Monday, July 31, 2023


 I wish I could confirm that information passed on to me recently. I've been on-line twice looking at the Agenda for this Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting of Woolwich Council. I don't see anything on the Agenda even remotely suggesting a Delegation or Presentation by the Region of Waterloo yet my reliable source tells me otherwise. Is this just one more way to keep these issues on the downlow? i.e. don't put them on the Agenda until the last minute if at all.

My experience is that sometimes the size of the whopper is in direct proportion to the size of the audience present. Hence if the Region do not see many at this Council meeting, which I believe is now supposed to be open for the public without the asinine pre-registering,  then they might be encouraged to continue to bluff their way forward. On the other hand maybe they've already decided to bite the bullet and realize that the only thing worse than admitting that Uniroyal Chemical's contamination indeed migrated off-site more than just to the south-west would be to be caught red handed lying about it. Personally I and our authorities know that Uniroyal's contamination leaked eastwards onto the Stroh farm and probably westwards onto the former Nutrite/Yara property. No surprise to me if it also leaked off-site northwards.


Saturday, July 29, 2023


 I've been in possession of some outdoor subsurface vapour readings for a while now.  As of today I've got some indoor vapour readings and I find them alarming. Interestingly the MECP had only sent TCE (trichloroethylene) indoor readings to this particular homeowner. He requested the complete lab reports and received them promptly. They tell a somewhat different story with a multitude of low level readings from quite a few chemicals of differing toxicities. The outdoor readings are from vapour probes installed in streets and possibly boulevards for numerous streets between the former IMICO foundry on Beverley St. and the Eramosa River. These outdoor vapour probes have concentrations in excess of the criteria for TCE routinely and for Vinyl Chloride (VC) a breakdown product of TCE just once.

The problem arises with the fact of the very high readings in the soils around these older homes. Vapour intrusion occurs depending upon the integrity of the poured concrete foundations or even the concrete block foundations in older homes. Also any seals around in and out going water pipes, sewer pipes, elecrical, gas etc. can permit toxic vapours to enter if they are presnt in the nearby soils. Keep in mind each and every house will have greater or lesser resistance to vapor intrusion based upon the factors listed as well how many windows are open etc.

Friday, July 28, 2023


 Yes I did receive and read about 1200 pages of information pertaining to the reconstruction of Church St. East but as indicated here my and other CPAC members questions were not addressed. My response yesterday to Boris Latkovic was critical but in hindsight instead of leaping into the reports offered and then being disappointed that they did not address our legitimate concerns and questions perhaps I should have been less trusting that the answers were within. 

So where are we now? We have a ton of written info, lab analyses and more that are somewhat interesting in their own right. Also I believe that the 1200 pages shows a bias against Uniroyal Chemical being the source of BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes) chemicals in nearby soils along with PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) such as benzoapyrene, anthracene etc. This is my opinion based less upon what is specifically said and more upon that which is not said. Uniroyal Chemical is not named nor given it's due as a MAJOR polluter on a major scale and all the while it shares several hundred metres of property line with Church St. (Hwy #86).

So was Boris simply stalling and deflecting by sending me the 1200 pages or is he really a nice guy at heart who knows how much I generally enjoy reading technical reports? Should I have been upset with him when none of the answers were clearly given in the reports? Maybe my attitude should be that his and the Regions (& MECP) failures to date to answer simple questions actually is the answers themselves. For example I've asked if there has been any lab analysis proving that coal tar macadam (paving) was present. The non answer means NO!. Has there been any technical reports, lab analyses etc. that definitively tie the benzene found in nearby soils to the alleged coal tar paving? The non answer combined with the NO answer to the presence of coal tar paving means NO! Does the Region have any legitimate technical reports that prove that old, buried coal tar paving leaches toxic chemicals into the natural environment? Again the non answer means NO!

Same thing with PAHs. Has the Region got any proof that they came from alleged only coal tar paving (macadam)? The non answer is NO! etc. etc. So how long can the Region and the MECP stonewall us? Are they furiously writing up new reports as we speak to justify their verbal claims? Is it possible that they actually believe their own theory or have they been caught red handed lying to the public presumably to assist in the ongoing coverup around the Uniroyal Chemical and Lanxess Canada mickey mouse cleanup? Or is there some other reason why they are all being so obtuse on this matter? I do not see general disrespect or apathy as being the cause. Right now their credibility is on the line as is the MECP's yet again.   

