Friday, February 28, 2014


Well in my humble opinion Chemtura dodged a bullet last night. That said they dodged it by sheer luck; it's not as if they did anything nefarious or even sneaky to do so. The weather especially around Elmira and area was to say the least unpredictable yesterday. One minute the sun was shining and the next visibility due to high wind and blowing snow was almost nil. Therefore the CPAC Chair Dr. Dan Holt cancelled the meeting. This was especially kind to the out of town attendees but even in town there were problems during the day.

The Woolwich Observer on their Community Information Page carry an ad for this year's Annual Drinking Water Reports . They can be obtained either in hard copy or on-line via the Region of Waterloo website. I've been following them for many years and while they provide interesting information nevertheless there are holes in their so called drinking water protection that you can drive a truck through. More will follow as I spend time reading them over.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Well tonite (6 pm.) is the public CPAC meeting and of course DNAPLS will be mentioned by yours truly. The headline refers to one of the CPAC members using their knowledge and experience to produce some incredibly, visually stunning data. I've been of late producing tables of data but this goes so much further. Yesterday's post mentioned five different wells in RPW6 & 7 which have high concentrations as well as lacking any decisive persistent decreasing trend. Today I'm examining the most recent data and what I am seeing is this:

The most outstanding results would be Carboxin, Chlorobenzene and Toluene all in RPW6 as well as Carboxin and Chlorobenzene again this time in RPW7. The specific wells are U+500, OW74-6, U+540, OW10-9 and RPW7-1-8. There are many more results which cast grave doubt on Chemtura/CRA's self serving theories regarding residual DNAPL presence and free phase DNAPL absence.

All of this boils down to money and a lack of accountability built into our so called environmental protection systems. Our politicians are very long on talk and appearance and very short on action and delivery. Polluter pays is nothing but a catchy vote getting phrase for them.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Recently I've been expounding upon the blatant ridiculousness of the position that Chemtura have taken for two decades plus regarding free phase DNAPLS on their site in Elmira. That being said I am trying not to personally attribute that behaviour to the Elmira officials who represent the company at public CPAC meetings. While it is Jeff, Josef and Dwight who are the public spokespersons; all three are employees who must follow the orders coming out of corporate headquarters in Waterbury, Connecticut. My confidence in regards to this flows from the fact that every day from Monday through Friday; Chemtura U.S. (ie. Waterbury) are on this blog/website checking out every word I post. This I know courtesy of a program known as Statcounter.

After carefully checking concentrations of a half dozen DNAPL (dense non aqueous phase liquids) chemicals in the groundwater in Chemtura's south-west corner and former location of their operating ponds (RPW5-8), I can with confidence indicate that the evidence of free phase DNAPL presence is overwhelming.

For example wells OW74-6, U+500 and RPW7-1-8 show that five of six DNAPL chemicals, despite fourteen years of shallow aquifer hydraulic containment, continue to have high concentrations in the groundwater. These concentrations with the exception of Benzothiazole and Aniline generally remain above the 1% solubility benchmark indicating nearby DNAPL. The solubility of Aniline and Benzothiazole are extremely high (ie. millions of parts per billion) hence making even 1% of their labratory solubility an extremely high concentration in groundwater. Indeed Aniline concentrations in groundwater while below 1% solubility nevertheless are routinely between 2,000 and 200,000 parts per billion. Keep in mind all these DNAPL compounds plus many more are all dissolved in essentially the same shallow groundwater.

Extraction wells U+540 and U+560 show that four out of six DNAPL chemicals, despite fourteen years of shallow aquifer hydraulic containment, continue to have high concentrations in the groundwater. Three of those four chemicals also generally remain above the 1% solubility mark. Other wells in the former operating ponds have two and three DNAPL chemicals whose concentrations while rising and falling over time are not consistently decreasing.

This kind of detailed analysis of Chemtura's DNAPLS has never been done by independent, unbiased credentialed experts. That being said there have been a couple of occasions when the Ministry of the Environment have carefully and respectfully put in writing their opposing opinions to Chemtura's DNAPL propaganda. One such important letter was researched and written by Jaimie Connolly of the M.O.E. on April 3,2006. Steve Martindale of the M.O.E. is supposed to bring to CPAC tomorrow night some kind of update on Jaimie's April 2006 opinion. If history is any judge Steve will attempt to downplay Jaimie's very clear and strong written 2006 opinions.

Recently Woolwich Council have suggested that they will provide CPAC with $10,000 towards a professional peer review. Chemtura have recently again been approached unsucessfully for funding of peer reviews of Chemtura's consultants work. This is hardly surprising as the company while ostensibly in favour of public consultation are actually horrified at the thought of either the general public or CPAC being able to confront them on a level playing field. Client driven, well reimbursed consultants are their weapon of first choice against the public interest, in favour of their own.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Often a dishonest informant can pick individual unrepresentative examples to try and prove a falsehood. For example hypothetically a dictatorship murders 50 political opponents and critics per year. The dictatorship is overthrown and after the new democratic government is installed politically motivated murders plummet to four over the course of the next year. A dishonest critic could scream to the heavens that the new government are routinely involved in murdering critics/opponents and yet an honest appraisal would clearly show a cause and effect whereby murders are dramatically reduced. Four murders need to be investigated absolutely but to routinely assign responsibility to the new government as with the old is inaccurate.

