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.

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