Wednesday, July 26, 2023


Environmentalist Pat Potter I'm told used to attend public environmental meetings wearing a T shirt that stated "They all lie."  Well now that's pretty blunt isn't it? My understanding was that she was literally referring to every party and stakeholder at the meeting from the Ministry of Environment, to the owners of contaminated sites, to consultants representing different parties...well you get the picture. 

So do I believe that either the Region of Waterloo or the Ministry of Environment have recently lied to us the public? Well something sure seems off that much I can say. Now I haven't sent follow up questions yet back to the Region but if I did they would go something like this: "Where the #uck is the coal tar paving?" "Where the &uck is the tar macadam?"  "Where the *uck is the old road layer that I was told about?"

Approximately 1200 pages later and on page 10 is a brief statement advising that only two boreholes have contaminated soil namely BH22-7 and BH22-8. This contaminated soil has a petroleum smell and also is stained black.  No word in the text about coal tar paving. No word in the Borehole Logs or Stratigraphic report about old, buried asphalt or coal tar pavement. Nothing in the various Tables or Figures describing anything at all such as a former road being either found or dug up. The Borehole Logs refer to every day normal clay, sand, gravel, topsoil and silt. These Borehols extend to about 4.5 metres below ground surface and I repeat: NOTHING!

So did Boris Latkovic of the Region of Waterloo lie to me, Dr. Holt, the public etc? I guess I'll send him a sharp e-mail asking that question. I wonder if  I will believe his answer?   


Well at first glance (ha!) benzene was detected along with several other chemicals. Granted it is early days yet but so far I haven't found any claims of coal tar paving being found which is odd when you recall the e-mail from Lubna (MECP) claiming that coal tar paving was the problem and the source of benzene leaching into the soil which was removed.  The really good news right now of course is that the Region have provided almost everything requested plus lots more. 

I have sent a Thank You e-mail to Boris (RMOW) effusively expressing my appreciation. That e-mail of course was cc'd to all the other stakeholders including CPAC, Woolwich Observer, public, four Woolwich councillors, TAG, RMOW and MECP. As part of their road repairs/updates the Region (RMOW) looked at local conditions and businesses that could have environmental consequences upon their project and hence some of their soil testing was adjusted accordingly. To date I can not yet be certain if any signature Uniroyal chemicals were included in some of their testing. 

Indirectly I suspect that at least a couple of CPAC's (Citizens Public Advisory Committee) questions remain unanswered such as Rich Clausi's question as to whether the remaining soil in place has been certified as clean.. Also to date I have not seen any rationale or scientific reports suggesting that old, buried coal tar paving can leach benzene or other compounds into the natural environment. Also I see no explanation or suggestions to date in the reports attributing the benzene to coal tar paving or to anything else. Of course I still have lots of reading to go so I'd better get at it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023


 Two companies located adjacent to a grossly contaminated site (IMICO) on Beverley St. appealed a Certificate of Property Use (CPU)  document issued to the City of Guelph who are the owners of the former International Malleable Iron Co. (IMICO). From what I can make out a CPU possibly is issued either after or instead of a Record of Site Condition (RSC) which the MECP usually issues to properties that have been allegedly adequately cleaned up and are ready for redevelopment. Personally I'm not impressed with RSC's so you can imagine what I think of CPUs which I guess are supposed to have conditions attached acknowledging a certain level of further monitoring or work required.

The two companies at 10 Kingsmill Dr. and 490 York St. are downgradient from IMICO and apparently have had trichloroethylene (TCE) migrating from IMICO onto their properties for a long time. IMICO has been studied and researched to death for over thirty years with 490 York much less and 10 Kingsmill even less than 490 York. That said as I understand it there have bee Phase 1 and Phase 2  Environmental Assessments done on those properties as well as some monitoring wells installed. 

 The Kingsmill and York St. properties have won Leave To Appeal from the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). They will be appealing the CPU issued to the City of Guelph for their IMICO property on the basis that no reasonable person (i.e. MECP Director) would have issued such a weak and unreasonable document. Apparently the CPU simply fails to address the known migration of TCE onto these two other properties. Keep in mind that this is the Decision of the OLT. You should read the other comments and statements including bias, incompetence, 

Earlier on these companies claimed that the MECP were retaliating against their actions of appealing the CPU to the OLT by issuing both Provincial Officer's Reports against them followed by a Director's Order demanding increased significant cost and work be done on their properties allegedly to get a better understanding as to whether or how much they may have contributed to their own on-site contamination.  These companies and their lawyers are taking no prisoners and their allegations of personal vindictiveness and perhaps even bullying by the MECP are quite shocking.  

