Tuesday, December 31, 2019


I guess it's all about perspective. We're all going to die eventually so if heart failure at 85 isn't your preferred exit strategy then how about cancer at age 65? In the list of chemical compounds above, the first three are the more recent surprises for me. With the exception of dioxin (#5) the rest of them I have been aware of since 1989-1990. Dioxin I believe first came to the attention of Elmira and Woolwich residents around 1994 at a UPAC (Uniroyal Public Advisory Committee) meeting. It was of course known about for decades earlier at Uniroyal, the Ministry of Environment and most probably the Region of Waterloo and Woolwich Township.

Back in the earlier days of the Elmira Water Crisis (Nov. 1989-1991) local residents asked our authorities for a health study. The Region of Waterloo were asked as well as the province of Ontario. Both declined. Dr. Rosalie Bertrell, a cancer expert, was consulted and she strongly advised in favour of such a study. Our authorities politely but firmly declined.

Methane is an explosive gas that is generated by municipal landfills such as the Bolender Park Landfill. It was discovered off site in 1983 as it had travelled north to the then Martin Pet Foods Plant (now Elmira Pet products). Monitoring since then has been pathetic with reliance on a non-functioning gas collection system for decades.

Lead and asbestos are currently in our drinking water courtesy of old lead pipes and old asbestos cement pipes. Woolwich staff and council appear satisfied with very slow removal of them at their convenience.

NDMA, chlorobenzene, benzene, toluene etc. are still very much in our groundwater although our drinking water comes from a pipeline from Waterloo.

DDT, dioxin, mercury and PCBs are all in fish currently in the Cangagigue Creek. Generally concentrations are higher in larger, fatter fish such as carp and suckers. Via bio-accumulation however they may well be in bass, pike, birds of prey, coyotes, mink raccoon etc.

Adjust your lifestyle accordingly and you can avoid some of these hazards. Preferably don't live near Bolender Park, eat local fish, drink unfiltered tap water and maybe even best not to breathe to heavily when in Elmira. Air issues are better than they were but hardly pristine.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2019


The following letter was sent to the above listed groups last Saturday (two days ago). It is in response to the 4 1/2 page joke of a "decision" sent to me by Ronan O'Leary of the Ombudsman's office which I described here last week.


A conversation about the Bolender Park Landfill methane issues between informed and honest individuals who aren’t in a defensive, close the ranks mode is required. To date this has not occurred. What has occurred is Woolwich Township loudly proclaiming that they’re right, I’m wrong and that they are now installing monitoring probes both north and south of the guesstimated boundaries of the former landfill. Oh and just so there is no doubt that they didn’t need to install these north and south probes decades ago, they are preceding their written announcements of these probes with the words “out of an abundance of caution”. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I thank the Township for doing as I strongly suggested even if they are so upset that I’ve been on the money all along and past Woolwich Staff and councils have been so far off the mark, that they will never admit to the necessity of monitoring the entire perimeter of the landfill (i.e. N, S, E, & W) .

My complaint to Mr. O’Leary at the Ombudsman’s office was not about the incompetence or negligence of Woolwich staff or councillors after July 1996 until June 2016 when they failed to obtain so much as a single reading from any of the eleven probes or the pump that made up the gas collection system. Probes could not be found, caps were missing, probes were blocked, probes were flooded and then once again it appears as if all efforts around the gas collection system simply ended for many years. An honest party might investigate that and make some conclusions and strong recommendations however I do not recommend any of the past or current parties be given that responsibility.

My complaint to the Ombudsman related to Woolwich Township’s gross failure to honestly communicate with myself, the local citizen who researched the history of this landfill and the grossly inadequate efforts to control either the migration of methane gas from it or even to properly monitor the gas. I would suggest that the consultants Conestoga Rovers were not totally at fault as they did make some recommendations that appear to have been ignored by past Woolwich councils. These efforts or lack thereof included the east side of the landfill near High St. which only received their first successful methane gas reading after December 1986 in April 2008, twenty-two years later. This is not best practices and in fact in my opinion is disgraceful. Extremely high readings were found in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Another five year gap in testing then occurred and by 2015 there were two dates with readings of zero methane on the east side and three more dates of either unreliable readings due to malfunctioning instruments or they were simply not measured . Older east side probes were either destroyed, or the readings were not reliable due to malfunctioning instruments as well. Excuse me if I categorize these decades of testing for methane as something of a gong show. Because of those failures as well as Woolwich Township’s failure to adequately keep its’ citizens in the loop about the destruction of local groundwater prior to November 1989, excuse me if I lack confidence in them.

I have heard second hand that methane monitoring probes have been constructed on both the north and south sides of the landfill over the last year or two. I have not received any data or results from testing of them and must believe that this is a simple overlooking of duties from either staff or council. That is unfortunate as it seems obvious to me that both need all the help they can get in keeping on top of this file. No one expects staff or councillors to be experts in all things but I do expect when they have a proven track record of missing the inevitable train coming down the track that they should not be so insular and defensive when asked for information on health and environmental matters that affect Woolwich and Elmira citizens. In fact local lay citizens have often led the way with suggestions and constructive criticism regarding the cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers and the Canagagigue Creek since January 1992. Of course most of those suggestions and criticism have only been proven accurate in hindsight as Conestoga Rovers/GHD as well as Uniroyal/Lanxess refused to accept them and now have admitted that they will not achieve the Elmira aquifers cleanup by the mandated 2028 deadline.

Sincerely Alan Marshall

CPAC and Elmira EH-Team member

Saturday, December 28, 2019


My book titled "ELMIRA WATER WOES: THE TRIUMPH OF CORRUPTION, DECEIT, AND CITIZEN BETRAYAL" was completed in September and is posted on-line in both the Waterloo Region Advocate blog as well as the Cambridge Advocate website.

In April TAG. myself, another CPAC member plus one more all attended a Lanxess site tour of their south-east corner including within ten metres of the Stroh Drain. Two TAG members, Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach and Joe Kelly, distinguished themselves by putting the public interest front and foremost without fear of repercussions from either Lanxess or Woolwich rulers.

TAG members and Chair Tiffany Svensson overall have acquitted themselves better than I expected. The first Chair of TAG, Dr. Richard Jackson, turned out to be extraordinary in his experience, breadth of knowledge and lastly in his take no prisoners attitude towards the parties who he believes have so royally messed up the cleanup and deceived the public over the last thirty years. This includes Conestoga Rovers, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, and various political bodies whether municipal, regional, provincial or federal. Dr. Jackson's larger than life example would be impossible for anyone else to emulate. Ms. Svensson has not attempted to do so but simply calmly, quietly, and effectively she has gone about her business of provoking discussion and debate between TAG members in regards to issues and reports introduced by Lanxess and their consultants GHD.

Despite the above Lanxess, GHD, and the MOE/MECP have done their best to do most of their work behind the scenes and to bolster their vision of a lesser cleanup of the Cangagigue Creek. Lesser of course means less expensive. This has included questionable science, scientific techniques (shovel vs. core sampling), high Method Detection Limits and any and all other methods including eliminating many significant contaminants from the cleanup picture. All the while they have with MOE/MECP cooperation been pretending to be embracing public consultation.

Lastly despite immeasurable excuses, reasons, theories they have failed to enhance their pump and treat system both on and off-site. Pumping was poor and well below their Target Pumping Rates for most of the year. They had installed a number of wells but unfortunately installation itself does not pump a single litre of water. Hydraulic containment has been a bust and clearly they just can't seem to make it work. A skeptic might note that every litre they don't pump and treat saves them money.

P.S. Asbestos fibres in Elmira drinking water. While one councillor (Mr. McMillan) went out of his way to give me a detailed reason why staff (& council) weren't interested (or legally obligated) in proactively getting the remaining asbestos pipe out of circulation yesterday, nevertheless I find staff and council attitudes very disappointing on health and safety issues of this significance despite Health Canada's abandonment of doing right by Canadian citizens.

Friday, December 27, 2019


When it takes the appropriate agency nineteen months to come to a decision regarding a blatant case of local government failing to properly respond to legitimate concerns from a citizen/taxpayer, then you know their written response is likely to be a crock. When during that time 99.5% of their questions and requests for information have been to the local government and friends (consultants & MOE) with almost zero requests for either clarification or additional evidence to the citizen complainant then you know what to expect. Finally when the agency's (Ombudsman Ontario) report is issued not as a Draft for comment to the complainant but as the final report, you can smell what's coming. Lastly when the Decision or final report is all of four and a half pages in length yet allegedly took nineteen months to "investigate" it becomes obvious that they have done the most superficial "investigation " possible. I mean let's be perfectly clear here. When you have already determined to give maximum weight to all the pearls of wisdom dropping from GHD's, MOE/MECP, Woolwich Twp.'s lips AND to give zero weight to any and all evidence/facts/technical reports provided by the complainant, then it's all a foregone conclusion.

The Ombudsman's "Decision" is mostly devoid of any discussion or specifics of the technical issues surrounding the generation and migration of landfill gases, specifically methane at all municipal landfills. It does not for example indicate best practices in regards to methane monitoring or methane collection. I had provided fourty very clear and specific questions to Woolwich Township regarding past, present and future practices and actions specific to the Bolender Park Landfill. With absolutely zero rationale or explanation, council advised Woolwich staff that they didn't have to respond to any questions that they felt were "historical" or previously answered by anybody. Staff then made the unsupported and totally false claim that 38 of my 40 questions were in their opinion either "historical" or previously answered by somebody, somewhere. I repeat there was absolutely no attempt to back up that ridiculous claim/position with any rationale or references to previous answers to my questions. There was no reason given as to why alleged "historical" questions were forbidden or even what defined "historical" questions. Were they "historical" if they referenced data that was five years old, five months old, five days old?

