn't considered a big deal by our regional authorities. In fact from January to November 2012, 2 million litres of sewage from the entire Region went into the Grand river from spills and bypasses.

Yes there was a storm and yes the power went out repeatedly. We can put men on the moon but we haven't found a way around keeping backup generaters and pumps going when there are repeated power failures? This is global warming folks. This is the future right now. More violent storms, heavy rain and power outages. What I find so frustrating is that Regional Council (& the province) can find hundreds of millions of dollars for LRT trains but have no problem with delays in upgrading our municipal water and sewage infrastructure. This pumping station is scheduled for upgrades including emergency sewage storage for 2014 and 2015.

Getting back to the alleged lack of damage done to the Grand River due to heavy flows; I wonder how Colonial Creek fared. The raw sewage hit it first and from there flowed into the Grand. Last November 26/12 I posted here in the Advocate about a number of other spills and bypasses into the Grand River. This is also the reality of neverending population growth and I'm not talking just about births versus deaths. The world is overpopulated and spreading that problem into towns and cities here gives us predictable results. When all the costs are taken into account, including massive infrastructure updates continually being required, the results are not pretty. Even treated sewage is not good for the Grand or any other water receiving body much less raw sewage. If our federal governments insist on flooding the country with new immigrants during lean times as well as good; then at least ensure that lower tiers of government are keeping up to date with water, sewage, garbage and other vital infrastructure.

Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record has this story "Sewage spill was "relatively small".

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


The following comments while focused on sixteen days of OMB hearings nevertheless will also incorporate some past history and experiences dealing with a few of the aspects arising from this hearing just completed in Elmira, Ontario. Regarding legal aspects it has been made clear that the overiding legislation is the provincial Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) and the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). All other municipal by-laws, Official Plans and Official Plan Amendments (OPA) are secondary. That being said the proponent however must be flexible and responsive to municipal and or neighbourhood concerns. This responsiveness may well include hiring consultants and experts in the following fields of noise, dust, visual aspects, traffic, soil rehabilatation, hydrogeological and environmental. If the proponent has done the required studies and responded to reasonable concerns expressed, by the use of numerous mitigating methods, then he is most probably going to win at an OMB hearing. That has been the history in Ontario of gravel pits going to the OMB for adjudication. In my opinion the Hunder proponents crossed their t's and dotted their i's. They spent the money, hired the experts and seriously jumped through the hoops and loops presented over a period of years. This opinion is coming from a non lawyer and a non Judge however on a strictly legal basis and despite the impressive case put forward by both Woolwich Township and the CWRA (Conestoga Winterbourne Residents Assoc'n.) I strongly suspect that the Chair (Ms. Shilling) will find in favour of the proponent. The case by the opponents was sincere and they do have legitimate worries about "unacceptable impacts" regarding noise, traffic, visual impacts and agricultural rehabilatation.

Ethical aspects are a whole lot different. Ethically I am appalled by the whole process. It is grossly biased against all parties. It is slow, cumbersome and ridiculously expensive. Someone in the provincial government has made an almost bulletproof legislation in the ARA and then advised both sides in a dispute to duke it out to their last dollar and breath. As far as biased the legislation is intentionally biased against the opponents. Subjective and difficult to prove issues are given short shrift or none at all. Quality of life issues had to be put down into decibels and viewscapes. They were very subjective regardless and one persons horror regarding noise or views literally is of little consequence to another. Regarding decreases in property values for surrounding homes they simply weren't even on the distant skyline. Clearly the legislation does not care or concern itself with that matter. Residents are left to suffer their losses. Regarding the proponent it should also be mentioned that he/she are given assurances that the legislation and provincial intent are on their side. Go through the process, respond appropriately, pay a huge amount to experts, consultants and lawyers and you are home free. But what if your pit is one of the very few that fails? This also is not fair. As homeowners should be financially compensated for their losses (home value/quality of life) so should a proponent who has been encouraged at every turn to proceed. I was appalled at the dollar value I was advised had been spent to get this proposed gravel pit to market.