Monday, July 24, 2023


 Still waiting. Frankly I am doubtful that all the documents requested from the Region/MECP actually exist. Seriously what is to stop the Region from finding off-site (northwards) Uniroyal Chemical pollution , reporting it to the MECP and asking for direction. Now keep in mind that the Region also signed a private agreement with the Ministry of Environment (MOE) back in the day. This agreement likely covered extra costs above the water pipeline paid by Uniroyal and may even have covered various unexpected down the road issues say like new off-site pollution as an example. 

So with their agreement in mind would the Region balk if the MECP suggested look let's not raise a can of woms (i.e. northward off-site contamination), let's just blame old, buried coal tar paving for the necessary cleanup? Now of course if I'm wrong then then both parties should be very quickly coughing up the lab reports they claim to have. Now there is yet another scenario possible. Maybe coal tar paving was found and removed out of an abundance of caution and both parties have simply lied to the public about having sent any soil samples or more for labratory testing.  

Swinging over to IMICO (International Malleable Iron Co.) they are currently subject to an OLT (ontario Land Tribunal) hearing regarding the MECP's three decades plus mishandling of toxic contamination. They and the City of Guelph who own the property want it developed into "affordable housing"  and they appear willing to jump through all kinds of hoops and loops, not necessarily in the public interest, in my opinion. This "affordable housing" even includes no residential homes below the second floor (i.e. off the ground) as well as more contaminated areas being used for common outdoor areas ( park, picnic, playgrounds?). It's hard to imagine DDT and dioxin contaminated soils here in Elmira being developed into residential housing but IMICO has petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and trichloroethylene (TCE) in their subsurface so who knows.  

Saturday, July 22, 2023


 So I sent a second e-mail today to two folks at the Region (Boris & Jenn) as well as two at the Ministry (i.e. MECP-Jason & Lubna). Basically I was reminding them of three or four questions that CPAC members have in regards to the alleged benzene contamination in the soil nearby the alleged old, buried coal tar pavement. I even went so far as to ask whether the Region had actually confirmed via testing or however that it was indeed coal tar pavement that they dug up. Also I strongly hinted that the Region's assumption that benzene in nearby soils came from the alleged coal tar paving was pretty nervy considering the long history of benzene handling and mishandling at the Uniroyal Chemical site. Following that I listed a number of benzene compounds and their use in aniline production as well as waste disposal locations on the Uniroyal site.

I also advised both parties that the Woolwich Observer had published a good story on Thursday and that I was then interviewed by their reporter after the first story was published. Perhaps to help keep the Observer keen on the story I included two of their names in the list that the Region and MECP should be responding to. It is always shocking to me how government bureaucracies and bodies feel that taxpayer funded reports etc. should be kept secret from not only the general public but even from local stakeholders.

Friday, July 21, 2023


 Six days and no response to me or CPAC members from my e-mail and formal complaint to the Min. of Environment (MECP) last Saturday. Yesterday's Woolwich Observer had a front page story on the alleged old contamination found in the subsurface soils beneath Church St. E. Interestingly the word coal tar is not in the story despite Lubna Hussain's (MECP) e-mail to myself indicating that the old roadway was constructed with coal tar paving (i.e. macadam). 

Right now we have verbal information from the Region (Boris Latkovic) and a brief e-mail from the MECP telling us that the issue is benzene found in soils nearby the old, buried coal tar pavement. This is not good enough as Elmira has a history of being misled and lied to about contamination including the spread of NDMA in our aquifers over thirty years ago. We were also lied to about it being all cleaned up within thirty years. There is absolutely no reason that either the Region or the MECP can not share the lab results with the public, the media and very knowledgable and experienced CPAC members unless of course they have something to hide. 

Thursday, July 20, 2023


 Five days now since I responded to the Region, four Woolwich Councillors (out of six) and the MECP (Min. of Environment). Nothing back! Naughty! The Woolwich Observer on the other hand recognize local concerns and published a story in today's edition. Well done!