Meanwhile the Ontario Ombudsman gobbled up every bit of nonsense of Council's decision to limit their responses to this citizen. The Ombudsman made zero attempt to justify the refusal of Woolwich Township to answer specific questions relevant to the acknowledged methane problems at this landfill next to two industries (Elmira Pet Foods, 86 Auto Recyclers) and to homes on High St. and George St. in Elmira. Just one more example of high handed covering up by one government agency (Ombudsman) of transparency and accountability failures of local government.

P.S. Barry Your usually ignorant, rude and fourth hand observations and comments as usual will not be published.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


Five days ago the Waterloo Region Record carried the following story titled "The historic promise of legal aid in Ontario is dead". The authors were lawyers Daniel Brown and Louis P. Strezo. Unfortunately I can't find it on-line in order to provide a link to it. Most likely the Record have changed the title of the article since the one in my early morning edition.

Apparently the Ford government in their haste yet again to cut expenditures have picked upon the disadvantaged and the needy. "The income cut-off for those attempting to qualify for legal aid, for example, long ago fell well below the poverty line, disqualifying many needy defendants." Furthermore "The genesis of legal aid dates back to the 1960s, when concerned lawyers and judges were able to persuade politicians that the scales of justice were unfairly weighted against the accused."

The new legislation guarantees "...only to fund impecunious defendants in a minuscule number of criminal matters that the court must first deem to be among the most complex and serious." "The rest will face the prospect of acting as their own lawyer - a recipe for wrongful convictions and time-consuming court delays. Finding themselves up against the might of the over-resourced state, these defendants will be at a colossal disadvantage."

Earlier this year $133 million was cut from legal aid's budget. Another $33 million had been slated to be cut in 2020 although this is now on hold. I have long suggested that our courts, especially our civil courts are simply playgrounds for the wealthy and privileged in our society. Our criminal courts are being filled with underrepresented and disadvantaged individuals who are cannon fodder for the criminal justice system. Public defenders and para legals may well do their best and attempt to assist but could end up in "...areas of the law in which they are insufficiently trained to act."

Monday, December 23, 2019


As per the front page (and more) of the November 2019 Lanxess Progress Report we have an acknowledgement that due to pumping well #4 (PW4) not operating the site is discharging contaminants into the Elmira Aquifers. I don't know whether to be appalled or perhaps reassured that Lanxess and their consultants GHD are admitting to it. I believe that this happened on a regular basis over the decades only we the public have been misled about it. Well CH-47E is one of a number of "Sentry" wells just off the west side of the Lanxess property. Concentrations of both NDMA and chlorobenzene have been rising since the on-site pumping wells PW4 and PW5 in combination have not been pumping at their Target rates.

Following is a partial listing of concentrations of toxic contaminants on the Lanxess site sampled in October of this year. This is what is slowly leaking off-site now and will continue to do so over the upcoming decades whenever the pumps either slow down or stop.

Dinitrotoluene 160 parts per billion (ppb), mercaptobenzothiazole 9,200 ppb, aniline 3900, carboxin 9700, NDPA 580, cresol 130, chlorobenzene 6300, benzene 170, xylenes 590, toluene 59,000 , NDMA 6.9, tetrachlorethene 9.6, trichloroethene 4.2.

Of course there are many more leaking contaminants however their analytical results have detection limits that are thousands of parts per billion. Acetone is one of the worst and its' concentration is referred to as Non-Detect at a detection limit of 50,000 parts per billion i.e. ND(50000). There are many other contaminants that for one reason or another allegedly can not be accurately measured. To me that seems very convenient.

Saturday, December 21, 2019


Off-Site Pumping Well W6B : zero litres per second

Off-Site Pumping Well W9 : zero litres per second

On-Site Pumping Well PW4 : .1 litres per second with a Target rate of 2.9 litres per second.

Well at least the on and off-site pumping rates are consistent as in they are both a mile beyond unacceptable. The overall on-site pumping rate is the absolute worst not only for this year but for many years in the past. The off-site pumping rates are the third worst this year which is saying something as only four months out of eleven have achieved the Target Rates required. This is asbysmal and this ongoing failure for years is only part of the reason why the 2028 deadline for cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers isn't going to happen by the admission of all parties. How the hell could it possibly happen when they can't even achieve their tiny increase in Target pumping rates after Chemtura and CRA advised that in order to achieve the 2028 deadline they would need to first triple their off-site pumping rate and then later double it. What a farce hydraulic containment has been. Or as it is also called Pump & Treat. The Elmira case had better be used down the road at other sites as to why Hydraulic Containment alone is not an acceptable remediation strategy.

Friday, December 20, 2019


This update is Issue #7 dated November 2019. I'm a little behind on this posting. The update consists of four separate updates namely the "Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Update", the "Region of Waterloo Public Health Update", GE Canada Update", and the "CIC (Community Information Centre) Update". The level of puffery (i.e. world class bullshit) is highest with the MECP, next with the Region (Public Health) and decreasing with GE Canada and the CIC.

The MECP start their update with the following : "This is to ensure that the community remains protected." Wow! That is just an incredible sense of arrogance and self-aggrandizement coupled with a total lack of empathy for the victims of the Ministry of Environment's negligence, incompetence and corporate bias. People died on their "watch" and others have life long damage to their health and yet the MECP suggest that the Bishop St. community were ever "protected". Senior MOE/MECP staff should be in jail over the failures in Cambridge, Elmira, and Walkerton not to mention Grassy Narrows and so many other locations in Ontario.

We are advised by the Region (Public Health) that Trichloroethylene (TCE) concentrations due to mitigation efforts are below 5 ug/m3 (5 micrograms per cubic metre of air) in the large majority of homes. We are also advised that the long-term goal is to reduce all indoor concentrations in homes to .5 ug/m3 or less.This crisis was discovered in 2005. Almost fifteen years later and there are still human beings living in homes contaminated with TCE at greater than 5ug/m3. That is not a success story. Precisely how many MECP/Public Health, GE Canada, and AET (consulting co.) employees are living in those conditions? I would hazard a guess of zero.

For six years (2009-2015) GE Canada and their consultants used potassium permanganate to destroy TCE in soil and groundwater around the 610 Bishop St. site. This site is one of two contributors of TCE and TCA with the other being 679 Bishop St. (Northstar Aerospace). Here in Elmira we have been emphatically advised that Lanxess/GHD will not use potassium permanganate to destroy chlorobenzene in our groundwater. The explanation/rationale to date has been inadequate.

In a real democracy and in a country whose politicians sincerely wanted to do the best for ALL citizens no one from the Bishop St. community would have been left breathing in TCE contaminated air at any concentration in their homes for fifteen seconds after discovery much less for fifteen to seventeen more years. I believe the plan has always been to minimize costs on the back of the health of residents. People will die of old age along with cancers and respiratory diseases which can not be directly attributed to TCE, TCA or other industry contributed contaminants to their homes. That plan has worked everywhere else so why not in Cambridge?

Thursday, December 19, 2019


There are a number of different questions and concerns regarding the significant proposed expansion of Woolwich Bio-En. These include numerous environmental issues as well as health and safety issues for the neighbours. The health and safety issues include not just road safety issues of increased truck traffic but also what kind of emergency plans are in place in case of a disaster? Fires and explosions can always take place when methane gas is involved. Basically this operation is producing methane gas from organic foodstuffs etc. and then the methane gas is burned in order to generate electricity for the power grid.

The environmental issues include odours, air emissions from trucks as well as from the plant itself, possibility of liquid spills either at the site or in transit, increased noise either from more trucks or longer hours of operation etc.. Also obviously any fires would also increase air pollution.

The proposed expansion is just over 50% of the current volumes. The number of trucks allowed is proposed to be doubled. The proposed new waste types to be allowed must also be explicitly advised to residents. The whole idea of allowing the site to become a waste transfer station sounds dubious on its face. Again will only wastes allowed for processing be stored/transferred or will other wastes be permitted? What are those wastes? What are the volumes? Will they be stored indoors or outdoors? Will they simply sit on trucks outdoors?

What guarantees/assurances will nearby residents have that current laws allegedly protecting citizens will be enforced by our paper tiger, the Ontario Ministry of Expanded Corporate Pollution (MECP)?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


The December 9/19 issue of Canadian Mennonite magazine carries a story titled "Understanding the impact of Agent Orange". The author of the story is Donna Schulz. The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has been doing good works in Vietnam for a very long time. Following are some of the observations of a Mennonite couple from Saskatchewan who have again been spending time in Vietnam with the MCC.

Three million Vietnamese were killed during the war in Vietnam with two million of them being civilians. Currently three million Vietnamese are living with the after-effects of Agent Orange. Agent Orange was a herbicide sprayed by the U.S. for the purpose of destroying crops and to strip leaves from trees that might hide enemy troop movements. Long term effects on humans include Parkinson's disease, liver dysfunction, and mental and cognitive delays. Dioxin was the compound within Agent Orange that caused this as well as caused genetic mutations. "Today, "the third and fourth generations of babies are born with problems'" she says."

Dioxin is persistent and stays in the soil and waters for many years. Here in Elmira it is still on the Uniroyal/Lanxess site five to six decades later as well as in the Canagagigue Creek sediments, soils and the fish. In Vietnam fish were being raised for eating and the dioxin had gotten into their fatty tissues.

The MCC are involved with childrens' rehabilitation centres in Vietnam. Physical and occupational therapies are used to assist young citizens impacted by dioxin/Agent Orange.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


This issue is personal and has been so over the last several years. My wife and I and even our kids (long time ago) used to bicycle out Middlebrook Rd. on the way to Elora. We lived in West Montrose at the time. To this day we usually drive out to Elora from Elmira at least a couple of times each summer to visit the park and walk the trails in Elora. Of course we drive right past the Middlebrook wells on the way.