In matters scientific or hydrogeologic the expression is cherry picking whereby either a proponent or a critic carefully choose individual samples from a large group and then assign conclusions incorrectly to the whole group based upon a very small sample. Last week I picked three wells with concentrations of MBT over a twenty year period in Chemtura's south-west corner. All three wells showed increases and decreases but very little if any overall downward trend. This was not cherrypicking for two reasons. Firstly I expressly stated that there were numerous wells that did have decreasing trends. Secondly my point is not to assign the results of these three wells to all the others either in the south-west corner or on the whole site. My point was to clearly indicate the different behaviour of these wells to those with decreasing concentration trends.
It is my understanding and belief that downgradient groundwater contaminant concentrations are not homogeneous. Downgradient wells are screened both in different aquifers as well as at different heights within the same aquifers. Furthermore DNAPL chemicals do not automatically sink in their entirety through aquifers and then congregate in one single pool sitting on the surface of the low permeability surface or aquitard. As a result multiple separate groundwater plumes can theoretically result from one DNAPL chemical being released at the surface. Finally in the case of a couple of pools of free phase DNAPL connected by a trail(tail) of residual DNAPL; the residual DNAPL which is simply a tiny quantity of DNAPL within the pore spaces between the grains of sand or gravel will dissolve much faster than the pools of DNAPL. Hence for example a plume from a higher elevation of residual DNAPL will have decreasing concentrations much sooner than a plume emanating from a pool of free phase DNAPL. This is the point which I wished to send in my posting last week. Within the same geographic area such as Retention Pond West 6 (RPW6) one can have wells with decreasing concentration trends over time as well as wells which do not. One can not assign the behaviour of the wells with decreasing trends to all the others by saying "aha there isn't free phase DNAPL present". On the other hand it is legitimate to say that probably there isn't free phase DNAPL up gradient of those wells whereas there probably is free phase DNAPL upgradient of these other wells without decreasing concentration trends.

Monday, February 24, 2014


O.K. I can see this story by W5 being a little controversial. When I read the headline in the Waterloo Region Record "Pipeline spills uncovered, some close to Waterloo Region", I was shocked. Then I read 35 spills in total versus 7 reported to the National Energy Board and 13 reported to W5 by Enbridge. As I got further into the story it seemed almost a huge relief to understand that the difference wasn't exactly spills to the natural environment so much as spills within Enbridge's "facilities". Presumably this would be pumping stations, storage facilities etc..

So exactly how problematic are these numerous spills, some small, some large, within "facilities"? That is a very good question. I personally have worked in a facility that handled large volumes of hazardous liquids. These included fuels, solvents and oils etc.. According to the Enbridge spokesperson all spills are completely captured and cleaned up. Hmm. Where I worked at Varnicolor Chemical in Elmira, Ontario we were subject to a whole raft of provincial rules and regulations surrounding tank farms, containment areas, spill management and on and on. They were all routinely ignored and totally unenforced by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

Let's give Enbridge the benefit of the doubt for a moment. Let's assume that their tank farms don't leak. Let's assume that their entire facilty is covered in concrete and is routinely inspected for and cracks repaired. Let's assume that their equipment such as pumps, hoses and tanks are in good repair. Let's assume that they have an adequate supply of absorbent materials and berms. Hopefully they have a portable vacuum truck as well. Hopefully their staff are well trained including regular spill training. Given all of these good things I still am perplexed. Why so many spills at facilities? Where I worked spills were caused by faulty, out of repair equipment, constant new employees without training and low tech or no tech spill alarms on tanks and pumps. Furthermore tank farms leaked and the ground surrounding them wasn't impermeable. Enridge you've got some explaining to do.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Today's Waterloo Region Record has an Editorial that first appeared on Bloomberg News' Bloomberg View. The Record have titled it "Another view: Save water". It talks about ways of saving and recycling the massive quantities of water used in the fracking process whereby water under pressure is injected to break up shale formations and release both oil and gas. The suggestion is that fracking water can and should be used over and over again when possible thus saving on overall water use. The state of Pennsylvania also demands that drillers disclose " much water a well will use, from where and what effect that will have on local sources.".

O.K. it's hard to argue against those ideas. Or is it? Even with those improvements are the true full costs of fracking worth the additional value of oil and gas released? Is this just one more case whereby private interests pocket the profits and society and the environment get stuck with the bill for the damages done by fracking?

Friday, February 21, 2014


As in economics, hydrogeology cause and effect is difficult to determine sometimes due to confounding factors. Recently I have been examining concentrations of DNAPL chemicals over time in Chemtura's former operating pond area (south-west). The trends are literally all over the place as the following examples will show.

Shallow Aquifer Pumping Well U+500 Mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT) was 11,000 ppb in 2000 and 12,000 ppb in 2001. Last month (Jan. 2014) the concentration was 14,000 ppb.

Pumping well U+560 MBT was 10,000 ppb in 2001, 4,700 ppb in 2002, 4,350 in 2012 and finally 7,700 ppb in Jan. 2014.

Monitoring well OW74-6 had MBT at 3000 ppb in 1991, 5,900 ppb in 1994, 44,000 ppb in 2000, 8,700 ppb in 2004 and finally 9,700 ppb in 2006.