Regarding the four councillors I picked the four I had the most confidence in. Now absent the mayor I have very little experience with Kayla Grant. Hence I would like to be wrong about her based so far on very limited evidence. That said I think our local Council has a major duty to find out more about the Region's and MECP's claims regarding old, buried coal tar based asphalt (i.e. macadam). To put it very bluntly the word of the MECP is worth less than nothing. Provide councillors, CPAC, the public, TAG and the media with the lab reports allegedly showing benzene concentrations in soil beneath Church St. East. Obviously other lab results for these soils should also be included. Also provide a detailed map showing all sampling done including for what contaminants and exactly where the samples were located. Finally provide all of us with scientific literature (studies & reports) indicating that old, buried coal tar (macadam) is hazardous and preferably in comparison with old, buried more modern asphalt paving. All of this is quite straightforward and part of the Region's (& MECP) due diligence. If you don't have this data readily available then shame on you for making decisions affecting both the environment and taxpayers' money based upon astrology or a ouija board.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2023


 O.K. I grant you I did receive an e-mail from the MECP last Friday, late afternoon. I responded the next morning at 10:33 am. I passed along a question from local resident and CPAC member Rich Clausi. I also requested that the already prepared lab soil analysis alleging benzene contamination be sent to CPAC. Four days later and Nada. Nothing. Not even an acknowledgement of my very pleasant and complimentary e-mail.  No response or acknowledgement from the MECP, Region of Waterloo or any Woolwich councillors to date. Now yes the media are showing some interest which is a good thing. 

I suppose that the biggest issue I've found to date is a lack of reports or studies suggesting that long buried coal tar paving (macadam) is any kind of environmental problem at all. Conversely it seems that the modern asphalt used for road surfacing may very well be an environmental problem. Isn't that both weird and scary in that modern asphalt literally covers 99% or more of our roads nowadays? Now some of the studies do indicate greater concentrations of PAHs (polycyclic hydrocarbons) in coal tar paving (macadam) versus modern asphalt paving. The key is whether or not these chemicals and others (eg. benzene) are leaching from the old macadam into the environment. My understanding is that there really is only a tiny amount in North America of coal tar paving still at surface and in use as roads as asphalt has completely replaced macadam over the past decades.

The many on-line reports and studies I've read, as stated here yesterday, indicate that the problem is actually coal tar sealing of the surface of asphalt driveways and parking lots. Highways to the best of my knowledge are not routinely sealed using any kind of sealer whether coal tar based or asphalt based. Thank goodness! Now modern asphalt does indeed have lots of nasties in it including VOCs (volatile organics) and PAHs although the concentrations of PAHs are indeed much lower than those found in coal tar paving (i.e. macadam). Therefore I would not be terribly surprised if a coal tar (macadam) covered roadway, exposed particularly to the summer's heat, especially in the southern U.S., produced much greater and more toxic fumes than the usual asphalt roadways. That said many articles do state that toxic fumes are emitted from asphalt highways during hot, summer days. 

The issue here in Elmira is long buried coal tar paving (macadam) not a current, exposed at surface macadam roadway. By the way there is evidence that old, buried asphalt paving (NOT coal tar based), especially in a wet environment (swamps etc.), will indeed leach toxic chemicals. Therefore what and why exactly is the Region of Waterloo concerned about? They should seriously be lobbying the provincial government to ban the sale of coal tar based driveway and parking lot sealants. Suggesting that long buried coal tar paving (macadam) is an environmental threat needs to be backed up with some studies and reports don't you think?   

Tuesday, July 18, 2023


 All right there is good info on line and there is ridiculous bullsh*t information on line. O.K. that may apply to almost all subjects. How do you know for sure when you are reading bullsh*t? Simple, read carefully and take note of internal contradictions within the article. For example if an earlier sentence refers to low bitumen content in coal tar and four sentences later the same article states that coal tar's primary constituent is bitumen then you should be on high alert. If an article suggests that coal tar has high concentrations of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and asphalt has none and then again a few pages later amends their statement to say well coal tar has high concentrations of PAHs and asphalt has low concentrations then again something may well be amiss.

 To date I have likely read at least a couple of dozen publications dealing with coal tar paving (i.e. macadam) versus asphalt paving. While the production of each is different as well as from a somewhat different source in that coal tar comes from coal and is a by-product of the production of coal gas whereas asphalt is both a natural product found in some areas of the world it is more commonly produced from petroleum using a distillation process. Either way however the chemical constituents are extremely similar. 