Today's Waterloo Region Record has a huge article with various titles in regards to Elora and area's battle with Nestle over their proposed pumping of the Middlebrook wells for their water bottling operations. The title in this morning's edition is "Small Ontario town takes on giant Nestle". Recently the moratorium on expanded pumping permits for the water bottling industry has been extended by nine more months while the provincial government continues its review.

Various studies confirm that current infrastructure (wells) are not adequate to allow expected population growth and resultant development in the Township of Centre Wellington. It was for that reason that the Township had also bid (unsuccessfully) on the Middlebrook Wells. Local residents also mention signs of a decreasing water table. All of this does not bode well for the future especially with expected impacts from climate change. That said there are other voices that suggest that bottled water operations are less of a concern to water supply than say gravel pits or pet food manufacturers.

My thoughts are to a certain extent contradictory on the matter. I do not believe that a private company or individual has any right to the public's water at any price. The fact that the resource (water) is currently so undervalued at $503.71 per million litres is especially egregious and insulting. At the same time I am not a blind, diehard fan of tap water. Our municipal and regional authorities are responsible for a litany of unresolved contamination problems locally including lead, asbestos, low level solvents and more. Only recently has the third world water system in West Montrose been taken off-line with a pipeline from Conestoga and St. Jacobs. The raw water in West Montrose was a disgusting mess of bacteria courtesy of both the river and all the local septic systems draining towards the river and the wells.

Monday, December 16, 2019


The following article titled "Court backlog growing and courtrooms sit empty for hours every day:auditor", was published on December 5, 2019 in the Waterloo Region Record. Seventy-One percent of inmates in the provincial adult correctional facilities are there on remand, which means that they haven't been convicted or sentenced. 71% ! Backlog anyone? In 2004-2005 it was at 60%. Apparently they do not have a handle on that issue as it is increasing.

"Courtrooms across the province are in operation for an average of just 2.8 hours a day, the auditor found, well below the ministry's optimal average of 4.5 hours." Currently across Ontario there are 114,000 criminal cases awaiting resolution.

Unmentioned in this report by the Auditor General is the overall quality of justice handed out. No mention is made of wrongful convictions, prosecutorial misconduct etc. We would all like to hope that wrongful convictions are a tiny proportion of total convictions however when the system appears to screw up even the big ticket items such as murder then we have to ask if they can make errors there then how easy is it to mess up the smaller ticket items such as robbery, break and enter, assault etc.

Saturday, December 14, 2019


I am aware of Indemnities in Ontario to Uniroyal Chemical, Phillips Environmental, Safety-Kleen, and now Bowater and Weyerhauser. Obviously the MOE hand these out like candy allegedly in exchange for quick cleanups and less litigation. In reality here in Elmira it also has a major cover your butt component for the Ontario Ministry of Environment. The Indemnity to Uniroyal helped end the ongoing Environmental Appeal Board hearing in 1991 when it was Uniroyal's turn to present damaging and embarrassing evidence to the Board about the Ontario MOE.

The second question requires a lengthier answer. In a nutshell it's about money and power. Large multinational companies are willing and able to go toe to toe with the Ontario MOE in court. In fact it's usually cheaper to tie things up in court for years rather than jump into a multi-million dollar cleanup. It'also a result of a lack of strong enforcement powers in the legislation which allows corporate entities with money to appeal everything they don't want in Control Orders, cleanup orders and the like. These companies have already spent millions of dollars lobbying the Liberal and Conservative parties regardless of who is in power. Therefore all environmental legislation is essentially subject to corporate review and modification long before the public ever see it. These companies also donate directly to our two biggest political parties. They expect to keep doing so unless one of the two biggest parties severely step out of line, by corporate standards that is.

It has been my experience that the Ontario MOE will write a strict Control Order today in the heat of public opinion against a polluter only to weaken it progressively over the following decades with amendments and concessions to the polluter. This is a way for the MOE to avoid massive public condemnation during an environmental crisis while still satisfying their corporate clients that they won't be too onerous for very long on the poor darlings.

Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carried the following story titled "Companies to pay for mill maintenance". It took the Supreme Court of Canada to override lower court rulings that favoured the corporate owners of a mercury-laced waste disposal site. They had argued that a 1985 Indemnity from the MOE should cover them so that they were not on the financial hook for maintenance, financial assurance and for monitoring ordered in a new 2011 MOE Control Order. The Supreme Court also criticized the lower court judge for "palpable and overriding errors of fact."

Friday, December 13, 2019


Last night's RAC meeting was somewhat philosophical. It was also somewhat pathetic. Tiffany Svensson, TAG Chair, spoke about questions that TAG would like answered. Questions such as what is the new date that Lanxess believe the Elmira Aquifers will be restored by. Philosophical questions as to what is considered "clean" for the Elmira Aquifers. Questions such as can some of the treated water from the aquifers be used industrially, commercially or even as potable water rather than dumping it into the Canagagigue Creek. Eric Hodgins of the Region of Waterloo may have been the individual who asked about a "stigma" in regards to ever drinking Elmira water.

The term pathetic is in regards to the failure to remind all present last evening that CPAC from 2012 to 2014 were asking both the Ministry and Chemtura the same questions regarding the definition of what is clean. What is also pathetic is Ramin Ansari of Lanxess boldly advising that both he and the company know and accept that the Elmira Aquifers will not be remediated by 2028. That is a huge turnaround even from as recently as a year or two ago. Recall that for the last few years Chemtura/Lanxess have been bragging about their expanded and enhanced off-site containment and treatment system. New wells, new locations, higher pumping rates and potentially even some In Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) of the "hot spots" around Elmira.

Ramin advised Tiffany that Lanxess would not commit to a particular new cleaanup date. They will simply commit to continuing to clean the aquifers until all are satisfied. Ramin suggested that he would accept the risk of drinking treated Elmira water now but stopped short of saying that he would give it to his children to drink. That was a wise decision because I doubt that I could have controlled my response from the gallery if he was dumb enough to have suggested that the water currently was safe for children. One bit of good news is that Linda Dickson from TAG spelled it out clearly as to the pumping failures throughout 2019. Far too many wells simply didn't do their intended jobs not just W9. Here is the irony however. Even if they did meet their Target Rates those pumping rates were still dozens of litres per second lower than what CPAC and the public were told was necessary by Jeff Merriman and Chemtura in November 2012 in order to achieve cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers by 2028.

Clearly what has occurred is Chemtura/Lanxess and CRA/GHD have privately decided to renege on their promises and commitments to Elmira citizens. They are unwilling to spend the money and expend the time and commitment to do the job that both they and the Ontario Ministry of Environment committed to do. Ramin almost sounded last evening as if denying the possibility of cleanup by 2028 was some kind of a virtue. Jason Rice of the MOE/MECP announced that there is a new Control Order coming down the pipe. My guess is that it will among other concessions, relax the 2028 deadline. Councillor Scott McMillan to his credit suggested real public input, unscripted, at public meetings regarding the new Control Order. Ramin, the MOE, and Linda suggested otherwise. They want to present done deals to the public not give them options or ideas that the cleanup has not been a resounding success.

Ramin's comments have me worried. He was not challenged sufficiently by anyone last evening. He feels that "hot spots" may not need to be addressed individually. He feels that a date for cleanup is not appropriate until after he knows what the goals are. Presumably these will finally be spelled out in the new Control Order. Good God these goals should have been made very clear decades ago. This is why CPAC were pushing for a specific definition of cleanup seven to eight years ago when there was still time to make improvements and enhancements.

As always the new Control Order will be negotiated privately between Lanxess and the Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE/MECP) with token input from RAC & TAG. The public may or may not be given an opportunity to comment at a public meeting but regardless input from the "unwashed masses" will be ignored. That has been the history for the last thirty years and the dissembling and historical revisionism will continue unabated.

Thursday, December 12, 2019


Today's Woolwich Observer carries a full page Notice of a proposed change to the terms and conditions of the existing Renewable Energy Approval for the Woolwich Bio-En facility at the north end of Elmira. There will be a public meeting in Lions Hall (beside the Arena on Snyder Ave.) on January 29, 2020 at 7:30 pm. to discuss the changes.

These changes include increasing the maximum allowable amount of biomass to be processed from 70,000 to 110,000 tonnes per year. Also total truck movements will be increased from 80 to 160 per day and the biomass types to be processed will also be increased. What specific new biomass "types" is not stated in the Notice. Furthermore the facility would like to be permitted to operate as a transfer station to receive, process and ship biomass to other appropriately licensed facilities.

I foresee some community opposition to these changes just as there was to their initial opening of the facility. Things like increased truck traffic so close to the already busy Church and Arthur St. intersection is one example. Also there will likely be renewed concerns about odours whether from the increased biomass proposed for processing or from the plan to operate the facility as a transfer station for other bio-mass facilities.

The bottom line is the community's appropriate and total lack of respect for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment's (MECP) commitment, willingness and ability to enforce environmental laws, rules and regulations here in Elmira. Ongoing odours from the nearby Elmira Pet Products is but one example. Uniroyal Chemical's ongoing operations under many other names is another. The MOE/MECP also failed miserably to stop odours from Uniroyal between 1998 and 2000. Therefore claims by the owners/operators of Woolich Bio-En that they will follow all appropriate laws and regulations ring hollow when the regulator are uselss and sometimes worse.