These wells have all been under the influence of hydraulic containment of the shallow aquifer since 1997. There are indeed many wells in the south-west operating ponds whose concentrations have significantly decreased while others go up and down over many years. Both carboxin and chlorobenzene also are in wells in the operating ponds which have not shown expected decreases due to either dissolution over time or the pump and treat "remediation". I expect that an honest examination by unbiased professionals could most probably determine precisely which wells have nearby sources of free phase DNAPL versus those whose concentrations show a decreasing trend due to the complete dissolution of nearby residual DNAPL. To date we the public have had no such unbiased and honest examination.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


On-site pumping in the Municipal Upper Aquifer was 5.9 litres per second, well above the target average. On-site pumping in the Upper Aquifer (UA- south-west corner only) also exceeded the set point slightly although there is no particular target rate. Off-site pumping was also above the target average for all wells although recall that pumping well W4 has recently had it's target rate lowered from 11.4 to 3.5 l/sec. This is due to the well being reconfigured to only draw from the Municipal Lower (ML) Aquifer. As can be seen there is no pumping rates for the Upper Aquifer in the North-west or the eastern side of the creek plus there is no on-site pumping in either the Municipal Lower or Bedrock Aquifers.

Page 3 refers to the Broad Scan Analysis of parameters for the off-site and on-site pumping wells. One must read the wording very carefully especially when they suggest that all parameters were present at concentrations below various criterion. The text is strictly referring to the treated effluent not the incoming groundwater. Also for the off-site wells (W3, W4, W5A, W5B) there are numerous parameters on their list simply not tested for. The on-site wells (PW4, PW5, GUA) have extremely high Method Detection Limits which effectively screen out many parameters. MDL's include from 250 parts per billion up to 5,000 parts per billion. Finally the text on page 3 refers to Table A.4 . There is a little guess work here as my Tables are clearly marked for A.1, A.2, A.3 and then A.5 and A.6 . There is an unmarked table between A.3 and A.5 which I have to assume is simply an unmarked Table A.4 .

Attachment B refers to the MISA outlets to the Canagagigue Creek. They are ostensibly for surface water (rain) discharge however as they are constantly detecting Chemtura signature chemicals clearly there is groundwater infiltration into the subsurface pipes. After all these years one would expect decreasing concentrations due to dilution, better housekeeping and in the case of Lindane past removal from Chemtura's list of chemical useage. MISA 200 has no trend identified for Ammonia neither increasing nor decreasing. MISA 400 has no trend for Lindane, MISA 800 no trend again for Ammonia. Finally MISA SWS (surface water system) has a decreasing trend for Aniline, but no trend for Carboxin and Lindane. Overall these lack of decreasing trends indicate little or no improvement in groundwater in these areas of the site as well as an inabilty apparently to keep infiltration out of these allegedly surface water drains.

Overall there are little or no detections of chemicals in the Canagagiue Creek however volume of water and dilution are always major players in rivers, lakes and oceans. One interesting item I find however is the Conductivity of the "Gig" at the downstream end of Chemtura's site versus at the upstream end. Conductivity measurements in groundwater quickly indicate the presence of organic chemicals and other pollutants. The upstream end of the "Gig" measures 633 umho/cm and the downstream end is 950 umho/cm. I believe this is a very significant measurement of contaminants "enriching" the Canagagigue as it travels through the Chemtura site.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I received an e-mail yesterday from Ecojustice out of Toronto. This is an environmental/legal group who like to put provincial and federal governments feet to the legal fires. Their issues usually revolve around the vast disparity between the environmental laws that governments pass versus the actual on the ground reality. In this particular case they sucessfully sued the federal government in regards to its' failure to implement its' own engangered species legislation. The two Ministries at fault were Natural Resources and surprise surprise the federal Environment Ministry. In fact quoting Justice Anne L. Mactavish "There is clearly an enormous systemic problem within the relevant Ministries...".

Systemic problems within government ministries arise when the government has little or no intention of actually following through on a goal or purpose that they themselves realize has popular support. Thus while governments at all levels give lip service to protection of our air, water, soil and endangered species; the reality is that they are beholden to vested financial interests who gleefully pocket (privatize) their profits while socializing (externalizing) their costs. In other words making profits on a business while distributing the social costs into local watersheds, airsheds and habitat destruction is just dandy for them. Hence it has always been and hence it will remain but for the likes of Ecojustice and other concerned groups and citizens.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


The next full Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) meeting is scheduled for Thursday February 27, 2014 at 6 pm. in the Woolwich Council Chambers on Church St. in Elmira, Ontario. The Draft Agenda is out and seems fairly typical. There are however a couple of items carried over from the last meeting (Jan.30/14) which are to be addressed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.). The first is a CPAC request (Motion?) asking the M.O.E. to produce a comprehensive and formal list of cleanup criteria. As has been clearly enunciated by numerous CPAC members there is way too much leeway in the current situation. Simply stating that the Elmira Aquifer must meet Ontario drinking Water Standards (ODWS) by 2028 leaves way too much wiggle room and way too much open to interpretation. Number of aquifers, number of wells, length of time (eg. # of monotoring rounds) meeting the ODWS and other questions need to be explicitly answered sooner rather than later.

