Saturday, November 30, 2013


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

Friday, November 29, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013


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

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


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

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

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

Monday, November 25, 2013


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

Saturday, November 23, 2013


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

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

Friday, November 22, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


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

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

Monday, November 18, 2013


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

Saturday, November 16, 2013


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

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

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

Friday, November 15, 2013


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

Thursday, November 14, 2013


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


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

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

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


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

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

Monday, November 11, 2013


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

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

Saturday, November 9, 2013


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

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

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

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

Friday, November 8, 2013


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

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

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

Thursday, November 7, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


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

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


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

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

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

Monday, November 4, 2013


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

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

Saturday, November 2, 2013


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

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

Friday, November 1, 2013


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

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

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