It would not be fair to not mention however that Woolwich Bio-En have operated responsibly in Elmira over the last number of years.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019



Of all the incredibly shortsighted actions and non-actions of our authorities including the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), Woolwich Township, Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE/MECP) and lastly Health Canada; the absolute worst is leaving lead waterlines in the ground that run from underneath the streets to private residences, schools and daycares. Let me be clear here. I do not know all the stupid, self-serving, quasi legal actions that our authorities have done or are doing. I am referring at this moment to their actions/non-actions in regards to drinking water distribution.

The lead service lines have likely been in the ground at least for seventy years and the asbestos cement waterpipe for sixty years or more. This crisis did not happen overnite. It has been carefully kept out of the public spotlight for decades although now it is beginning to finally get the attention it deserves. It is no wonder that fourty percent of our population will get cancer in their lifetimes.

The news from the WRDSB that schools throughout Waterloo Region have lead exceedances in their drinking water is shocking. Experts have advised that there is absolutely no safe level of lead in drinking water when it comes to young children. It damages them neurologically. It permanently reduces their intellectual capacity. These lead exceedances are above 10 ppb (parts per billion) which is the provincial standard. The federal standard (Health Canada) is 5 ppb. Any lead whatsoever has no place in our drinking water and successive generations of politicians have known this and generally kept their mouths shut allowing this mass poisoning to continue. Keep also in mind that just like asbestos cement waterpipes, that lead was used at least partly because it was cheaper.

The WRDSB clearly haven't removed at their expense all the lead pipe going into their schools because they aren't legally obligated to do so. My guess is that they'd rather use the money to buy labour peace with all their employees rather than on non-mandated health upgrades. Maybe the various unions in the schools might just decide that they too really don't need daily doses of lead and or asbestos fibres and begin to push for pipe replacements.

You know I've recently mentioned that I understand Woolwich employees not looking for additional problems to fix that they aren't mandated to do. In light of my recent knowledge as to how far from best practices or from the Precautionary Principle that our authorities have strayed, it is clear that they can't handle the lead problem properly so why would I ever expect them to handle things like explosive methane (Bolender Park Landfill) or asbestos fibres leaching from asbestos cement waterpipe into our tap water. Councillors, staff and school boards are in over their heads and neither the province nor the federal government are helping. All these authorities continue to pray that their citizens do not wake up and demand immediate action.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Compromise is sometimes known as the Canadian way. In regards however to health and safety measures it can also be eerily similar to capitulation. Lobbying of politicians by powerful vested interests has long watered down necessary and important legislation whether it be worker safety or public health matters that could either cost some parties large sums or reduce other parties future profits. Think of proposed U.S. EPA rules that have been weakened by industry lobbying. Glyphosate restrictions come to mind due to industry lobbying.

We have a crisis of lead water service pipes in North America. We have had this crisis for many decades but our authorities have mostly kept it under the radar. They have compromised and in my opinion compromised the public health. "A top reason for continuing to use lead service lines instead of immediately digging them up is that utilities can treat water so it forms a coating on the interior of the pipes--a corrosion barrier that helps prevent lead particles from dislodging and travelling to your faucet. But if the water chemistry changes, the corrosion controls can fail.
That's what happened in Flint after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality told the Flint Water Treatment Plant not to maintain corrosion controls that had previously been in place before the city switched water sources in 2014." (HuffPost US Feb 22, 2016 by Arthur Delaney.)

Here in Elmira, Ontario we have Woolwich Township replacing their lead service lines in older subdivisions when they are already doing road reconstruction. Notice I said that Woolwich Township replace "their" lead service lines. Regardless of which authority (likely Woolwich) approved the use of lead service lines from the main waterline under the roadway to a private residence, Woolwich will not replace the entire service line. Oh no they will only replace the lead service pipe up to the curb even though your property line doesn't start for several more feet. Regardless they will not replace the entire lead pipe originating from their waterline up to your house. You the homeowner are on the hook both for the cost and for the arrangements apparently. Nice compromise. Oh and by the way "...it turns out that replacing just the public portion of a lead service line can cause lead levels to spike in a homeowner's water. That's because the work involved in replacing just part of a lead service line can jostle free lead in the remaining part of the pipe." (same source as above)

In the U.S. there is a movement to legislate actual lead service line replacement. The EPA are considering changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act to encourage public water systems to go ahead and replace the pipes. Some have insisted that that compromise is unacceptable because "The rule needs to be such that it enforces actual lead service line replacement".

Meanwhile elementary as well as high schools and day cares throughout Waterloo Region have had or continue to have lead levels in excess of the federal guideline for lead in drinking water. This includes Elmira District Secondary School as well as John Mahood School in Elmira. The Waterloo Region District School Board claim to be following provincial rules regarding testing of water and perhaps mitigation methods such as flushing taps and waterlines after holiday periods of inactivity. This flushing is at best a temporary and brief stopgap. It is a compromise to allow school boards not to do the obvious permanent fix of replacing the lead service line coming in from the street. Keep on spending on everything but our children's health and safety. Oh and by the way the Ontario Ministry of Environment's (MECP) lead guidelines are twice as high as Health Canada's. i.e. 10 parts per billion versus five parts per billion.

Monday, December 9, 2019


The author of the recent Letter To The Editor of the Waterloo Region Record is well known. His name is Emil Frind and he has been involved with the University of Waterloo and hydrogeology for a very long time. He knows of what he speaks.

Mr. Frind takes Norm Cheesman of the aggregate producers lobby to task for his recent written claims that new provincial changes to aggregate extraction will cause no harm. Mr. Frind concurs that we need aggregate however he states that we need clean water more. Excavating below the water table exposes aquifers to surface contaminants that otherwise are filtered by soils, sands and gravels above them. Clays also protect underground aquifers by greatly slowing any surface liquids from penetrating into the water bearing aquifers below.

The suggestion from the aggregate industry or anyone else that remediation can restore aquifers once they are contaminated is not adequate. Much contamination is never cleaned up simply based upon economic considerations. Or it's done by so called "natural attenuation" which means that over decades the contamination is slowly diluted as it spreads down gradient.

Below the water table extraction such as is proposed outside Winterbourne at the Jigs Hollow Pit is going to result in a permanent lake left behind. This will provide a permanent open pathway to surface contaminants.

Mr. Frind strongly believes that the Region of Waterloo have the expertise and the commitment to determine the safe depth of excavtion above an aquifer. Renoving that authority is a major environmental setback.

Saturday, December 7, 2019


Here are the known facts:

The majority of asbestos cement pipe used in North American drinking water pipes was installed between 1931 and 1960. That said it is possible although unlikely that Elmira's was installed as late as 1970. We (Woolwich Township & I) have an engineering drawing from 1973 which clearly shows the large extent of asbestos cement pipe in use in Elmira, Ontario. Woolwich Township, to their credit (after they learned that I had the engineering drawing), have both confirmed this use of asbestos cement pipe for drinking water and that there is still to this day asbestos cement pipe in the ground in Elmira conveying drinking water to homes and businesses. The Township have provided a non-formal, non-engineering drawing, non-dated, non-signed, non-verified by any means, map showing nine streets in Elmira which still are using this pipe.

The Township have formally in writing been asked to provide verifiable drawings or evidence that indeed there are only nine streets left in Elmira still using these pipes. They have not done so. They have been asked to provide any and all engineering drawings done since 1973 that would indicate removal and replacement of these asbestos pipes. They have refused to do so. They have been asked to provide evidence of any rehabilitation of these pipes by whatever means including Cured-In-Place (CIPP) or Sprayed-In-Place (SIPP) internal coatings. They have refused to do so.

It is acknowledged by all relevant authorities that asbestos cement pipes break down over time and leach asbestos fibres into the water they are conveying. Assuming normal breakdowns, collapse or crushing from traffic or nearby excavations does not occur then internal eroding and release of asbestos fibres will occur between fifty and seventy years after installation. Most likely the remaining streets with asbestos cement pipes in Elmira have been discharging asbestos fibres into our drinking water for at least the last decade and possibly for the last fourty years.

Woolwich Township are not alone in Waterloo Region behaving like ostriches by burying their heads in the sand to avoid trouble. Credit does go to them for at least some of the information they have provided. This includes the fact that they have not tested for asbestos fibres in Elmira's water, ever. This has been confirmed by two Woolwich Township sources. Talk about plausible deniability. I expect that down the road they will assign that task to their favourite consultants, formerly CRA and now GHD. There are a hundred ways to fudge sampling and testing and I expect that CRA/GHD know them all.

I posted recently that while I disagreed with Council's and staff's do nothing position on asbestos cement pipes still in use in Elmira, I did understand it. Understanding it does not make it right. Currently there has been a major exposure of lead in our water pipes including in our schools. That is beyond disgraceful and reprehensible and I have also asked staff and council for clarification and verification of the lead situation in Elmira. That request has also been ignored by all at Woolwich Township. They are behaving, in my opinion, as if they have something to hide. I expect that they are confident that senior tiers of government who also love secrecy and non transparency will not order them to be more open to citizens requests for information. What a joke Freedom of Information is and always has been.

Friday, December 6, 2019


Today's Waterloo Region Record carries the following article titled "Dark Waters lawyer role perfect for Ruffalo". It is in the Arts & Life section and describes the "...true-life David v. Corporate Goliath legal thriller with echoes of films such as "A Civil Action" and "Erin Brockovitch." The movie depicts the actions of Dupont Chemical in dumping toxic chemical wastes into the Dry Run Creek in West Virginia. This article in the Record, written by Michael Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times, claims that Dupont "...knowingly exposed thousands if not millions of consumers to dangerous levels of toxins...".

References are made to "corporate friendly scientists who testify in Dupont's favour" as well as to the fact that Hollywood doesn't "...make movies about crusading attorneys who get crushed in court by corporate monoliths." Also we are advised of cattle drinking the water either dying or of others being born with gruesome birth defects. Local residents have suffered from cancer, blackened teeth and former Dupont employees have been struck with serious and sometimes fatal illnesses.