A second item the M.O.E. have been asked to address is a letter from Jaimie Connolly of the M.O.E. dealing with DNAPLS having migrated from the Chemtura site onto the Yara (Nutrite) site. This 2006 letter is in one of Conestoga Rovers DNAPL Reports and the specific references were given to CRA and Chemtura at the last CPAC meeting. Not only did Jaimie so comment but fellow hydrogeologist Wilf Ruland also quoted Jaimie's comments in his own DNAPL critique/comments . This issue is very significant as far as both free phase DNAPLS existence on the Chemtura site but also the issue of the M.O.E. having legal authority to order on-site Chemtura source removal due to leakage and flow of contaminants off site.

Monday, February 17, 2014


For about the last week I've been blasting away at the pretty obviously overwhelming evidence of free phase DNAPL (dense non-aqueous phase liquid) below surface on the Chemtura site in Elmira. I may also once or twice have referred to data gaps in the groundwater monitoring which I have attributed to intentional avoidance of producing damaging evidence contrary to the company line. All that being said I am going to throw Chemtura/CRA a bone here. After extensive digging through DNAPL Investigation Reports, DNAPL Status Reports, Monthly Progress Reports and the Annual Monitoring Reports; I will admit that I have found more groundwater testing for DNAPL chemicals than I expected. I had at the last CPAC meeting demanded of Jeff Merriman of Chemtura why he/they weren't doing more of this testing. He pointed out off the top of his head that the data was in the Monthly Progress Reports. He was correct in that the previous 1 3/4 years of monthly reports did have significant DNAPL information. More surprisingly to me was the Annual Monitoring Reports which I am still going through. They do indeed have about a half dozen wells in the former RPW ponds which are regularily tested for Chlorobenzene, Toluene (LNAPL), Aniline, Benzothiazole, MBT and Carboxin.

Again as I collect more data all on one Table for individual DNAPL chemicals I am seeing the very nature of DNAPL contamination. There are some wells which over time amd over years of groundwater pumping have reducing concentrations. Unfortunately other wells and or compounds over time and over years of groundwater pumping have little or no reductions in their groundwater concentrations. These conditions absolutely do not reflect the characteristics of constantly diminishing residual DNAPL presence. They do reflect however the reduction or elimination of residual DNAPL (ie. in the pore spaces between grains of sand/gravel only) while at the same time free phase pools of DNAPL are in existence; constantly slowly dissolving over decades and centuries into the groundwater.

Therefore while I commend CRA/Chemtura for more DNAPL testing than I had originally thought I still condemn their refusal to admit to free phase DNAPL on their site. As my friend and colleague Rich Clausi likes to say "You will never solve a problem until you admit that it exists.".

Saturday, February 15, 2014


The Elmira site is what is known as a mature site. Dumping into lined/unlined ponds, pits and lagoons ended mostly in the 70's and completely in the 80's. Any residual (ie. pore spaces versus pools) DNAPL whether by normal groundwater flow or even enhanced flow due to pump and treat should have been dissolved long ago. All that is left is free phase DNAPL residing in the subsurface in hopefully only small pools.

As the residual DNAPL dissolves away there will be more wells whose concentrations decrease significantly again with or without pump and treat. Wells downgradient of free phase DNAPL however will not have significantly decreasing concentrations unless they are under the influence of a pump and treat system. In that case the faster groundwater velocity makes for less contact time with the free phase DNAPL and hence lower concentrations. There are other factors however including dilution from greater rainfall ie. higher levels of groundwater. The other issue is "rebound". As soon as pumping stops or decreases back up come the concentrations. Hence when you see concentrations greater than 1% of solubility rising and falling over time, while pumping is underway, then you can conclude that either water volume is increasing/decreasing from rainfall or the pumping rates are rising and falling or both.

This is the story with Chemtura's south-west area of the former operating ponds. The sheer numbers of dissolved chemicals in the groundwater has also greatly reduced the solubility of individual chemicals. Therefore effective solubilities are what count when determining 1% solubility. Our authorities and local chemical company have gotten away with their factually fictional stories for the last quarter century.

Friday, February 14, 2014


I have just a few minutes ago e-mailed the six Tables I've been working on for the last ten days or so to both CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) and SWAT (Soil, Water, Air & technical). While not totally completed they are nevertheless amazing in the information they impart. We have a SWAT meeting on Monday and due to personal/family considerations I can no longer be 100% confident in my ability to attend. These six Tables representing groundwater concentrations of Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids over more than twenty years from seventeen different wells give a clear picture as to the environmental disaster foisted upon an unsuspecting public. Quoting Steve Kannon in today's Woolwich Observer, albeit on another topic; "Profits are privatized while Costs are socialized.".

As long as Chemtura/CRA and their fellow travellor the Ontario Ministry of the Environment refuse to acknowledge the obvious free phase DNAPL in the shallow aquifers in the south-west corner of their site, Elmira's groundwater will be at risk. To be clearer, acknowledgemnt first and then real action. This DNAPL must be acknowledged and nuetralized. Hydraulic containment or pump & treat does little or nothing. A dollar of source removal is more effective in the long run than a thousand dollars of groundwater pumping. Otherwise our children and grandchildren will still be trying to clean up this site and asking why we didn't push harder.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


The blanks are slowly being filled in as I complete the Tables for six different compounds over a twenty-three year time span with seventeen different monitoring wells. Benzothiazole is one of the lower concentration compounds but it is astoundingly counterbalanced by Toluene whose concentrations are repeatedly in the 100,000 to 200,000 ppb. area over several wells.