Keep in mind that petroleum (crude oil) is produced via carbon based lifeforms including vegetation and very small animal life which under high pressure and heat from deep burial over eons turns into crude oil and gas. Also coal is produced from wood (trees) which are a form of vegetation which also has been subjected to high pressure and temperatures over eons of time. Their chemical basis is hydrocarbons which simply stated are hydrogen and carbon molecules. Yes asphalt has a few additional molecules including sulfur, nitrogen and oxygen.  

Some of these studies measure the concentrations of chemicals in water runoff from asphalt driveways versus coal tar paving (i.e. macadam). Most articles however have focused on the sealants later used on these forms of paving. The asphalt sealers (put on with a large brush from out of a can) have an extremely lower concentration of toxic chemicals than the coal tar sealers also applied with a large brush on top of a paved driveway or parking lot.  The issue to date does not remotely seem to be the type of paving used (coal tar macadam) versus regular, normal asphalt paving. The issue is the surface sealer sold and applied later to allegedly smooth, preserve and darken the pavement back to it's original colour. 

Monday, July 17, 2023


The plot thickens and there is definitely an odour involved as well. My findings are not yet definitive however something is wrong.  What has me concerned? Well for starters asphalt highways on hot days emit fumes. Bad fumes. Volatile Organic compounds as well as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are emitted. Apparently coal tar based roads (Macadm) emit higher concentrations. But that's the rub. How many tarmacadam or just plain macadam roads or highways have you been on lately? Exactly. 

So why are our authorities removing subsurface coal tar (macadm) based roadways such as beneath Church St. East in Elmira? It would seem to me that whatever the concentration of various chemicals are that they are more likely to be emitted when exposed to sunshine and heat. Is the removal of old, buried coal tar roads or chunks thereof simply virtue signaling? I will await further communication from both the Region of Waterloo and the Ministry of Environment and hope that they can shed some light on this matter.

Saturday, July 15, 2023


 The response came from Lubna Hussain of the MECP and I would characterize it as both friendly and helpful.  She informed me that coal tar was found beneath Church St. E. She referred to it as a "historic road layer". O.K. good to know. Apparently soils around this old road layer referred to as "tarmacadam" were tested and it was decided that they needed to be removed. Hmm. Hence both the waste asphalt and the contaminated soils were removed and sent to a hazardous waste site near Sarnia.

I have responded with thanks to Lubna for her initial helpfulness but also asked for a couple of things. One is for a response to CPAC member Rich Clausi's question about whether the rest of the soil left in place has been certified as either clean or clear of contamination and secondly for a copy of the soil lab analysis in which the Region had advised us that benzene was found. 

Myself and CPAC are continuing our investigation. I see a couple of possible issues such as the assumption that nearby soil contaminated with benzene had to come from the tarmacadam or anything else found beneath Church St. After all one of the most contaminated sites sits unremediated mere metres away from Church St. E. This contamination includes benzene and a host of other nasties including several Uniroyal Chemical signature chemicals..

We are off on a good foot with both the Region of Waterloo and with the MECP. Historically the Region have been much more forthcoming than the Province (MECP). Let's see who the winner in transparency turns out to be.

Friday, July 14, 2023


 I keep forgetting to advise the various "authorities" about the 1991 Control Order on Uniroyal Chemical insisting that it only referred to currently known contamination. In other words contamination found later needed to be properly addressed and taken care of. Of course with the Ontario Ministry of Environment, their verbal statements are not worth the paper they aren't written on but we have also learned that their written Control Orders sometimes aren't as well. The MOE/MECP simply "amend" or write new Control Orders mostly to appease the polluter and make their life easier. I suspect that backroom deals (probably written) between the MOE/MECP and polluters include such things as "Don't worry we are simply being hard asses now in order to get the public onside. Once the heat dies down we'll amend (i.e. remove) those paragraphs that you don't like."

So isn't this interesting? Earlier in the week I mentioned benzene as being one of the chemicals that Uniroyal Chemical carelessly handled and mishandled such that there was a separate benzene plume in the aquifers beneath Uniroyal and Elmira. Lo and behold it seems that the Region of Waterloo have specifically named benzene as one of the contaminants found at depth beneath Church St. East. Good on Boris and the Region for stepping up and speaking to the public who after all pay the bills for everybody! This information came from an e-mail by Dr. Dan Holt to Rich Clausi that was cc'd to four councillors, two newspapers, the MECP, the Chair of TAG and CPAC members.