This movie is based upon the 2016 New York Times Magazine article titled "The Lawyer Who Became Dupont's Worst Nightmare". I have read that article and once again have seen how black and white, open and shut cases can extend for a decade or more in court simply because the guilty party finds it cheaper to hire lawyers to fight and the courts accommodate both delays and wealthy and powerful interests. This sends a chilling message to the next individuals or lawyers trying to achieve justice through the courts.

Dupont just like Uniroyal/Lanxess are members of the Chemical Industry Association of Canada (CIAC). They are probably also members of American lobby associations promoting the chemical industry. The reality is that the chemical industry in North America has a hard earned reputation of putting profits before people. I expect and believe that there are some sincere and honest companies who are members of the CIAC. Locally here in Elmira, Ontario I believe that the former Sulco Chemical (Canada Colours) are an example. Uniroyal/Lanxess are not. Similarly I believe that some individual persons who are or have been members of the National Advisory Panel of the CIAC have been sincere and honest. Unfortunately there are also local individuals who are not. For myself I judge both people and companies, not by their words but by their actions.

Speaking of words versus actions there is a Remediation Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting next Thursday in Woolwich Council Chambers at 5 pm.

Thursday, December 5, 2019


I received an e-mail yesterday asking what time would suit me for a chat with Councillor Mcmillan. During the proposed time frame he indeed called. I have now received a couple more answers to my questions while some others remain unanswered. Councillor Redekop has not gotten back to me despite his e-mail from last Friday advising that he would. Whether he perhaps thinks that my interactions with Councillor Merlihan and McMillan exempts or excludes him, I really don't know. As a courtesy I do hope that he does call even though the fog has been significantly cleared due to yesterday's efforts by Councillor McMillan.

I have to say that Councillor Mcmillan continues to impress. He is persuasive without being brusque or rushed. He likes to talk but so do I so we both got our opinions, points and positions across to the other. He can hold to his position while still acknowledging the validity of your points and facts. He also is not afraid to not come to an agreement if he feels strongly that his position needs to prevail. As of last night he felt strongly that both staff and council must follow their current direction in regards to asbestos cement pipes in Elmira.

I have slept on this and thought about it further. While I continue to disagree strongly with Woolwich Township's position, I now understand it much better. It is not likely some bizarre conspiracy to slowly rot the minds and bodies of Elmira residents. It is not likely some payoff or kickbacks from the appropriately disparaged asbestos industry in order to continue to falsely bolster the safety of some of their products while grudgingly accepting the human health harm they have done with others. If I followed Councillor McMillan's reasoning accurately it is simply that both Township employees and councillors require clarity in their jobs. They are often beset by conflicting positions of constituents, neighbours, and or community groups. That requires the wisdom of a Solomon to navigate. However when it comes to direction from higher tiers of government they expect that to be straightforward and clear. They do not want the provincial or the federal government to be approaching municipalities such as Woolwich and saying "Well there are different opinions regarding asbestos in drinking water pipes and so do your thing.".

There is scientific evidence today that asbestos fibres in drinking water pipes are a health hazard above a certain concentration. I expect that just like lead, NDMA, cigarettes etc. that at some point asbestos may be recognized as a hazard at any concentration or exposure. What I both believe and understand is that Health Canada have been reluctant to date to categorically confirm that. A colleague of mine has referred to yesterday's Health Canada quote here in the Advocate as a "Flag". The quote was in regards to 1.5 million tonnes of asbestos being mined in Canada annually, principally in the province of Quebec. Health Canada also makes it clear that they know that asbestos cement pipe does slowly erode asbestos fibres into the water inside them.

So back to Woolwich staff and councillors. The councillors are part time. Some work full time, others are retired.The councillors at least, are not well paid.
Citizens and some councillors (not many) want to hold the line on tax increases. That is appropriate and credit should go in particular to Councillor Merlihan for his sincere efforts in that regard. Staff take direction from council as well as from the previously mentioned higher tiers of government. Staff are not doctors, medical researchers, water contaminant experts, toxicologists etc.. When Health Canada says a go slow policy of replacing asbestos pipes is O.K. then who are Woolwich staff to say otherwise? Similarly when our very own long discredited and long criticized Ontario Ministry of the Environment have not embraced the U.S. guidelines/criteria for asbestos in drinking water, then who are Woolwich staff to do otherwise?

I understand but I do not agree. I also hope that I have portrayed Councillor McMillan's words accurately. This is at best my understanding/interpretation of what he told me yesterday.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Two citizens that I am aware of, with two separate issues from mine (asbestos cement pipe), have advised me of a pattern of behaviour from Councillor Merlihan. Unfortunately my experience has now been similar. When questioned or pushed for either further answers or clarifications he refuses to do his job. He appears to be looking for the five minute answer and will take whatever the current staff position is. There is also a disconcerting appearance that he is not prepared to stand up for his constituents against staff or council positions. This is ironic considering his newspapers strong criticism of Woolwich councils both past and present especially in regards to budgets and spending.

Councillor Merlihan refused to respond to my repeated written requests regarding an update on the asbestos cement water pipes here in Elmira. I finally firmly but politely had to advise him of his duties and responsibilities as a Woolwich councillor yesterday morning. His response was amateurish, ignorant and rude including a small rant about this Blog and allegedly inaccurate information as well as small readership. Totally and completely irrelevant to the issue of asbestos cement water pipe in Elmira. I then e-mailed him back and made it clear that I interpreted his remarks as simply an attempt to avoid discussion or debate on this serious matter. He still has not answered any of my relevant questions and concerns nor has he even acknowledged the existence of reports contradicting claims of limited to no health issues with ingested asbestos fibres. These include U.S. EPA guidelines for asbestos fibres in drinking water (7 million fibres per litre) as well as confirmation that asbestos fibres increase the production of benign (at least initially) polyps in the colon..

Late last evening he responded to my lecture about his behaviour with a much smoother, polished, and polite response. He sent me links to Health Canada reports that claim that there is not evidence of health effects from ingested asbestos fibres. Unfortunately even the report dated June 2019 actually was showing Health Canada's 1989 and 2005 conclusions. The other links were also fifteen to seventeen years out of date. It does not please me to see our national Health Agency downplaying health effects of any substance. They also (strangely?) advise that "Canada mines approximately 1.5 million tonnes of asbestos annually, principally in the province of Quebec." Political interference anybody???

I will credit Health Canada with publishing the results of a survey of drinking water supplies at 71 locations across Canada. They estimated that based upon the survey that 5% of the population of Canada drink water with asbestos concentrations higher than 10 million fibres per litre. That is approximately 1 3/4 million Canadians. Is Elmira one of those communities?

Health Canada also confirm that asbestos cement water pipes contribute to asbestos fibres in drinking water although there are various factors such as alkalinity, ph and water hardness involved.

Councillor Merlihan has also advised me in writing that he will not respond to further e-mails regarding Asbestos cement pipe in Elmira. He feels that passing the problem on to Councillor McMillan is satisfactory. It may very well be so however the councillor is confused. That is not his prerogative. He works for us, not the other way around. Cutting and running when the company position doesn't hold water is not why we elected him nor why we pay him (albeit modestly).

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carried the following story titled "Supreme Court sides with woman detained in handrail dispute". What is horrific about this case is the complete lack of commonsense from the transit agency involved, the police officer involved, the Court of Quebec and the Quebec Court of Appeal. Lest anyone suggest that the problem with our courts is simply next door in Quebec let me assure you that our Superior Court in Kitchener screws up regularly. I believe that the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto makes fewer messes with justice but still does on occasion.

An adult woman was detained, arrested and charged by a police officer in Montreal. Her crime: she failed to hold onto the handrail while descending on an escalator. She responded that she did not feel that the Hold Handrail sign legally obligated her to do so and then refused to identify herself when so ordered by the police officer.

After the local municipal court acquitted her on the total of $420 from two tickets the officer issued her, she then sued. Being detained, arrested and handcuffed for failing to hold a handrail seemed excessive to both her and to the Supreme Court of Canada which blasted the police, the city and the two lower courts (Quebec & Quebec Court of Appeal). The Supreme Court said that there had been no offence or crime by simply refusing to hold the handrail and that as the alleged offence did not exist in law, she was perfectly entitled not to identify herself and to simply walk away if she so felt. She was awarded a small amount in damages and hopefully both the police and the lower courts have learned something. Unfortunately that might not include commonsense.

Monday, December 2, 2019


Anti-SLAPP legislation came to Ontario about ten years too late for me. My wife and I were sued for Libel because I publicly claimed that a teacher was unstable only after going to the principal, my trustee and then to a Superintendent at the Waterloo Region District School Board. The school board employees closed ranks and refused to help us or other parents in a similar situation. The irony is that a piece of the plaintiff's case was her medical records which indeed showed a long history of various mental ailments. My wife won in court despite us not having a lawyer and despite a biased, possibly incompetent judge (Robert Reilly). His behaviour during trial bordered on the illegal and the cowardly Kitchener-Waterloo Record who attended the entire trial refused to publish anything that went on during trial. Only after the decision was released months later did they publish the ridiculous and asinine decision of Judge Reilly.

Saturday's Waterloo Region Record has a story titled "Ontario court dismisses Subway's lawsuit against CBC". This story illustrates the principle in the anti-SLAPP legislation. SLAPP of course stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. The teacher's behaviour was adversely affecting a number of children in her class including my son. Public education is as obvious a matter of public interest as there could possibly be. That is the crux of the matter in this newspaper story as the CBC presented what they thought was accurate information to the public in their show "Marketplace". Unlike my case, Marketplace relied upon what turned out to be inaccurate information and were exonerated regardless due to the public interest aspects they were presenting..