Political aspects are the most difficult. It is very difficult to judge motives. I have in months and maybe years past posted here that Woolwich Council were up against it with this Application. Promises had been made to residents to keep a Bio-Energy plant out of Elmira that failed. The Jigs Hollow Pit turnaround was breathtaking especially in regards to Recycling of concrete and asphalt being permitted. I stated that Council's credibility and hopes in the upcoming election next year rode on their digging in their heels with both the proposed West Montrose Pit (Capitol) and the Hunder Pit. Well the reality is that they did dig in their heels. So why am I feeling uneasy? Councillor Bryant true to her word supported the citizens against the Hunder Pit. She spent many, many hours at the hearing. Mayor Cowan made a token appearance on the last day. Clearly a majority of Council favoured taking this to the OMB and trying to stop it, hopefully for the benefit of their constituents. Did Councillor Bauman also support spending taxpayers money to try and stop the Hunder Pit? If so that flys in the face of his numerous in Council words that he doesn't favour spending taxpayer money on lawyers. Did our local Council actually, sincerely go to bat for the larger number of citizens opposed to this proposal or did they go to bat for the larger number of votes in the issue? Provincial politics are a different matter. It is my opinion that decades of lobbying by the gravel industry have long ago bought them the influence and power they want at everyone else's expense.

Permitting this gravel pit was never right at this location; but this late in the game, neither is outright denial. There has been a review this past spring and summer of the ARA but the results have not been made public yet. A major overhaul is required not mere cosmetics. Basically the provincial politicians have long ago sold out to gravel interests and they are trying to cover their tracks. They are pitting citizens against citizens and pretending that there is an honest, legitmate process set up to sort out conflicting interests. Provincial politicians aren't willing to advertise to the public that their property rights have been sold out to a higher bidder. They aren't willing to tell citizens and voters that they are in the pockets of wealthy elites when it is so much easier to pretend otherwise. The process is all smoke and mirrors.


The Chair as expected is reserving her Decision. This morning I will be relating yesterday's final Argument by the three lawyers for the parties namely Mr. Pickfield (Hunder), Ms. Costello (Woolwich) and Mr. Paton (Conestoga Winterbourne Residents Assoc'n). It should be noted that the room was filled with over sixty citizens present.

Mr. Pickfield emphasized the reasonableness and responsiveness of the proponent. He stated that municipal standards could not conflict with the Provincial Policy Statement which states that municipalities must protect and make available aggregate resources. Municipal standards must be clear and objective , not ill defined. They must be attainable and not a prohibition in disguise. Mr. Pickfield suggested that the Township's noise expert, Mr Emeljanow, first suggested his basic flaw theory in the spring of 2013. This flaw allegedly was the lack of ambient (background) monitoring.

Ms. Costello advised that currently there are 17 active gravel pits in Woolwich Township with five recent Applications. Three have been approved by the Township, one withdrawn and the Hunder Pit opposed. She believes that this location is a fundamental mismatch with current land uses as it would be in the middle of three existing communities. Further she stated that there were no substantive changes by the Applicant, only cosmetic ones. Woolwich Council, her client, feel that this pit is not in the long term public interest. Further the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) states it must be an Interim use not an indeterminate use of the land. Ms. Costello also focused on Recycling (concrete & asphalt) as being a separate, ancillary, industrial use which the Township does not automatically approve.

Mr. Paton suggested that if approved his clients would prefer if Phases 2 & 3, south of Hunsberger Road were excluded. He stated that the highest possible standards of rehabillatation were required not just the industry norm. He also stated that coordination of operations between the Jigs Hollow Pit and the Hunder Pit was unrealistic and not possible. He pointed out the historic lack of enforcement by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) as well as the fact that aggregate was not originally identified on the Hunder/Snyder property prior to the Golf Course Rd. subdivision. Finally Mr. Paton advised that the OMB in the past has refused to approve a License to a pit prior to an Operator of the pit being identified.

There were questions by the Chair to Ms. Costello as she had provided a written response to the Chair's question last week regarding the effects of the Township not renewing the three year zoning by-law permitting Recycling on the site. All parties eventually seemed to agree that the Minister (MNR) would be bound by the Township's decision on that matter (Recycling) alone.