The depth, breadth and length of the strings of concentrations over the years are awesome. I have essentially finished three of the chemicals with the middle years still being done on three others. While concentration reductions can be seen in some wells, others go up and down with irregularity. The majority of concentrations of Toluene, Chlorobenzene, Carboxin and Mercaptobenzothiazole are well above 1% of their solubility in a litre of pure water. In this chemical cocktail masking as groundwater their effective solubilities are much lower. Keep in mind that at the moment I am only focusing on six chemicals in seventeen wells. I would estimate that there are results indicating between twelve and thirty different chemical compounds in each well depending on proximity to the discharge into the pit.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I received an e-mail last night which brings home to me the disconnect between reality and polluters and their fellow travellors. The e-mail was in reference to a world renowned DNAPL expert. This PHd has been doing groundbreaking research for decades into all aspects of Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids. That knowledge and expertise is the reality. Our government has permitted polluters in this province to hijack the process via buying their technical expertise from private consulting companies. This would be of course for profit consulting companies. Multinational, multibillion dollar companies and their bought and paid for consulting companies are financially and morally capable of running circles around our Ontario Ministry of the Environment. This is especially easy to do when those in charge at the M.O.E. are fundamentally corrupt. Keep in mind that corruption is also defined as "riddled with errors". There are many forms of corruption including one's political, pro industry bias, no matter the consequences to citizens and the environment.

I have refined the methodology I've been working on and am now tabling six different DNAPL chemicals. They are MBT, Benzothiazole, Chlorobenzene, Toluene, Carboxin and Aniline. I am still focusing on the former operating ponds namely RPW5, 6, 7 & 8. I am including Toluene although it is in fact a LNAPL (light non-aqueous phase liquid). In other words it floats versus DNAPLS which sink. The reason is simply to also show the high concentrations of other chemicals besides DNAPLS which are dissolved in the groundwater in this area.

The concentrations to date are astonishingly high especially considering that this area is being pumped and treated by the Upper Aquifer Containment & Treatment System (UACTS) and has been for the last fourteen years. That combined with the multitude of chemicals sharing space within the groundwater tends to lower both effective solubilities and overall concentrations. Our government has aided and abetted Chemtura in deceiving the public as to the true extent of on-site contamination and as to an effective remediation of it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Well apparently Canadian National and Canadian Pacific are special. They get to request exemptions from the Railway Safety Act at will. Their will, their money saved and our lives and health imperilled. What a great time to be big business and Conservative all together. This posting today comes from a CBC on-line news report from a few days ago.

Transport Canada while now admitting that they have granted inspection and other safety exemptions to CN and CP are flatly refusing to tell the public any details. CBC news has learned of three specific exemptions which include another extension to a time deadline to put reflective strips on the sides of rail cars. This is due to nighttime collisions at unlit or poorly marked intersections. Secondly trains are allowed to travel through the city of Winnipeg without brake tests and finally CP received an exemption to so called mandatory brake inspections for coal trains in British Columbia.

Apparently union input is requested however to date when the unons have objected to exemptions due to safety reasons they've been ignored. Quoting NDP Transport Critic Olivia Chow, "Transport Cnada is hiding the fact that instead of protecting Canadians, they are obeying orders from the rail giants and cutting safety inspection and granting exemptions to brake tests,". All of this bodes very badly for future rail disasters and begs the question : Are all our regulatory and safety bodies merely for show and political puffery?

Monday, February 10, 2014


I have been continuing my data search for DNAPL chemicals while currently focusing on Mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT). I am also focusing on the former operating ponds namely RPW 5, 6, 7 & 8 which are on Chemtura's south-west corner. I have checked through the monthly Progress Reports from 2007 to December 2013 and the pickings have been slim. While Jeff Merriman of Chemtura advised myself, CPAC and the public that Chemtura were publishing DNAPL concentrations from the Upper Aquifer pumping wells each month; it turns out that what he meant was slightly different. First of all there are four Base/Nuetral Extractable DNAPL chemicals involved from a grand total of two of the nine pumping wells and the time frame is all of 2013 (12 results) and only eight months of 2012. The previous four years have exactly zero MBT results published however each January Progress Report (except 2011) has the results of Aniline and Benzothiazole (BT) for the Upper Aquifer pumping wells.

January 2007 has a much more extensive listing of DNAPL chemicals in both the pumping wells as well as a few of the operating pond monitoring wells. While the results are mostly from 2006 sampling there are four results for MBT in January 2007. All of these results I am incorporating into one Table covering 1990 through until the end of 2013. The very early 90's results come from a Morrison-Beatty DNAPL Report and the mid 90's until 2004 are from Conestoga Rovers October 2005 DNAPL Status Report. I will be doing the same for other DNAPL chemicals besides MBT. I will also be checking through the Annual Monitoring Reports to see what if anything I can find there for DNAPL results. In the past I've been very disappointed due to their focus on only three contaminant groundwater results namely Ammonia, NDMA and Chlorobenzene.

