Monday, July 23, 2018


I guess in hindsight the only surprising thing is that the Ontario MOE let Varnicolor walk back in the mid to late 1980s in regards to the contamination in the Howard Street Storm Sewers (HSSS). The investigation was primarily done by Varnicolor and their hired consultants. Exactly how unbiased do you think that was? As I mentioned here Saturday I attempted to get all the documentation and reports from Woolwich Township unsuccessfully many years ago. What I have however I reviewed over the last couple of days and it is quite damning.

The most investigative activity occurred closer to 1986-87 and not in 1982-84 as I had formerly understood. Also there was both an entire Appendix as well as references earlier on in Canviro's 1987 hydrogeological report regarding the Varnicolor Chemical groundwater situation. Canviro were a subsidiary of CH2MHILL who dropped Varnicolor as a client when the Region of Waterloo hired them to do extensive hydrogeological work for them after the start of the Elmira Water Crisis in 1989.

The Township were involved through former Public Works Department employees providing information regarding drainage in the area as well as pipe connections from the Varnicolor property into the HSSS. Bill Kowalchuk, CAO for Woolwich Township, also was involved in defending Varnicolor and in an amazing coincidence was hired by Varnicolor approximately a year later after being fired by Woolwich Township. The firing as CAO by Woolwich is strictly a verbal comment provided to me by someone in the know, although I've never heard it disputed to date.

The excuses as to why Varnicolor didn't do it came fast and furious from all parties with a vested interest in keeping Varnicolor's pristine reputation intact. This included from the MOE. Then after I blew the whistle the MOE continued their stalwart defense of Varnicolor. You know it's almost as if the MOE knew that their day of reckoning was just around the corner and they needed no distractions from Uniroyal Chemical being squarely and solely on the perpetrator's pedestal.

Evidence included volumes of liquids in the storm sewers far beyond what should have been in them long after rainstorms. They felt that groundwater en masse had to be being directed into the Howard Street storm sewer. Perhaps what they didn't consider was the possibility not just of contaminated groundwater from Varnicolor but outright intentional dumping. In other words waste solvents and waters that Severin Argenton couldn't recycle, hence unless he dumped them illegally, were nothing but an expense to him. These solvents found in the HSSS at high concentrations were all solvents found in Varnicolor's groundwater except for chlorobenzene. The solvents included 1,1 dichloroethane and 1,2 dichloroethane which the reports incorrectly stated weren't in Varnicolor's groundwater. They were, although they may have been found at a slightly later date.

Regarding chlorobenzene, an innocuous solvent commonly found in paint thinners and other uses, I've never understood why along with the dozens to hundreds of others found at Varnicolor, it allegedly was not. Either there is yet another source or as stated last Saturday here, the MOE did some serious fudging of lab data.

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