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 " 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.

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Progress on public transparency regarding methane from the former Bolender Park Landfill is painstakingly slow. A skeptic would think that this was intentional even though the Ontario Ombudsman has been on the job apparently for a very long time. I'm dealing with a Ronan O'Leary at the Ombudsman's office. Sort of that is. I sent him an e-mail back in early August asking for an update. He responded a month later and advised me that he is in discussions with Woolwich Township about their refusal to answer my fourty methane related questions and that he would get back to me when he has some substantive updates. That was two months ago and literally nothing. Really gives you confidence in our public institutions doesn't it when even the "regulators" appear to be stone walling?

A public update on the progress Woolwich Township is making in removing/replacing any lead pipes in Elmira as well as other communities in Woolwich Township would seem to me to be a good idea. It's not that I doubt Woolwich's priorities but sometimes it does appear that money for hiring more staff and or giving raises might be better used to replace toxic pipes among other priorities. Also today's Woolwich Observer (pg. 8) certainly takes Woolwich councillors to task for where they are spending our money.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


Yesterday the Waterloo Region Record carried the following Opinion piece from Luisa D'Amato titled "With a new plan to cut "red tape", Ford hurts his own rural base". Luisa quite interestingly ties in the basic contradiction facing both the Liberal and the Conservative Party. Their biggest donors are corporate Canada but it is the everyday middle and lower working classes who have the bulk of the votes. Therefore both these parties and maybe especially the Conservatives (showing my bias here) try to sell themselves to Ontario and Canadian voters while at the same time assuring corporate and business leaders who they are really working for.

Luisa accurately indicates that the aggregate industry are always lobbying and looking for fewer restrictions on what they view as their unbridled right to make money wherever they want and if the gravel is ten feet from your backyard that's just fine with them. O.K. maybe it's more accurate to say that Ms. D'Amato has connected the contradiction between fewer restrictions on the gravel industry and rural Ontario citizens having their quality of life damaged. Luisa suggests that water quality and gravel trucks on rural roads are the two big issues for those local residents. I would add noise and visual aesthetics. Gravel pits are ugly and do nothing to assist either tourism, heritage viewscapes or simply the inherent beauty of the countryside.

As Luisa states rural Ontario is the very heart of the Progressive Conservative support base. Wouldn't that be astounding if rural residents began to understand that the Conservative Party is a friend to the aggregate industry, not to them.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


I was going to title this post as the 30 year anniversary of the "destruction" of the Elmira wellfields however that would be inaccurate. It's not that I believe that they will be restored, it's that I believe they were destroyed a lot longer than thirty years ago. Relatively low concentrations of common if not ubiquitous solvents had been in the Elmira Aquifers for a very long time. What we don't know is exactly how long NDMA (& more) was in the aquifers because our Ontario Ministry of Environment (now MECP) didn't get around to testing for it until September 1989. Of course this is what we were told. That does not make it so and my experience over the last thirty years is that the MOE/MECP tend to keep a very tight lid on bad news that would make themselves look bad. This is all despite the fact that NDMA was known to be in the waste waters and in the air around Uniroyal Chemical for at least a decade prior to 1989.

There was no excuse for not testing for NDMA both in the closer to Uniroyal north wellfield as well as the further away south wellfield in 1979 or earlier. It is my opinion that the reason for this expansion of the well system to the south part of Elmira in the 1970s was because our authorities already knew that the north wellfield was either already contaminated or at severe risk of becoming so. If I am correct then the Ontario government was for all intents and purposes using the citizens of Elmira as guinea pigs or lab rats if you will. How many other signature chemicals from Uniroyal Chemical are we unaware of? How many of them were in the drinking water along with NDMA long before November 1989?

Today is likely not the exact day that the MOE/MECP in 1989 announced the presence of NDMA in the south wellfield. It may not be the exact day that the Region of Waterloo shut down wells E7 and E9 in the south wellfield. This whole month for me marks the anniversary of our government's failure to do their job. Keep also in mind that while the Elmira wellfields have been shut down for thirty years, our government continues to bafflegab us. They suggest that 2028 is the thirty year anniversary of the remediation of the Elmira Aquifers to drinking water standards. That is not going to happen whether or not they call 2028 the 30 year anniversary or the 39th anniversary of the shutdown. It took them nine years to begin the second class off-site pump and treat remediation as it did not start until the summer of 1998. Just more and more delay combined with more and more horse manure.