The results to date for but one DNAPL chemical are conclusive. The MBT results for two pumping wells (U+500 & U+560) have shown decreases since pumping started in 1997 but quite frankly they are not impressive. They are still well above the 1% solubility screening. Other monitoring wells also show decreases albeit again modest ones. A big problem is data gaps and that is due to Chemtura/CRA sucessful lobbying of the Ministry of the Environment. The persistence of MBT concentrations well above 1% solubility over a ten to twenty year time period, in multiple wells, speaks volumes as to the presence of free phase DNAPL beneath the operating ponds. The M.O.E. identified it in the November 1991 Control Order and all the wishful thinking and bogus DNAPL Investigations since have not removed it.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Yesterday's Elmira Independent carrys the following article on the front page "CPAC asks ministry to clarify cleanup criteria". The Independent are currently and have been for some time the sole media to regularily attend public CPAC meetings. This article covers the entire public meeting of Thursday January 30, 2014. The title is in reference to an issue originally brought to light back at the November public CPAC meeting. Graham Chevreau led the charge this time and he put forward a Motion asking the Ministry of the Environment to develop formal criteria to determine "...when the cleanup has been reached, including identification of specific contaminants, wells and aquifers.".

Dr. Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach again asked questions pertaining to the bedrock aquifer and whether it will be seperately addressed. Steve Martindale was unable to give a specific answwer to the question. Yours truly got into a debate with Jeff Merriman of Chemtura as to whether they had hydraulic containment of their entire site. They do not although they claim to have over 90% of the contamination contained which is both debatable as well as a different criteria then what the 1991 Control Order demands of them. It has however been clear for some time that the M.O.E. only intermittently and erratically enforce their own Control Orders.

There was also further discussion of the proposed underground fuel tanks near the former south wellfield on Arthur St..

Finally the M.O.E. have internally submitted a formal proposal for consideration involving a further study of DDT in the downstream Canagagigue Creek. The next public CPAC meeting is set for Thursday February 27/14 either at 6 or 6:30 pm. in the Woolwich Council Chambers.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Since last Monday's posting regarding DNAPL chemicals (4 of them) published in Chemtura's monthly Progress Reports I've been doing some more digging. Specifically I'm looking for groundwater results for these chemicals in the former operating pond area. This area is in Chemtura's south-west corner alongside the Canagagigue Creek and is known as RPW5, 6, 7, & 8. The RPW stands for Retention Pond West.

So far I've been focusing on Mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT) and the concentrations are basically awful in RPW 6 & 7 from 1994 through to 2004. That's as far as I've gotten however that time period encompasses both before and after the startup (1997) and operation of the Upper Aquifer Containmant and Treatment System (UACTS). What is becoming clearer and clearer is that Chemtura's pretense that they don't have free phase DNAPL on their site is beyond the pale. In regards to RPW8 it is still being used as a storm retention pond and hence there are no monitoring wells within it. At some point I will be examining the wells just a few metres away for DNAPL chemicals. Also I've just figured out that some of the UACTS pumping wells are actually within the borders of the retention ponds. As a generalization I'm finding their concentrations of MBT within RPW6 & 7, while incredibly high, are still significantly lower than other monitoring wells within RPW6 & 7. This will require further study on my part.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I've always liked the idea of any group being a mixture of experience combined with intelligence and inexperience. The inexperienced tend to look at old problems and issues in a totally different light. They also can pick up on anomolies that the older hands have simply taken for granted. Something along those lines has just occurred at CPAC.

Currently CPAC are working hard on a number of fronts. These would include examination of Conestoga Rovers updated (Nov. 2012) plans for remediation of the off-site aquifers in Elmira, Chemtura on-site source removal including Dioxins, DDT and DNAPLS as well as at downstream monitoring (Dioxins/DDT) of the Canagagigue Creek. Public education is also coming to the forefront this year. Above and beyond these concerns one of CPAC's newest members has noticed something peculiar, an anomoly if you will. The Ministry of the Environment's Control Orders (1984, 90, 91 & 2000) are addressed to Uniroyal Chemical. Now that was certainly appropriate at the time. Since then however the corporation has been purchased and the name changed, firstly to Crompton and then to Chemtura. No one at CPAC has seen any amendment or revised Control Order addressed to Uniroyal Chemical's current name ie. Chemtura.

Is this an oversight? Is this irrelevant? Has it been changed and CPAC simply not circulated with the new Order? Or horror of horrors is this yet another disgusting betrayal of the public and CPAC by the Ontario M.O.E.? Is it even possible that the M.O.E. simply let the old Control Orders expire with the new corporate takeover, without advising all the stakeholders? The answer to the last question is a resounding yes. Anything is possible from our Ministry of the Environment. Blatant lies, errors of omission, writing Orders first and then having pretend public consultation about them afterwards, sweetheart deals, looking the other way and feigning ignorance about technical DNAPL and or groundwater issues are all in a days work for our M.O.E.. Maybe there is absolutely nothing nefarious about this lack of a name change on supposedly binding Control Orders. The Minstry's rep however would make even the naive suspicious.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Last night I attended Woolwich Council Committee of The Whole. Dr. Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach was a Delegate on behalf of the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC). He respectfully requested a Motion of Reconsideration from Woolwich Council regarding their recent decision to exempt the car wash on Earl Martin Drive from the Woolwich by-law prohibiting underground fuel tanks near the former south wellfield. Council unfortunately but as expected did not agree to a Motion of Reconsideration. The proponent for the underground fuel tanks also attended and yet once again explained the latest technology of double lined tanks including sensors to alert the owner/operators of any leak or breech of either hull.