I have put together four very interesting Terms/Conditions that various opponents to the pit have suggested. They are:

1) Sunset Clause
2) exclude 2 phases south of Hunsberger Rd.
3) operator named prior to a License approval
4) Recycling excluded

It is all in the hands of the Chair, Ms. Schiller, right now. She can approve as is, refuse as is or approve with new conditions such as the above. In the next day or two I will comment on my overall impression of the legal, ethical, political, environmental and social aspects of this my first OMB hearing.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Last Thursday's Waterloo Region Record carried this story "$7.3-million price tag for brownfield plan panned". My objections have been consistent whether it's a tax incentive plan in Cambridge, Kitchener or Waterloo. First off why are huge numbers of contaminated properties legally allowed to be abandoned? How many politicians and lawmakers got paid off in the first place to permit once thriving corporations to close shop and not clean up behind themselves? The taxpayers should not be subsidizing former private profits. Secondly are we as a society completely nuts? Quoting this article "It's estimated there are at least 24 contaminated properties throughout the city, mostly uptown and in old industrial areas along the rail line.". At least 24 properties that have never been addressed from a public health standpoint. Do we really believe that industrial contamination is either contained or naturally stationery? Toxins from oils, fuels and solvents can move to neighbouring properties through groundwater flow, gravity flow for DNAPLS and even by vapour movement through the subsurface. These same toxins can and do leach into nearby surface water bodies as well as simply discharging into the air.

The longer these sites remain unremediated the farther the contamination will spread and negatively affect our environment. The third point is the actual quality of the cleanup. What incentive does a developer have to do more than the absolute bare minimum? I believe that each and every one of these sites should have their before and after environmental status out there in the public light. Was there a pump and treat system installed which quickly lowered groundwater concentrations nearby and then they rebounded back to where they were; or was there actual source removal of liquid and solid contamination? Twenty years from now will we suddenly discover that occupants of these so called redeveloped sites are sick and dying from wholly predictable vapour intrusion that could have been avoided with a serious cleanup.

Monday, October 7, 2013


What incentive is there for technical consultants to write quality technical reports that would withstand the scrutiny of other experts and their peers? That is both the question and the problem. There is no incentive. Conestoga Rovers are paid for each and every word they put in their reports by their clients, in this case Chemtura Canada of Elmira, Ontario. There is no peer review as with proper scientific reports. For a hydrogeological report for eaxample to be peer reviewed it takes an individual or a group with money to hire another consulting engineering firm with expertise in the field to do the work. Past Woolwich Councils did spend some money on an allegedly independent hydrogeologist. The results for the money were mixed. Good insights and comments would be quickly retreated from when CRA and the M.O.E. either attacked the position expressed or bluntly just said no to suggestions and recommendations. Hence mixed results.

Currently the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) are requesting funding from Chemtura to pay for peer reviews. While it is appropriate that the destroyer of Elmira's groundwater and so much more should pay for peer reviews; it isn't likely to happen. Why should it? Their consultants CRA have free rein. They can write the most ridiculous, amateurish and riddled with errors bullshit imaginable and who's to dispute it? There's the rub. I can and I do. Most times Chemtura and CRA do their best to pretend serious, written criticisms don't exist. As however I am both a very knowledgable and informed member of the public and I am a member of CPAC's sub-committee known as SWAT; it occasionally is impossible for them to ignore my critiques. Then they have their hired guns (CRA) simply write up another nonsensical, error riddled report.

Currently Chemtura appear to be reneging on their promise of a year ago to improve their pretend off-site cleanup. After severe criticism from CPAC's Resolution of a year and a half ago, they decided to triple off-site pumping and do some off-site source removal via In-Situ Chemical Oxidation. Now we are being treated to CRA's latest written drivel suggesting that the two chosen and appropriate off-site locations for source removal are not tenable. Maybe they are and maybe they aren't; but to date CRA's written rationale is illogical and filled with errors. To add to that Chemtura don't even want to discuss/debate it in the appropriate forum namely public CPAC meetings. Instead they've held a private by invitation meeting only and specifically even banned the local media. CPAC were invited to send a pair of representatives. This is a company used to getting their own way and writing their own rules. The result is they have destroyed our local drinking water and gotten away with it.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Yesterday was a very short day and it dealt with Reply witnesses and Argument first as to which Reply witnesses were appropriate and which were not. After the smoke cleared Mr. Pickfield on behalf of the Hunder proposal was not permitted to reexamine Mr. Gastmeyer as the Chair concluded that Mr. Emeljanows testimony on behalf of the Township did not open new ground to which Hunder and their consultant (Mr. Gastmeyer) needed to reply.