In my case proper intervention hopefully by education professionals was needed but they refused to do any such thing. They lied like the dogs and cowards they are and then hid behind their taxpayer funded lawyers. Without a lawyer I clearly, with assistance from numerous parent witnesses, proved that my words were correct and my actions reasonable under the circumstances. The good judge, not satisfied with tilting the playing field against my wife and I at every opportunity, then in his decision exonerated my wife who not only had nothing to do with my actions and words but in fact had zero testimony produced at trial accusing her of anything. Just naming her in the lawsuit was outrageous and that alone should have made the judge order her to be paid costs from the Plaintiff. It did not because the Judge was an unrepentant ignoramus among other flaws.

I lost the decision because I didn't have power, money or influence. I also did not have the money to appeal the asinine decision which emboldened Judge Reilly as he already knew that. Both a coward and a bully. Despite all this no apology was given by me to the Plaintiff as none was deserved and not a nickel paid to the Plaintiff. All this was done legally after the fact partly with the assistance of pro bono (working for free) lawyers plus more. This Settlement was filed many, many years ago in Superior Court and I sincerely hope that Judge Reilly choked on it.

P.S. The link is to an older story about Subway's lawsuit against the CBC over their "Marketplace " story. The story from last Saturday did not come up in the Record Search Archives under the title they had on their Saturday story in the edition of the paper that I received.

Saturday, November 30, 2019


TAG membership are getting smarter and more technically experienced. Longer term Elmira specific experience is thin with just Sebastian and Susan. Currently there are I believe three hydrogeologists namely Tiffany Svensson, Katharina Richter (95% certain), and Dustin Martin as formal TAG members. A fourth hydrogeologist was present last Thursday with the attendance of Eric Hodgins of the Region of Waterloo. This is a huge change from the initial TAG membership in September 2015 which consisted of Sandy Shantz's political buddies (Pat & Susan) along with her curling buddies from the Elmira Curling Club. I have also recently complimented here TAG members Dave Hofbauer, Joe Kelly and Linda Dickson. Susan has a long history of private meetings, private dealings and questionable relationships with Uniroyal/Crompton/Chemtura and now Lanxess as well as with their consultants (CRA). This puts incredible pressure upon one individual (Sebastian) who is a full time academic worker raising a family here in Elmira. Along with her other "qualifications", Susan neither resides in Elmira/Woolwich nor is she a Canadian citizen. Just for the record.

This lack of strong and honest historical background I believe is intentional. It serves the purposes of Lanxess, GHD, MOE/MECP, and unfortunately of some Woolwich politicians. The current TAG members have good intentions and experience but with little background as to past remediation failures, coverups (DNAPL off and on site & more), scams, secrets and misinformation revealed; they can be manipulated and led in the direction the guilty parties want.

I am pleased to advise readers that I have now had my e-mail of Thursday November 14/19 responded to by all three recipients. The third councillor sent me an e-mail yesterday and has advised that he will get back to me. This is a relief on a number of fronts. Councillor Redekop has an excellent reputation and while I knew that he had been out of the country I was still disappointed in the complete lack of a response. I remain confident that between him and the other two councillors that some progress can be made on the asbestos cement waterline still being used on an ongoing basis here in Elmira. It does appear that this issue has been kept very quiet for a very long time by our various authorities. For example I've never read, seen or heard anything from the Region of Waterloo on this matter. True their responsibility is to provide clean water and the municipalities responsibility includes the distribution system. Nevertheless I would hope that an honest and sincere provider of hopefully clean water would step up and put pressure on municipalities regarding both lead and asbestos in our drinking water pipes.

As an aside why do I strongly suspect that no one has ever studied health effects of both lead and asbestos simultaneously in our water supply?

Friday, November 29, 2019


There was discussion at TAG about the possibility of somehow using the treated water from the Elmira aquifers. It was suggested that as the treated water has had NDMA, chlorobenzene and ammonia removed and is being dumped into the Canagagigue Creek that it does not exceed the Ontario Drinking Water Standards (ODWS). My only response is fine, if you want to drink water that likely still has 100 different toxic chemicals in it, mostly below the ODWS, then have at it. No thanks for me though.

David Hofbauer of TAG rather cheerfully made the quote of the meeting as far as I am concerned. He stated that the Off-Site Pump & Treat has been "horribly botched up from 2015 until 2020" (i.e. now). He further added that the pumping results have been "nowhere near what the system had planned." This is the kind of straight talk that both needs to be made publicly but that also needs to be reported by our media. Exactly zero media were present.

There was discussion as to how unusual has been the years long attempts to get the Trojan UV System up and running for well W9. Tiffany feels that it has been extraordinarily lengthy. Eric Hodgins (Region of Waterloo) commented that they the Region have always had difficulties with their UV treatment systems.

Dustin Martin (hydrogeologist) discussed issues dealing with final cleanup as well as specific questions that had been asked. He did not think much of the suggestion by GHD that active remediation will stop after 2025 because he like everyone else understands that the cleanup to drinking water standards will not be obtained by the mandated 2028.

There was both discussion about the hotspot at well OW 60 on Queen St. near Park Ave. and about "excess" chlorobenzene in the Municipal Aquifers. I believe the hotspot may be no more than a backyard mechanic decades ago dumping oil and grease down a home made "dry " well to get rid of it. That might explain how localized the NDMA is. As far as the "excess" chlorobenzene that is either free phase DNAPL that flowed from Uniroyal over to beside the Howard St. water tower or it came from Borg Textiles. Either source could have been determined years ago if the MOE or anybody else wanted to know. They didn't.

Mr. Martin also suggested that the Screening for Enhanced Technologies for Off-Site Groundwater Remediation ended up with no alternatives being retained for large scale remediation. This appeared to be self-serving and simply promoting CRA/GHD's longterm reliance on old fashioned Pump & Treat technology.

Mayor Shantz made her concerns clear about any public drinking water system being run by Lanxess. That was good to hear. David Hofbauer clarified that he meant that Lanxess should be financially running the system, not physically running it.

Early on in the meeting Sebastian asked a question regarding on-site pump & treat remediation. He expressed the fact that they really never seemed to mention it much less talk about it. Eric Hodgins responded and to my surprise mentioned former wells (PW1 & PW3) as being the current pumping wells. While I assume the rest of the TAG members didn't notice the error (should be PW4 & PW5) that certainly bolstered in my mind Sebastian's comment about how seldom the on-site system is discussed at TAG.

David Hofbauer gave an excellent talk about the 2018 Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) and the serious criticism of it by Cynthia Doughty of the MOE/MECP. David advised of half a dozen issues in the report where Ms. Doughty stated that the report was "missing data". Ms. Doughty also criticized how decommissioned wells are not explained or clarified in the report. The rationale for decommissioning them is poorly done. Also evidence demonstrating containment in aquifers is poor as is constantly changing monitoring wells which causes plume diagrams to alter year to year whether or not there has actually been a change. Ms. Doughty further criticized GHD's claims of false positives whenever they appear to have an unexpected high concentration of contaminants in the groundwater. Lastly she was not impressed with quarterly surface water levels supposedly being adequate to prove hydraulic containment in the shallow aquifer. In fact as David pointed out it clearly appears as if hydraulic containment in the shallow aquifer (UA) was lost from mid April to May 2018 as well as in September and December of that year.

Linda Dickson discussed the most recent Monthly Progress Report (October). Groundwater pumping was awful and part of the blame only had to do with a major power outage on the Lanxess property. In fact I reported on this Progress Report here in the Advocate earlier this week. The last three years have generally not achieved the higher Target Rates that they were supposed to. Yes they are pumping more than they used to years ago but it is their calculations as to how much they need to pump in order to achieve cleanup by 2028. We've known for years that they were in big trouble but this neverending failure to make their own Target pumping rates is adding insult to injury.

Thursday, November 28, 2019


It was two weeks ago today that I sent an e-mail to my favourite three Woolwich Councillors. Two of them have since contacted me, namely Pat Merlihan and Scott McMillan. The third was out of the country and may possibly still be so. Regardless not so much as a confirmation of receipt from him in two weeks. I will also add that to date the only response from Woolwich staff to me has been via an e-mail to Patrick that he sent along to me. Nevertheless I remain optimistic that Councillor McMillan is on the job although the lack of any information since his phone call of last Friday is concerning.

The e-mail from staff was much more enlightening than the initial verbal response to Patrick (Councillor Merlihan) which he relayed to me. This did occur after I assisted Councillor Merlihan in obtaining a copy of the presumed 1973 engineering drawing from Walter, Fedy, McCargar, Hachborn consulting engineers.The e-mail from staff included both a confirmation of remaining asbestos cement pipe in Elmira and a map indicating which streets. There was not, as requested, hard documentary evidence (formal engineering drawings for example) backing up the claim that there are only nine streets left in Elmira with remaining asbestos cement pipe delivering drinking water to residences or businesses.

Since that time I have been advised verbally (last Saturday) by Councillor Merlihan that no other towns or villages in Woolwich Township ever used asbestos cement pipe (AC or transite pipe).

I have sent further data to Councillor Merlihan namely on Nov. 23, 24, and 25. This data includes scientific reports discussing and describing peritoneal mesothelioma versus pleural (sp.?) mesothelioma which is asbestos induced abdominal cancer via ingestion versus asbestos induced lung cancer via inhalation. I have also sent medical information regarding polyps in the colon, whether benign or malignant and how the medical community views them all as problematic and that they should be removed sooner than later. Our three councillors are aware that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that ingested asbestos fibres do increase the production of polyps (benign) in the colon.