Afterwards Ron Campbell, Sebastian and myself left Council Chambers. The proponent Hassan M. stopped outside the room and wished to engage in a friendly discussion. Ron was a few feet ahead of us and had to get home but Sebastian and I had a very informative discussion with Hassan plus two employees of MTE Consultants who were there on behalf of Hassan. Of course discussion centred around both the technology of fuel tanks as well as the vulnerability of the aquifers to contamination. I agreed with some of their points but had serious reservations on others.

It wasn't until I got home that I had an ephinany. The technology including sensors based on a vacuum between the two liners (hulls) is held to be almost foolproof. We were advised that leaks can not possibly go undetected and hence will be discovered early enough to prevent any serious damage. We were also advised that an organization known as the TSSA has the authority to step in and demand initial construction standards as well as insist upon proper maintenance and replacement when necessary. This being Canada where neither railway cars carrying hazardous cargo nor their tracks are properly maintained and upgraded leaves me less than confident in our authoritys oversight. Don't even get me started on our Ministry of Environment. None of this however was my ephinany.

In the past including when I was a kid working at a gas station in Kitchener for the summer, the technology was much simpler. We "dipped" the tanks on a regular basis. We and all garages had a long wooden rod with clearly marked lines on it. It was inserted through the steel cover over the tank and pushed to the bottom. The rod was raised and the liquid level and hence volume of liquid was right at eye level on the rod and was very easy and accurate to measure. From there simple mathematics as to how many gallons were sold since the last measure of the tank compared to the present measure would immediately inform you if there had been theft or leakage. Therefore the ephinany is this. High tech leakage "sensors" are a red herring. They are nothing but a high tech solution to a non existent problem. If your gas tank has a leak it will be constant, measurable and over time increasing with or without sensors to tell you.

There are remediated and unremediated former service stations throughout Kitchener-Waterloo. Here in Woolwich Township we have a horrible one in Heidelberg and several in Elmira that required major remediation. Those owners all knew they had a leakage problem for a very long time. It was strictly a business decision as to how much leakage of fuel they could tolerate before it was more profitable to excavate and replace the tank. If you are only losing between a gallon or two per week (10-15 gallons per month) are you going to spend many thousands of dollars taking the pump out of service and ripping up the old tank? Very unlikely. Now compare this to above ground tanks. They will immediately be both visible and odourous. Gasoline and diesel both smell and it's unpleasant. Immediately your neighbours and customers will know if your above ground tank is leaking. Hence it will be repaired or replaced much more quickly. Underground is out of sight and out of mind. This is the red herring of underground sensors and underground tanks. They replace environmental decison making with business decison making.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


As previously posted our Woolwich Council have displayed their lack of historical and environmental knowledge with their decision to exempt the car wash on Earl Martin Drive from athe Woolwich by-law prohibiting gas tanks so close to the currently pumping wellfield E7/E9. Notable for his last minute conversion was Councillor Bauman who seems to be working hard to restore his credibilty with CPAC, the committee of Council, of which he is a member. His attacks on me both at council and at CPAC have not served him well. Regardless he listened when CPAC spoke about the value in maintaining the prohibition on underground tanks near the south wellfield and indeed read his written remarks into the record at council's last vote on the matter.

Councillor Bauman as promised delivered to me a copy of those remarks and I'm going to reproduce verbatim his last four sentences

"* Our original site specific zoning by-law required that fuel tanks be located above ground to protect the wells E7 & E9.

* If these wells were still used to supply drinking water, the Region of waterloo well head protection policy would NOT allow underground tanks.

* Water is vital to our survival, and I would contend that we need to protect our sources whether we are using it for drinking supply or trying to remediate past mistakes that resulted in the contamination we are dealing with today.

For this reason, I will not be supporting the recommendation, and would ask the applicant to reconsider his request and use above ground tanks."

I (Alan) believe that Councillor Bauman has done a good job here and I especially like his reminder in the last sentence that no one is denying this business the opportunity to sell gasoline or diesel. They are merely asking that above ground tanks be used which are idiot and technology proof as far as spills, leaks and ruptures. Also underground sensors aren't too likely to be effective during a power outage. Well done Councillor Bauman.

Monday, February 3, 2014


This posting if possible should be read along with my postings of last Friday and Saturday. Friday's posting focused on free phase DNAPL being present on the Chemtura site versus residual DNAPL. Saturday's posting mentioned free phase DNAPL flowing from Chemtura onto their neighbour's property, namely Yara (Nutrite). Keep in mind that as usual the vast bulk of negotiations between the M.O.E. and polluters are done in private and in secret and these were no exception. Hence in hindsight we can easily understand why Nutrite were so recalcitrant back in 2004 to accept their responsibility for putting Ammonia both onto Chemtura's property and into the Elmira Aquifers. They knew how badly Uniroyal (Chemtura) had polluted their property. These private discussions were to protect Nutrite, Uniroyal and our Ontario Ministry of the Environment from public and media scrutiny and especially CPAC scrutiny. Uniroyal (Chemtura) wanted to hide the free phase DNAPLS and the M.O.E. wanted to hide their refusal to order on-site cleanup despite smoking gun evidence of pollution leaving Chemtura's site that can't be controlled by hydraulic containment.