On the other hand Mr. Cisco, a planner, was reexamined in order to respond to evidence of Mr. Kennallys on behalf of Woolwich Township. In essence Mr. Cisco advised the Chair (OMB) that he could agree to greater noise control over the development by the Township as well as to further notes on the site plans dealing with importation of recycling materials. Finally Mr. Cisco on behalf of the proponent also agreed to marking certain tonnage limits in the site plan notes. The one item he categorically did not agree with was any form of Sunset Clause otherwise known as a hard deadline for the duration of the gravel pit operation.

It is my understanding that we are finished with all witnesses and all that's left is Argument/Summation. That will begin on Tuesday October 8, 2013 at 10 am..

It's not over till it's over however I have an opinion as to which way it will go. I also have an opinion in regards to the process in its' entirety and what it is supposed to be accomplishing versus the reality. These opinions I will withhold until the Hearing is entirely completed which I think will be at the end of Tuesday.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Yesterday's Elmira Independent has the following story "High levels of DDT "a cause for concern"" as well as an Editorial by Gail Martin titled "Serving as a watchdog". Gail's Editorial points out that CPAC can take credit for requesting downstream testing in the Canagagigue Creek to determine if there are still Dioxin and DDT issues impacting the environment.

Her story also indicates that a second round of testing has occurred this spring which also points out DDT at levels high enough to adversely effect benthic organisms such as midges, chironomids and other small critters living in the sediments. At this point in time a more comprehensive study is being suggested to get to the bottom of things. Of course this enhanced study could have and should have been done the first time around but the M.O.E. are long on talk and inaction and very short on actually taking informed and intelligent advice. Afterall it's not their money; it's ours.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Dr. Heck (sp.??) was on the stand at the start of the day being further examined by Mr. Paton on behalf of the CWRA. Dr. Heck added that even the subsoil below the topsoil requires cracks and fracturing to allow excess water to drain. He further advised that the current soils quality should be the target versus simply "maximizing" soil rehabillatation. As I understood him there is a problem with early progressive rehabillatation in that once done; if the water table rises then at that point it's too late to raise the pit floor and rehabillatated soils above it. He also expressed concerns with the amount of compaction that occurs. Although there will be ripping applied to the pit floor prior to adding soils, Dr. Heck would like greater details as to how much ripping, how much criss-crossing etc.. He also believes that it is inevitable that subsoils will be mixed with topsoils thus degrading the topsoils significantly.

Mr. Pickfield cross-examined Dr. Heck with reasonable sucess. He pointed out that while Dr. Heck is certainly an expert and authority on soils, that his gravel pit experience was very limited. Mr. Pickfield also pointed out the prior testimony of a hydrogeologist who stated that at most the water table would only rise from it's current high water mark to .1 to .3 metre higher. Dr. Heck was not impressed with that evidence suggesting that any rise would undermine all the assumptions and rehab plans to date. Dr. Heck and Mr. Pickfield got a little bit testy during the cross-exam but that simply may have been misunderstandings in word definitions and or differences in style.

The Chair, Ms Schiller also asked Dr. Heck a few questions to clarify an earlier reference to 100 cm. above either the Bedrock or perhaps in relation to a thickness of a geological unit.

Mr. Sorenson, a planner, was next on the stand on behalf of the CWRA. He stated that the proposed Hunder Pit was "fundamentally incompatible" with the neighbourhood. He felt that the Provincial Policy Statement was a two way street and as residential subdivisions should not be approved next to an established gravel pit; that a new pit should not be approved next to established residential subdivisions. He also suggested that a municipal council has a duty to determine if there are other viable gravel sites further from prime agricultural lands that could be developed. He strongly believes that the Hunder proposal does not represent good planning and is akin to putting a heavy industrial operation next to a residential one.

Ms. Costello on behalf of Woolwich Township asked Mr. Sorenson whether planners are routinely called upon to exercise professional judgement in their duties. He stated yes. She then asked whether that judgement would often be subjective to which he also agreed.

Mr. Pickfield questioned Mr. Sorenson on his opinion that the berms were of unusual height. He suggested that both the five metre height as well as their length was an artificial way to try and maintain compatibility with the neighbourhood. He again referred to them and the proposed pit as "fundamentally incompatible" with the neighbourhood.