I understand that budgets are difficult to amend mid stream. Nevertheless the promised removal of just under one half of the alleged remaining asbestos pipes in the next three or four years seems to be doing less than the issue warrants now that we all have additional information as to the health issues. Woolwich Township citizens do not need to have additional cases of colon or other abdominal cancers that might have been avoided with more timely asbestos removal.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


This posting is in regards to the just received October 2019 Lanxess Progress Report. Both on and off site pumping are in the crapper. Neither on-site pumping wells, PW4 or PW5, made their Target Average pumping rates for the month. Three Off-Site pumping wells including E7 at the south end of Elmira achieved their Target Average and five did not. The monthly average total pumping rate is the second lowest so far in 2019 and just barely exceeds the average pumping rates seven years ago (Nov. 2012) when Chemtura and CRA advised CPAC that they needed to triple the pumping rates to achieve the 2028 deadline. Fat chance now of that happening.

Off-Site chlorobenzene and NDMA at pumping well W8 (Yara/Nutrite) are through the roof with 6000 parts per billion chlorobenzene and 13.25 ppb of NDMA. The drinking water standards are 80 and .009 respectively! At pumping well W9 chlorobenzene is low wheras NDMA is at 28.53 ppb. Meanwhile the pumping rates of both these wells are in the crapper. Good news though, the litany of excuses presented each month are changing.

Table D.1 indicates that unsurprisingly there is still DNAPL on site in well known and expected locations (OW83 & RPW-7) despite long standing false claims by Uniroyal/Lanxess and their consultants that it is not present. Concentrations of chlorobenzene are in excess of the 1% solubility rule despite interference from all the other dissolved contaminants in the groundwater.

Table C.2 continues to confound as the upstream Canagagigue Creek has an Arithmetic Mean of contaminant concentrations higher than the downstream Arithmetic Mean. Either they are magically reducing on-site discharges (unlikely with low pumping rates) or the upstream sources including Bolender Park Landfill are flowing like mad into the creek. The other possibility is that GHD have simply mislabelled the columns by putting SS-110 data into the SS +925 column. That wouldn't surprise me terribly.

All in all this is the result of thirty years of the tail wagging the dog while going through the motions of public consultation.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


It is my belief that two of the three Woolwich councilors I have had recent contact with (i.e. Merlihan & McMillan) are on the case (asbestos). Councillor Redekop I believe is still out of the country. In my original e-mail to all three I pointed out that they were my three favourite Woolwich councillors based upon history, first hand experience, and their reputations prior to being elected to council.

The TAG (technical advisory group) meeting for this Thursday at 5 pm. will be held as usual in Woolwich Council Chambers and is of course open to the public. Unfortunately both stakeholders with decades of experience as well as the general public are refused the right to either comment or ask questions unless of course you have passed the Woolwich loyalty test.

In yesterday's post here in the Advocate I indicated that I had sent my three favourite councillors on Sunday a number of articles dealing with asbestos cement pipe and the negative health effects arising from it. Then later yesterday I sent all three several more articles linking ingested asbestos fibres with peritoneal mesothelioma which basically is similar to pleural mesothelioma which is a specific cancer of the lungs caused by inhaled asbestos fibres. Peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer of the abdominal cavity caused by asbestos fibres being ingested via food, water, swallowing coughed up fibres etc.

It is my hope that these three councillors will light a fire under council and fast track removal of all remaining ageing asbestos cement pipe still in use in Elmira. Allegedly there isn't that much left. If on the other hand the Woolwich engineering department discovers that there is more than they originally believed then a formal removal/replacement schedule needs to be made and presented to the public.

To date I am aware of one other citizen who has sent an e-mail to councillor Merlihan on the matter and as well there have been comments by a second here on the Advocate.

The last two points I have for the benefit of councilors are these. There is a formal diagnosis and medical name for asbestos, caused by ingestion, abdominal cancer. It is peritoneal mesothelioma. There is also a formal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health related criteria of a rather astounding seven million fibres per liter of water. These fibres are microscopic and yes they have been found in American cities as well as in Winnipeg at much higher concentrations prior to remediation.

Monday, November 25, 2019


I view that as a very good sign. Councillor Merlihan continues to accept new information and data and he is asking appropriate questions as well. Yesterday I sent him and the two other councillors quite a number of articles dealing with asbestos cement water pipe as well as details regarding benign colon polyps becoming malignant. These articles emphasized that not all polyps become malignant (cancerous) but that the ones that do started out as benign. Therefore anything that produces polyps in the first place is bad for you. The U.S. EPA determined that people are at risk of increased polyps due to asbestos fibres being ingested. Clearly that includes asbestos fibres being ingested through drinking water being transported in ageing asbestos cement pipes.

One should also keep in mind that during colonoscopys any and all polyps discovered are routinely removed and then sent to determine if they are malignant or not. Removing these growths is clearly viewed as appropriate by the medical community. Therefore anything that increases the production of these growths in the human body is not good for us and increases our risk of getting cancer.

Other considerations include the age of the asbestos cement pipes in Elmira. They are well past their best before date as they are estimated to be between 59 and 88 years old depending on exactly when hey were installed. Regardless these pipes breakdown and release the asbestos fibres between 50 and 70 years after installation. I think that these pipes have paid for themselves long ago and should be removed as soon as possible.

Saturday, November 23, 2019


Perhaps there is some good news going on regarding this issue. Firstly two different Woolwich councillors have now contacted me on this asbestos matter and are on the job. It turns out that the third is out of the country and has been so for a while. Other good news is that a senior Woolwich staffer in writing has confirmed the use of asbestos cement (AC) pipe in Elmira and that some still remains in use delivering water. This is good news simply because one can never begin to address a problem until all parties are agreeing on at least a few aspects of the potential problem.

The written response while appreciated is however deficient in many aspects. It is much too brief and lacks more formal documentation such as Minutes, formal Engineering Reports with report numbers, dates etc. It is also clear that as of this date the Engineering Department (by whatever name) are claiming that asbestos pipes are not a health issue. That may be a serious problem based upon the literature I've read to date.

I did send off my concerns and further questions to the first councillor this morning and he has already called me back with some answers. Some of them seem reasonable others a little less so. The senior Woolwich staffer has advised that the only remaining streets with asbestos cement pipe in use are Martin's Lane, Dunke, Hampton, Park, Duke, Bauman, College, Queen, and Industrial Drive. Some of these streets only have AC pipe for part of their distance. The senior staffer also advised that the following streets are expected to be replaced with PVC piping over the next few years namely College, Bauman, Duke and Industrial Drive. The other streets are not apparently in the Township's plans for replacement at this time.

I have promised to send the information I have pertaining to both health issues (mesothelioma etc.) and to the lifespan of asbestos cement pipe to the first councillor asap. I will also continue to read and review the documents I have so far downloaded.

Friday, November 22, 2019


Firstly I found this article titled "Did Hamilton sewage secret put public at risk?" in today's Waterloo Region Record on page A7. I have gone on-line unsuccessfully in order to provide a link to the story. For me this story underlines the perverse and perverted thinking common among our political elites. The story revolves around Hamilton councillors knowing that 24 billion litres of sewage escaped undetected over a four year period from a sewer overflow tank into Chedoke Creek.

While signage had been posted from an earlier public spill the signage had not been removed long after that spill had either been cleaned up or diluted and gone downstream. A local resident was stonewalled with his questions to the appropriate authorities as to why the signs were still up and if indeed there was still a problem with persons coming in contact with the water whether from swimming, fishing or even boating. Indeed "Council repeatedly voted to keep the information secret over legal liability concerns...".

That is what really grinds me and I would suggest that there is a similar attitude among various councillors here in Woolwich Township. When faced with a problem that could adversely affect the public, some of our councillors go into turtle mode. In other words they hunker down, pull in their extremities and basically refuse to answer legitimate concerns and questions from the public who are or will be affected by the problem. In fact I would suggest that not only are public officials who hide information of risks to the public more likely to actually cause that physical harm to the public but they are also more likely to exacerbate their legal liability in the process. There is a general principle in law that persons who have discovered a threat to others health and safety must both inform them fully and take immediate steps to attempt to mitigate those risks. Private votes to keep risks secret to the public should result in either removal as councillors or even legal charges.

Contaminated drinking water, methane, asbestos all come to mind. How much more do we not even know about?

Thursday, November 21, 2019


Staff are hired by Department heads who report to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) David Brenneman. Mr Brenneman reports to either council as a whole or to the Mayor. Every four years the voters pick the mayor and councillors. Hence in theory the voters are the ultimate dog in charge and staff are at the bottom. Yet.... staff don't appear to be particularly in awe of council or even particularly respectful towards them. There is a disconnect here.

I have first hand seen Woolwich staff obfuscate at council meetings. That was in regards to methane issues at the Bolender Park Landfill. Yes I've also seen councillors and mayors lie to the public. I guess I've assumed that staff were stating untruths as they had been told by their superiors to do so. In my mind lying to councillors is the ultimate disrespect as is lying to the public. A past councillor has indicated that she was lied to more in four years as a councillor than in her entire previous life.

There was lying and deceit involved in regards to the replacement councillor (Julie Ann Herteis) in the spring of 2018. There was lying and deceit involved in regards to election financial statement irregularities. There was lying and manipulation involved in Woolwich Council's ill advised attempt to censor citizens from speaking at council meetings regarding Chemtura Canada (Uniroyal) in 2016. There has also been a ton of lying and manipulation from councils over the decades in regards to Uniroyal/Crompton/Chemtura/Lanxess as per my recently published on-line book titled "Elmira Water Woes: The Triumph of Corruption, Deceit, and Citizen Betrayal".