Monday, November 11, 2019


The Cambridge Advocate ( has picked up my book and has it on its website in its entirety. By this I mean they have posted the full Title, a brief few flattering comments, the Table of Contents for Chapter 1 and then the entire text of Chapter 1 followed by the Endnotes for the chapter. For the uninitiated, endnotes are simply footnotes that instead of being placed at the bottom of the page where they occur are instead put all together at the end of the chapter. Following all of this are the links to each individual chapter which I had posted on my Waterloo Region Advocate blog starting at chapter 2 and finishing at chapter 27.

The Cambridge Advocate can be accessed via Google, via the above mentioned web address, or via the link on the right side of this page that I have had in place for nearly the last decade. I am appreciative that the Cambridge Advocate have posted my book for a number of reasons. Firstly any broadening of the base of readership is a very good idea. The purpose of my spending two and a half years on this project was to document the truth, as ugly as it may be. Secondly it is important that citizens, young or old, new or old, learn that our governments have lost their way. Some tasks they do very well, others in a mediocre fashion, and in my opinion when it comes to puffery, self-aggrandizement, and covering up their failures, they are world class. The third reason that I am appreciative of the Cambridge Advocate is that their format is much easier to see and access than mine. Basically the way I posted my book on the Waterloo Region Advocate was chapter 1 first on September 15/19, followed with a separate posting for each chapter, ending at chapter 27 on October 12/19. Therefore one needs to access my Waterloo Region Advocate ( archives and scroll backwards to get to chapter 1 etc.

I understand that politicians and governments can not take on, much less resolve all our problems, but I do not understand their incessant need to pretend to be able to do so much more than they actually can. I can not understand, abide, nor tolerate blatant obfuscation from our elected governments at any level. I would far prefer that they admit that certain matters are out of their control or simply are too big for them to successfully tackle. My book may not be an easy read for some. It documents and as much as possible presents evidence, testimony, and even professional opinion as to the truth and how far from it our authorities have strayed in regards to the Elmira Water Crisis of November 1989.

Saturday, November 9, 2019


The following report dated October 31/19 was sent to me yesterday courtesy of the TAG/RAC Support Specialist. Cynthia Doughty is the MOE/MECP hydrogeologist and I have been very impressed with several of her comments and critiques of GHD and Lanxess efoorts and reports. This one is also very interesting.

On page 3 of her report Ms. Doughty criticizes the lack of consistency by GHD (Lanxess consultants) in reporting the number of containment wells in the Upper Aquifer Containment System. She quotes different sections of the AMR as having different numbers of containment wells.

On page 4 we learn that one of the only two deep monitoring wells on the former Varnicolor site (MW 41) was included in a chlorobenzene plume map. She is curious as to why a non-routine well was suddenly used for a plume map drawing. As to myself I find the fact that Lanxess/GHD are using a well result from the former Varnicolor Chemical site (Union St.) in an Elmira contaminant plume map to be long overdue and a tacit admission that data from that property is part of the Elmira Aquifers and should long ago have been both relevant to the overall cleanup and that the data is public information and should not have been intentionally kept hidden from both the general public and from long time stakeholders such as myself and CPAC.

On this same page Ms. Doughty discusses seasonal losses of hydraulic containment in the Upper Aquifer Containment System (UACS). She also suggests that there are areas of the creek which are not sampled regularly enough to conclude that Upper Aquifer groundwater is contained in those areas. On page 5 Ms. Doughty elaborates noting local losses of hydraulic containment in September, December (potential), April and May 2018. She believes that these need to be better discussed in the AMRs. She also rather bluntly takes GHD to task for gilding the lily (my words) by stating in the AMR that "the UACS continues to prevent the discharge of contaminated UA1 groundwater to the Creek beneath the southwest portion of the Site". She states that this statement "is not accurate."

On page 6 Ms. Doughty questions why wells W6A and W6B are experiencing decreased well efficiency after just being commissioned in 2017. Both these wells failed to achieve their Target pumping rates in 2018 and she feels that the AMR should be providing a detailed explanation as to the problem.

My only concern or disagreement with Ms. Doughty is in regards to her point number 21. She is inquiring as to the purpose of pumping well W8 and it's low pumping rate. While I too would like to see a higher pumping rate nevertheless the purpose appears very clear as this location is a hot spot for both NDMA and chlorobenzene.