 What else have we learned recently? Well it seems as if there are other lines of communication open with involved parties. Sometimes the best information only gets out to the public when the inside parties are squabbling. Take the Environmental Appeal Board hearings back in the early 1990s. That's when the public only learned about the extent of corruption, incompetence and self-serving behaviour due to Uniroyal Chemical and the Ontario Ministry of Environment going toe to toe. No it wasn't the MOE doing their job it was the MOE lying and trying to blame the entire contaminated drinking water mess solely on Uniroyal Chemical. In the nick of time, just before the Ministry were to present their case (and then be cross-examined), a sweetheart deal was struck between Uniroyal and the MOE leaving all the other parties blowing in the wind.  Well today it seems as if there may be behind the scenes arguments going on between various players including the Region and the Township. It seems as if there are differing opinions as to whom should be held responsible for extra costs involved in excavating contaminated materials and trucking them to a hazardous waste site near Sarnia. Presumably that would be the Corunna hazardous waste site under various ownership over the decades. 

To date there has been one media request for further information that I am aware of. Today is four days since I brought this matter to the Elmira Advocate as well as to numerous authorities. To date not a single phone call or e-mail from any of these authorities to me. I'm patient. After all Elmira/Woolwich have been ground zero for environmental coverups for four decades and longer. That crap can not be unraveled overnight. Too many vested interests pushing too many buttons. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023


 Now that combined with half a dollar might get me a half cup of coffee somewhere (or not).  Geez with the musical chairs from the Ministry of Environment over the years is it any surprise that their attendees know so little about the site, the company, the issues, the past lying by authorities etc. ?  That said O.K. Jason Rice has attended for quite some time now and Steve Martindale attended for years and was friendly and approachable despite other issues. 

As of this morning I e-mailed the complaint to Jason and Lubna of the MECP. I cc'd CPAC members, four Woolwich Council members, the Observer, the Record and Tiffany Svensson the Chair of TAG. Of course Sebastian is both a TAG and CPAC member and is fully aware of the issues. 

The issue for me is more than costs as in why should the taxpayers pay for what likely is Uniroyal Chemical's either leaking tars or intentional and even possibly permitted by the Township dumping into the bottom of the Church St. (Hwy #86) roadbed. For me it's about new contamination as per the 1991 Control Order which states that any new and currently unknown, as of 1991 Uniroyal contamination, must be remediated by Uniroyal. That is a major issue and one that I'm sure the MECP and Lanxess would rather not hear about. After all it's so much easier to fluff the costs off onto the public than have to sit down and discuss/negotiate/beg Lanxess to fulfill their responsibilities.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023


 Being on the hook is nothing new. Certainly the environmental and human health damages in and around the Stroh farm should have caused a real cleanup versus the 5.9 inch (15 cm.) deep "excavations" that the Ontario Ministry of Environment accepted four years ago along the property line between Lanxess and the Stroh farm. That is a clear object lesson regarding political influence and corruption. Oops here in Canada we prefer not to use the C word. Influence, deal making, scratch my back and I'll scratch yours etc. are the preferred ways to reward friends and supporters versus brown paper bags of cash (like a former Prime Minister) or even more obvious  bribes and inducements.

We now have first hand knowledge that the contaminated soil recently removed is a type of tar that the Region of Waterloo feels may have been dumped there back in the 1950s or so. Well, well. Who do we know whose property line runs right up to Church St. (Hwy #86) and who has produced a plethora of waste tars over the decades starting in the 1940s? Golly gosh that would be Uniroyal Chemical. In fact they had so many waste tars that they not only had specifically named tar pits on both sides of the Creek but they also used waste aniline tars along the west side creek banks to build up low lying areas. They also had two large pits at the north end of their property to dispose of iron oxide catalyst used in their aniline process. 

Tars are a form of DNAPL or dense non aqueous phase liquid. This so called "discovery" is once again the result of a corrupt and perverted public consultation and remediation process as DNAPLS have been one of the longer running coverups on the Uniroyal site going back to both the 1980s and 1990s as well as through the early 2000s. These DNAPLS have flowed off-site both to the west and to the north unless of course Uniroyal were able to sweet talk or bribe? persons involved in Highway #86 construction/reconstruction to accept aniline wastes (tars) into the bottom of the roadway prior to adding gravel to form the base of the road. With this company and the willingness of incompetent or environmentally ignorant people to be "flexible" and help out a recent corporate arrival to Elmira anything is possible. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023


 Well of course there is. In fact there is soil contamination north, south, east and west of Uniroyal/Lanxess.  Not all of it comes directly from them but lots of it does. North by the way for those geographically challenged means Church St running east/west (Hwy #86) along the north side of the former Uniroyal property, Bolender Park and the former Bolender Park Landfill. How is it that thirty-four years after the 1989 Elmira Water Crisis we are just "discovering" this soil contamination?