So in fact is there a culture of lying and deceit ingrained at Woolwich Township? Is there an attitude that we are in charge and the public need to trust us and butt out? Funny how inadequately Woolwich Township protected their citizens from contaminated drinking water during the 1970s and 1980s. Funny how inadequately they responded to Uniroyal's stinking out Elmira and especially Duke St. from 1998 to 2000. Funny how they covered up and fibbed to the public about methane issues in Bolender Park. Is the next big series of lies going to be about asbestos cement pipes in Elmira? Trust them? Feel free if you want to. I'm asking for clear and accurate documentation that indicates exactly where replacement/remediation of asbestos cement pipes has occurred and when.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Today's front page story in the Waterloo Region Record is titled "Freeze on water bottling proposed". Apparently the Doug Ford, Conservative government are recommending a nine month freeze on the issuing of any new water extraction permits. This moratorium includes both new and expanded permits to take water for bottling purposes.

Hard to believe but provincial Environment Minister, Jeff Yurek, is suggesting that the Progressive Conservative government wish to make their water extraction and bottling decisions based upon sound science. In other words they claim to want to only issue extraction permits where local aquifers are sustainable and will not be run down by commercial pumping and then bottling. Of course what may well be ignored is that all aquifers flow (albeit slowly) and eventually discharge to surface water bodies as in creeks, rivers, and lakes which also flow eventually to the ocean. Therefore any reductions in aquifer levels and volumes (depth) does reduce the quantity being discharged into local watercourses.

There is also the entire problem with believing any government much less a Conservative one in regards to environmental matters. The recent discussions that the provincial Conservative government have been having to "reduce red tape" for the aggregate industry is but one example. The government wish to reduce municipal input and control over gravel pits in their jurisdiction. That "control" is already severely limited by the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources ( & Forestry) and the Aggregate Resources Act.

Of course environmental groups and some municipalities will embrace this nine month moratorium although I suspect that they know this may be no more than window dressing and greenwashing i.e. politics at its worst.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


To date I have spoken in person with one of my Woolwich councillors on the matter. He was very helpful and straightforward which is exactly what I expect. The other two have not returned my e-mail from last Thursday. This includes not even a confirmation that they received it and are looking into the matter. I phoned all three councillors this morning and to date have only gotten hold of the one. The other two I left phone messages for, one two hours ago (9:30 am.) and the other one hour ago (10:30 am.) In my opinion five days without any response/confirmation is not acceptable.

The one councillor I spoke to while clear and straightforward advised me of the information that a Woolwich staff person had passed on to him. That information was essentially inaccurate as it did not clearly indicate that yes there was extensive use of asbestos cement pipes in Elmira, Ontario. There was a lot of feel good information about how much work the Township has done in replacing old piping in Elmira while carefully not confirming that they were replacing asbestos cement pipe also known as transite pipe. That is also unacceptable however I expect that now that this councillor has his own copy of the Walter, Fedy, McCargar, Hachborn consulting engineers drawing (73-08) clearly showing the use of asbestos cement pipe in Elmira and exactly where it is located, that Woolwich staff will be a little more forthcoming to this councillor.

I await calls back from the other two councillors.

Monday, November 18, 2019


Shannondale Developments out of Toronto are the new owners of the long abandoned and dilapidated site. Local real estate agent and landlord Andrew Spylo owned the site since 1998 and allowed it to fall further into disrepair. So much for local ownership being beneficial and more likely to respond to either city or neighbours concerns and complaints. The story was in last Friday's Waterloo Region Record and titled "Toronto developer buys former Electrohome site".

The crumbling 121 year old building will be demolished early next year "...so that cleanup of the contaminated soil beneath the building can begin...". Really? Has anyone, from the MOE/MECP, to the city, to neighbours ever suggested that cleanup had to wait for the building to be torn down? There are a myriad of technologies that could have and should have been employed DECADES AGO to both contain and remediate the contaminated groundwater and soil around this building. "The site is contaminated with some metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds, including trichlororethylene, an industrial degreaser.". Also "The studies of the site's contamination are more than 10 years old and will need to be redone.".

Indeed they will as these contaminants can migrate both as liquids in the groundwater as well as vapours in the soil. Trichloroethylene (TCE) is an infamous DNAPL (dense non aqueous phase liquid) chemical known to cause death and disease in humans. Famous cases include Woburn Massachusetts ("A Civil Trial"- starring John Travolta) and our own Bishop St. community in Cambridge, Ontario.

The real issue here and throughout Ontario are the loopholes and exceptions/exemptions which allow owners of contaminated sites to successfully avoid doing any remediation for decades. Local cities, the Region (Waterloo), and the province all prefer to wait until a property changes hands before remediation of the property is initiated. Part of the pretense likely includes the feeble hope that the contamination does not spread to adjacent properties. Rest assured that's most likely what's happened here and in many more cases. Whether the original studies optimistically suggested that the contamination either hadn't already spread or was unlikely to, that is precisely what all political parties wanted to hear and the lack of followup studies is simply to maintain credible deniability as to the extent, spread, or dissolution of the contamination throughout the aquifers and soils.

Saturday, November 16, 2019


Well I've been reading up even more this morning on the asbestos cement pipe issues in North America. My first thoughts make me wonder the wisdom of using transite (asbestos cement) pipe in Canada. Especially in Ontario and unbelievably in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Cast iron, copper, and steel pipes have their issues if not buried well below the frost line. Transite pipe is even less structurally sound and settling or heaving soil due to frost can cause major leaks. Past issues here in Elmira such as the I & I (inflow & infiltration) come to mind. Some of that was due to eavestroughs being hooked into sewage pipes and some was due to high groundwater levels infiltrating into sewage pipes through breaks and cracks in the pipe.

While the map documenting exactly where the asbestos cement pipes were originally laid makes it clear that this piping was used to deliver drinking water; a multitude of on-line articles and reports further confirm that fact. There are also reports on-line suggesting that the jury is still out in regards to the toxicity of asbestos when ingested. When breathed it is a known carcinogen. Other studies and experts on-line feel that the evidence is clear that asbestos does cause internal injury to human beings when ingested and as well when asbestos contaminated water is used to launder clothes. The asbestos fibres end up on the clothes and are then available to be inhaled.

What is also unfortunate is that according to some sources water utilities will deny any risk whatsoever through ingestion for fear of liability. Oh my: Lie to the public in order to save them massive tax increases to pay for lawsuits filed by those very same people.

Johns Manville attempted to rectify the problem of asbestos fibres getting into the drinking water by spraying a vinyl liner inside asbestos pipe. Much later they determined that tetrachloroethylene (PCE), an animal carcinogen at least, was leaching into the drinking water from the vinyl liner at measurable concentrations.

Other on-line reports suggest that the Canadian government is in a conflict of interest position in minimizing the risks of asbestos whatever the exposure route. This has to do with major economic benefits historically in Quebec due to asbestos mining. I believe that Asbestos, Quebec is named for their local deposits of the material.

Regardless there is a principle in environmental stewardship known as the "Precautionary Principle". When in doubt as to the safety of an item or product then assume the worst until it is proven innocent. If the item (eg. asbestos cement pipe) can not be proven to be safe then it has no business being manufactured and installed anywhere.

Friday, November 15, 2019


Drawing 73-08, drawn by R Crane on behalf of Walter, Fedy, McCargar, Hachborn consulting engineers, kitchener, ontario. That is the source of my information that asbestos cement pipe was used to transport water in Elmira. Various pipes and sizes were used including cast iron, copper, and steel. Supposedly there was even some plastic pipe although to date I haven't been able to find which specific street or streets have it. And yes asbestos cement pipe was used in water mains in numerous areas around Elmira. These areas include the downtown and the older residential areas in Elmira. They do not include Birdland or the Bristow Creek subdivision on the west side of Elmira along Church St. They do include and or are close to a number of schools. The appropriate location for the date of this map is not filled in. Whether the drawing number (73-08) perhaps refers to 1973 I do not know. My guess from looking at the map of Elmira and various missing subdivisions is that it was drawn between 1980 and 1990.

By googling asbestos cement pipe one can readily determine that asbestos cement pipe was never a good idea. In fact anybody with a brain at all should have been incredibly leery about using any product with asbestos in it for just about anything much less for water piping. The lethality of asbestos was discovered as early as the late 1800s. Yes it was around in Roman times and they paid the price for both lead and asbestos useage. Asbestos fibres get into the air and into people's lungs causing a disease called mesothelioma.

Asbestos cement pipe was manufactured and used heavily in towns and cities between 1931 and the 1950s. Twenty plus years of stupidity quite frankly, although I expect that our credentialed experts and professional engineers thought it was just dandy. Somewhat like bought and paid for engineers and psuedo hydrogeologists running the cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers.

Interestingly we the public are slowly becoming aware of the dangers of lead pipe transporting our water supplies. Not so much as a whisper however about asbestos cement pipe. The question for me is as to how much of this asbestos cement pipe has been removed or replaced by Woolwich Township to date. Maybe this is the hidden aspect of our special infrastructure fund. One thing I do know and that is that bald claims and reassurances from Woolwich Township staff and politicians are not worth the paper they are not written on. Even written claims of replacement/removal/remediation mean nothing without serious evidence and backup. I've been trying to get my questions answered regarding methane in and around Bolender Park for three years and all I've gotten from Woolwich is obfuscation, delay, disrespect and ignorance. The Ontario MOE/MECP are just as bad or worse.

P.S. To date I have passed along my findings to three Woolwich councillors first, followed by local media, and CPAC. I admit that giving the three councillors slightly less than 24 hours to do something is a little unrealistic. That said, a note or e-mail confirmation of receipt of my e-mail would have been nice.