Overall I believe that this is an excellent critique and only regret Ms. Doughty's willingness to give GHD/Lanxess so much time to respond including in next spring's 2019 Annual Monitoring Report (AMR).

Friday, November 8, 2019


The October 1991 "sweetheart deal" gave Uniroyal Chemical what they wanted namely a cap on how much they had to clean up despite wording suggesting that liability for "new" (i.e. currently unknown) contamination could still be assigned to them. In exchange for the since proven nonsensical position that Uniroyal and Uniroyal alone had contaminated the Elmira Aquifers, the M.O.E. gave them a "cleanup" that they could live with. Also the M.O.E. were let off the culpability hook with this agreement as the ending of the Environmental Appeal Board hearings stopped Uniroyal's upcoming testimony against them in its tracks. Since then both Nutrite and Varnicolor Chemical have been proven to have contributed toxic chemicals to the municipal aquifers. Nutrite contributed ammonia while Varnicolor at the minimum contributed an even half dozen different solvents as indicated in the Risk Assessment presented publicly in Woolwich Council Chambers in May 2016. Most likely Varnicolor contributed NDMA as well although M.O.E. corruption and collusion has kept the evidence of that very quiet.There were and are of course even more contributors who operated negligently all under the umbrella of Elmira's mini chemical valley on the east side of town (Union St.). To date all efforts to cover them up have been successful although increasing numbers of citizens are beginning to ask questions.

The big problem with coverups is that they are inevitably lies and if even one person knows the truth then others will as well. The goal is to undermine and minimize the voice of those in the know so that the vast majority of citizens are kept in the dark as much as possible. Even if they can't keep the coverup intact forever, time is their friend. Guilty parties retire and guilty parties pass on. The main goal is not only self-preservation of one's credibility and reputation but also to maintain the status quo. This is why politicians and other authority figures in the know go along with these lies. They all are constantly trying to reduce public knowledge and understanding of the extent of incompetence, negligence, and corruption that pervades our allegedly democratic system. Hence hiding Ministry of Environment (M.O.E.) culpability in the Elmira Water Crisis is a priority.

Thursday, November 7, 2019


Yesterday's post regarding lead in our drinking water and especially in highly vulnerable children's drinking water has pointed out a few things to me. Firstly tap water is not inherently safe despite our most wishful and hopeful thinking. Vigilance has never been more important.Secondly it may well be time that we revisit the purposes of having governments collecting our tax money and then spending it as they see fit. There is also a third issue. Trust. We are supposed to be able to trust our democratically elected representatives to be honest and straightforward with us. The number of people interviewed during the testing and studies of lead in tap water in schools in particular has been an eye opener. So many of these people have stated that school boards, municipalities, and health departments all knew about lead exceedances in school drinking water and still refused to make that information readily available to students and parents attending those schools. What the hell!

The second issue is one of ideology. Conservatives are for smaller governments. They do not believe that every issue is necessarily one that governments should be involved in. I could go along with that if only they didn't also decide to save taxpayers dollars by making cuts on the big dollar items such as health care, environmental protections (O.K. that is my wishful thinking), education. Hmm... maybe I have seen the occasional school board opulence and or recent dollar amounts paid to in particular, top of the scale, teachers. More basically perhaps things like culture, multiculturalism expenditures, new opulent courthouses, ION trains etc. should not be top of the list spending as they seem to be. How about fixing (removing) the damn lead pipes in the ground first.

Tap water, especially in Ontario, is better protected than it has ever been. So how has this lead issue not been fixed? Two reasons namely : 1) cost- very few votes gained by spending tax money underground as previously mentioned and 2) transparency- our authorities really, really like to hide bad news from us. Out of sight, out of mind. Poison our children now and let the next government pay the piper when it gets out. The current Annual (Drinking) Water Reports are marginally being improved. More needs to be done including simple things like increasing the number of compounds being tested for. There are far too may ubiquitous industrial chemicals and compounds being ignored. Also cut out the gamesmanship in some of the testing. Numerous municipalities advised their citizens to run their tap water for five minutes BEFORE taking a sample of their tap water for testing. The lead that leached into the water in the pipes is removed temporarily by five minutes of flushing thus artificially lowering the concentration of lead found via this means of testing.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


Very strange. Why is there an excellent on-line article dated yesterday (Nov. 5/19) in today's K-W Record titled "Does your child's school have dangerous levels of lead in the water? Search our database", that was not in today's morning edition hard copy Waterloo Region Record? That said there was however an excellent article in yesterday's Record titled "Canada's water isn't as clean as it looks? That article is also about recent lead levels found in drinking water across Canada. All of this underscores my long term criticism of tap water. Here in the Region of Waterloo we are apparently following the dictates of the Ontario Clean Water Act and quite frankly they aren't half as stringent or transparent as they should be.