I have looked at the very limited data regarding DNAPL chemicals presented in Table A.3 of the Chemtura monthly Progress Reports since last September. It is limited by the number of DNAPL chemicals tested for, by the number of groundwater wells tested and by the location of those wells. Nevertheless despite the inherent limitations the concentrations presented are significant. Two of the four Base/Nuetral DNAPL chemicals are above the 1% solubility rule first brought to UPAC's attention by myself through a report written by hydrogeologist Stan Feenstra in 1992. Mercaptobenzothiazole and Carboxin are routinely above this screening tool (1%) and not just by a little. They are often five to six times higher than a screening tool which in itself understates the likelihood of the presence of nearby Dense Non Aqueous Phase Liquids. DNAPLS are so far past mere "evidence" on this site that the M.O.E. should hang their heads in shame. Not only do they surpass most of the highly inflated screening tools but they have been actually discovered in soil and groundwater in several locations on the site yet CRA/Chemtura/M.O.E. continue to deceive.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


After my 10 minute Delegation to CPAC, Steve Quigley of Conestoga Rovers attempted some damage control on behalf of Chemtura. I had quoted both hydrogeologists Wilf Ruland and Jaimie Connolly (M.O.E.) stating their written concerns in April 2006 that free phase DNAPL had left the south-west corner of Chemtura's (Uniroyal) property and gravity flowed onto their neighbour's property ie. Yara (Nutrite). Steve attempted to suggest that there were further DNAPL investigations afterwards hence Wilf and Jaimie's comments were out of date or no longer relevant. I advised Steve Q. that I had read several followup CRA DNAPL reports (2006, 2007 & 2008) and had not seen any reversals or repudiation of their April 3 and April 21, 2006 comments. I further asked Steve that if he had any written reversals of their opinions to please provide them.

Mark Bauman asked Jeff Merriman (Chemtura) if In-Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) worked on DNAPL. Jeff inaccurately replied that it did not. He may also have suggested that the DNAPL was too deep. I corrected Jeff and quoted a twenty year old research article from the University of Waterloo that specifically advised that ISCO worked well on DNAPLS. What I forgot to add was that currently ISCO is being used on DNAPLS (TCE) in Cambridge, Ontario . This is to clean up the Northstar Aerospace groundwater contamination.

Mark Bauman also gave CPAC information in regards to a Motion for Reconsideration at Woolwich Council regarding the underground fuel tanks that Council recently permitted by the former south wellfield in Elmira. CPAC passed a Motion to attend Council and ask for such a Reconsideration. I believe that will occur this coming Tuesday evening with Sebastian, Dan, maybe Viv and others in attendance.

Graham Chevreau of CPAC raised DNAPLS as well as Control Orders and asked a number of difficult questions of Chemtura/CRA. He asked about any followup Control Orders to the 1991 Order as well as asking about whether Uniroyal's subsequent multiple name changes had been addressed in writing regarding the various Control Orders. My notes seem to reflect a non answer on that question from Chemtura/CRA/M.O.E.. Graham also asked about the demand for containment in all aquifers. Jeff Merriman again incorrectly stated that all aquifers on the Chemtura site were contained. He also incorrectly stated that the Upper Aquifer Containment System (UACTS) was concluded and agreed upon. That is absolute rubbish and in fact that is the issue which caused APT Environment to walk away from the UPAC (CPAC) table in June 1994. Regarding all aquifers being contained I corrected him and pointed out that 3/4 of the shallow aquifer was uncontained as well as the Municipal Lower (ML) and Bedrock (BR) aquifers on site. Jeff's response was that this was an old, rehashed disagreement. Chairman Dan Holt replied that it certainly wasn't a rehashed argument for this CPAC.

Sebastian went back to Steve Martindale of the M.O.E. on an issue Sebastian raised at the last CPAC meeting in November. Steve M. had been asked whether he knew of any other sites in Ontario that had achieved drinking water standards in some aquifers but not all; and were then allowed back into the drinking water system. Steve's response was that no he knew of no such scenarios. Graham proposed a Motion asling the M.O.E. to provide clarity to CPAC, Chemtura and the public in regards to the final cleanup. In other words is the 2028 deadline for achieving drinking water standards for all aquifers, all chemicals etc. or not. CPAC passed this Motion.

Vivienne Delaney asked the M.O.E. for details about the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) which Steve Martindale had mentioned. He advised their history, length of appeals, difficulties etc..

Numerous CPAC members raised questions about various DNAPL issues. I had suggested that Chemtura/CRA had failed to test for DNAPL chemicals for many years in the wells in the former RPW ponds. Jeff M. suggested that instead they tested for DNAPL chemicals in the UACTS wells along Canagagigue Creek. This I will check out and confirm however it still doesn't answer why they don't want to know how bad the concentrations are on the most contaminated area of their site.

Lastly Susan Bryant manged to embarass Chemtura by reasking a question that both I and Pat McLean had asked at an earlier CPAC meeting regarding neonicotonoid pesticides. Susan indicated that she had found information that indeed Chemtura has used neonicotonoid pesticides which are harmful to bees, in the past. Jeff M. had answered no to the question last November as stated in the Minutes; whereas this time Dwight Este advised that well Chemtura had had a joint venture with another company to produce these pesticides in the past. This was a fitting end to the meeting and in my opinion could be construed as typical Chemtura stick handling of the facts.