At the very end of the hearing yesterday the Chair posed a question for the parties to answer if they so wished. She listed a number of assumptions/conditions first and then asked "What is the impact on the status of the gravel pit in terms of the Planning Act and the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) if the temporary use by-law allowing recycling is not renewed by the Township after three years ?".

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Last Wednesday afternoon I missed the Presentations by the two Participants namely Della Stroobosscher and Bob Weber. My apologies and I have now read Bob's and been verbally advised that they were both excellent. Yesterday Dan Kennally was back on the stand being cross-examined by Mr. Pickfield on behalf of Hunder Developments. Mr. Pickfield pointed out and it was agreed that there is no definition of "unacceptable impacts" in the Official Plan. Mr. Pickfield also pointed out that the Provincial Policy Statement expressly states that municipalities must protect and make available aggregate resources. Dan agreed but pointed out that that policy does not trump everything else and he believes that Woolwich Township's Official Plan and staff interpretations do not go too far or are overeaching.

Regarding the Crowsfoot Corner Dan stated that there are existing operational issues at that corner as agreed to by many experts. Dan feels that the intersection should be improved BEFORE the Hunder gravel pit is approved. Dan Kennally is in disagrrement with six of the 21 Viewsheds finding them unacceptable impacts. Mr. Pickfield pointed out that there was not provincial guidance relating to visual impacts to which Dan agreed. Therefore they are a matter of judgement and are very subjective.

With regard to recycling Mr. Pickfield explored Dan Kennally's assertion that recycling would extend the life of the pit and was thus unacceptable. Dan is relying on the Interim designation for gravel pits and feels that mixing of recycled asphalt and concrete with new gravel will slow and delay the extraction of the licensed amount.

Mr. Pickfield appeared to make headway in arguing that the lack of a known operator isn't an issue as the history of compliance deals with the licensee not the operator. After Mr. Pickfield's questions he was followed by the OMB Chair (Ms. Schiller) asking Dan questions agricultural land, visual impacts and recycling.

Mr. Paton on behalf of the Conestoga Winterbourne Residents Association (CWRA) advised that 225 families were members and contributers. Mr. Pickfield suggested that Mr. Paton's facts were not currently in evidence but did not formally object. Mr. Paton examined a Dr. Heck (sp.?) from the University of Guelph, a soil expert. He gave an interesting talk about topsoil, its structure and formation. He advised that moving or removing topsoil disconnects it from its' biological and chemical processes. Also the pore spaces collapse causing it to compact excessively. Both microbial activity and the biodiversity of the soil degrade when it is stockpiled.

Previously here in the Advocate I have questioned Woolwich Council's commitment to their residents and citizens. This hearing certainly is opening my eyes to the time and money being spent on this Hearing in opposition to another gravel pit. At the same time I see vast amounts of resources being funnelled from taxpayers and citizens on both sides of the issue into lawyers pockets. There is supposed to be changes to the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) in the wings. I would hope that streamlining and reducing paperwork and costs for all parties is part of it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Last Saturday's Woolwich Observer had a Letter to the Editor titled "Chemtura should completely remove all contaminants". It was written by Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach, a CPAC member for the last three years. I give Sebastian credit both for his accurate opinion that all the Dioxins and DDT should have been removed, not just a thin scraping, but also because he is complimenting an earlier Letter to the Editor by Susan Bryant. While I too agree with the contents of the earlier letter nevertheless the author has behaved rudely and badly to a number of the current CPAC members as well as to myself. It takes a big person like Sebastian to overlook that and focus on the issue at hand namely "source removal" and I give him credit for so doing.

Sebastian also analyses Chemtura's motives for doing this approximately $2.5 million cleanup. He does not buy their neverending truth spinning that there were not off-site impacts and that the cleanup was "voluntary". This has been no more than another behind the scenes sweetheart deal with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.


Last Saturday's Woolwich Observer carrys this story "Woolwich maintains its opposition to Hunsberger pit". Woolwich's Director of engineering and planning has been on the stand giving evidence in opposition to the proposed gravel pit. He has stated under oath that the pit "does not constitute good planning and is not in the public interest". Township issues include unacceptable noise impacts, increased traffic at Crowsfoot Corner, unacceptable visual impacts and the rehabillation of agricultural lands. Finally Woolwich would also like a sunset clause preferably that being a time limit of fifteen years on the pit.