I've now read both of these reports and I am appalled. Is this how our elites and wealthy families who dominate the political landscape maintain their status and power via ignoring public health issues that seriously negatively impact upon the cognitive development of much of society's young? These cognitive developments have been measured and show direct impacts on I.Q. tests for example. They also affect speech, memory, coordination, and a host of serious physical issues caused by young children being exposed to lead. Or on the other hand are our financial elites just as blissfully unaware of these horrible health impacts on everyone's children including their own? What is clear is that our institutions and authorities have known this information for years and have carefully kept it out of the public domain for a very long time.

This public health crisis has been growing as lead pipes, lead solder, and even lead in fixtures has been slowly leaching into the water. Lead concentrations in drinking water vary widely across Canada but basically every city, every older school and every older home are impacted. Even newer homes in older subdivisions that still have old lead pipes as part of their infrastructure are at risk. Some municipalities have been slowly replacing these lead pipes when they are doing road excavations or other infrastructure updates. This is not enough by half.

Short term mitigations are possible such as schools that are closed for weekends, summer and Christmas holidays have serious flushing occur prior to reopening. The lead apparently leaches into the water at a greater rate when the water is stagnant i.e. been sitting for longer periods in the pipes. This is not remotely a "fix" but simply a short term mitigation until the offending pipes, fixtures, solder etc. has been removed. Perhaps even more important is public knowledge. Schools, governments, and the media need to get the message out especially to parents of young children. Schools must be transparent and keep parents in the loop if and when lead tests reveal exceedances at their schools.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


I am very pleased with a couple of metaphors that I introduced into yesterday's post titled " Public Opposition to the Alleged "Cleanup" & SSRA to Justify It". The zombie apocalypse metaphor was dead on, no further explanation needed. Similarly I enjoyed the metaphor of the biased judging that has on occasion plagued various skating competitions. Regarding environmental issues here in Elmira the judges have been and continue to be biased as they are bought and paid for by the polluter. It is a blatantly circuitous and incestuous relationship with the guiltiest parties having the most authority and control over the remediation necessary to at least somewhat restore our damaged environment.

Most municipal councillors are out of their depth on so many municipal issues whether they be taxes, budgets, planning issues, zoning, infrastructure and more. Then throw in environmental issues of complexity and significant detail and councillors most likely simply follow the leader. Whoever on council can best pretend to understand those issues and speak knowledgeably leads council. Unfortunately those council members may simply be best equipped at faking competence and manipulating fellow members rather than be either honest or knowledgeable brokers.

Lastly yesterday I continued the skating competitions metaphor with a discussion of stakeholders sitting in the stands. Again overall I feel that the metaphor is a good one with one slight clarification. I suggested that there was occasional, polite criticism from some of those stakeholders sitting in the stands. Upon rereading my comments I felt that one could interpret my words as a criticism of that polite criticism. In fact I understand that in your face criticism simply is not the Canadian way and it exceeds the comfort level of many honest members of TAG for example, especially newer members who have not been exposed to literally decades of deceit and obfuscation from the guilty parties. Therefore let me be clear. Several TAG members and Chair have been blunt and straightforward with their concerns and criticisms of both Lanxess's and GHD's positions and recommendations and I fully support those well reasoned and thought out positions that TAG have expressed.

Monday, November 4, 2019


Last Wednesday I sent a three page e-mail to the TAG Chair (Tiffany) as well as to the Tag Support Specialist (Lisa), and to TAG members Sebastian, David and Joe. Lisa has since confirmed that she has forwarded it along to the rest of the TAG members. My e-mail was a down to earth listing of my basic concerns and criticisms in regards to a recent document from Lanxess's consultants, GHD, titled "Re-evaluation of Canagagigue Creek Contaminants of Potential Concern-Version 2". A day or two later I sent my three page e-mail to CPAC members and this morning I forwarded it along to both Lou Almeida of GHD as well as to Jason Rice of the MOE/MECP.

I also posted the text of this e-mail here in the Advocate last Wednesday. My overall complaint is that fundamentally flawed studies and investigations carry on with a life of their own despite major, fundamental flaws that should halt the process in its tracks. Instead these reports, data, and conclusions carry on to the next step in the process with nothing more than vague promises to take the fundamental flaws into consideration and later address them appropriately. It's like the zombie apocalypse whereby beheading, stabbing, shooting, and burning zombies only upsets them but doesn't stop them from staggering on and creating carnage wherever they stumble.

It also reminds me of certain ice dance competitions whereby four judges out of five assign a 8.3 to a Russian competitor while the fifth assigns a 9.6 grade. Of course the fifth judge is Russian. The only difference regarding the quality of investigations, reports, and purported scientific study of the Canagagigue Creek, the Elmira Aquifers, and the still grossly polluted Uniroyal/Lanxess site is that four of the five judges are Lanxess/GHD employees and the fifth is a Ministry of Environment (MOE/MECP) employee.

Of course the Township, the Region, TAG, RAC, CPAC, and the general public are all allowed to sit in the very chilly stands and applaud. Any stakeholder who boos or jeers will be escorted from the premises for unsportsmanlike conduct. This metaphor sums up the attitudes of those in charge despite occasional, polite criticism from various folks sitting in the stands who do not want to give up their seats no matter how uncomfortable.

Saturday, November 2, 2019


It is one of the less noble aspects of both the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties although somewhat more obvious with the Conservatives. That is especially so when you recall that the Liberals under Katherine Wynne raised the minimum wage to $14 per hour and had it scheduled to then rise to $15 per hour last January until the Conservatives cancelled it.

Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carried the following opinion piece by Patty Coates of the Ontario Federation of Labour titled "Kinder, gentler Ford government doesn't extend to workers". She is commenting upon the recently more conciliatory aspects of the Doug Ford government since the legislature returned from it's five week hiatus.

Ms. Coates points out that temporary workers in particular are facing government discrimination in that when they are injured or killed on the job, the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) are not allowed to attribute the costs of claims to the host employer rather than to the temp agency. In this manner, irresponsible companies can avoid higher insurance premiums and perhaps even greater scrutiny for the healyh and safety records.

Ms. Coates points out one company in particular whom she feels has taken advantage of loopholes in workers' health and safety rights. That company is Fiera Foods. She states that Enrico Miranda was the fifth worker to die on the job at Fiera or one of its affiliated companies in the past twenty years. Particular quotes from Ms. Coates that I agree with include "If an employer's negligence kills a worker, they should go to jail."and after a family member has died on the job that "Their family deserves to know the police have done more than rule out foul play, that they have looked at criminal negligence by the employer as a possible cause."

One does not have to be a genius to read between the lines. The Conservative Party (& the Liberals) collect the gravy train of corporate donations on an ongoing basis. Those corporate donors want total exemption from as many business risks as possible including negligence claims from injured workers or family members of the deceased. At the same time many companies do not spend the time or money to make their workplaces safe. New and young workers are especially vulnerable to hazards in the workplace although unfortunately even older, more experienced workers also are injured and die on the job. This can be vastly improved but not as long as the "us" versus "them" attitudes prevail in the workplace courtesy of weak and inadequate laws and follow up enforcement.

Friday, November 1, 2019


Today's Waterloo Region Record carries the following Opinion piece from Susan Koswan titled "Our water should not be for sale". Susan is promoting the use of " and affordable drinking water." over single use plastic water bottles. Ms. Koswan is suggesting that municipal tap water is generally safe and affordable. I am glad to see however that she does point out that there are indeed pitfalls even with municipal tap water as she mentions notable failures in Walkerton, Elmira, and Grassy Narrows Ontario. I would suggest that the list of municipalities with less than "safe" much less pristine tap water is longer. At the same time while I believe that the testing of tap water is far from perfect it is far more extensive than testing done on bottled water which in theory at least is taken from better (i.e. less industrialized) source areas.

Ms. Koswan also promotes two local organizations namely Save Our Water and the Wellington Water Watchers both of whom advocate for better, safer water and against Nestle Inc. who aggressively extract and sell bottled water. I have met and dealt with a number of members of Wellington Water Watchers in the past and found them to be excellent. I expect that members of Save Our Water are equally dedicated.

Currently there is a ban on new water bottling operations in Ontario which expires on December 31 of this year. There is a meeting open to the public (register on-line due to seating limitations) on November 11 from 7-9 pm. in the atrium at Renison University College.