That's an easy question. It's because you will never "discover" that which you refuse to look for. Woolwich Township especially as well as the Region of Waterloo and the Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) conspired to minimize the extent of Uniroyal's soil, water and air contamination along with their very own extent of culpability.  Culpability or guilt is a very powerful incentive bit it's a double edged sword. It can motivate positively or negatively.

So what evidence is there of soil contamination under Church St. alongside the Uniroyal/Lanxess property? How about several truckloads of contaminated soil being removed as per conversations between nearby residents and road construction personnel involved in the rebuilding of Church St (Hwy #86) and the bridge over the Canagagigue Creek this summer.  Work was delayed while this recently "discovered" soil contamination was removed.

Shallow soil sampling at the minimum should have been done at several Elmira locations back in the very early 1990s as part of the so called "investigation" into the source of NDMA, chlorobenzene, benzene, toluene etc. found in the Elmira Aquifers. Instead locations such as Borg Textiles, Sanyo Canada, Varnicolor's Lot 91, Thur, Elmira Furniture, Nutrite, McKee were all intentionally given a pass so as not to further embarrass the Ontario MOE by finding other sources of contaminants directly related to the MOE's long standing incompetence and failure to do their jobs.. 

The 1991 Control Order insisted that "new" Uniroyal contamination discovered had to be properly dealt with. I guess for our authorities that means doing it quietly and surrepticiously. No need to further embarrass already grossly guilty parties and their fellow travellors.

Monday, July 10, 2023


 Both of them are the result of the chasm between politicians and the electorate. That chasm is multiplied as citizens at the local level slowly learn how impotent their municipal representatives truly are. Here in Ontario Doug Ford (Conservative) seems intent on rubbing citizens noses into the realities that provincial governments for all intents and purposes are fully in charge. From the size of municipal councils to amalgamation to gravel pits the province tells municipalities what to do and have the power to force the issue when necessary. The Federal government sometimes tries to do the same thing to the provinces although the provinces have greater funds to fight back through the courts. 

Citizens meanwhile have learned through hard experience that fighting "City Hall" whether municipal, regional, provincial or federal is financially, emotionally and physically exhausting and rarely is successful. Whether new gravel pits, gas plants, energy from waste projects or whatever flavour of the month that the level of government is pushing, they do not appreciate opposition and tend to punish it as in "No good deed goes unpunished.". This also includes activists opposing cheap, inadequate environmental cleanups, industrial expansions of dirty industries and more. 

Here in Elmira we've learned that only the smaller, less wealthy but nevertheless major polluters get forced into real cleanups. At one time we sort of thought that the Varnicolor Chemical cleanup would set the standard for Uniroyal Chemical. Turned out it wasn't even close. Firstly the Control Order demand for full vertical delineation of contamination was quietly dropped by the Ontario Ministry of Environment to appease the new potential owner of the grossly contaminated Varnicolor site. Secondly Uniroyal Chemical was a multi national, multi billion dollar corporation with a larger legal budget than the provincial Ministry felt like opposing in court. To this day major contamination remains both on and off the Uniroyal/Lanxess property.

Hence younger citizens see the roadblocks and frustration of their parents and the older generation and simply say "No thanks".  When the last of  democracy finally flows down the drain it will be a direct result of power hungry Canadian politicians at all levels constantly striving to increase their own power and influence at the expense of the rest of the citizens of this once fine country.

Saturday, July 8, 2023


 The timing is interesting. Currently "Lac Megantic"  the Documentary is playing on television (Ch. #5). It is disturbing when we learn that the disaster was less of an accident and more of a direct result of intentional failures in government oversight (TSB, Transport Canada) in conjunction with allowing profit motivated corporations to make their own operating rules. Funny thing (not) how these rules are self-serving and save the rail companies money in the short run. Then in today's newspaper (K-W Record) there is an article about the fishing boat sinking on Canada's east coast on December 15, 2020 that cost six men their lives. It turns out that proposed Transport Canada stiffer rules are not adequate to prevent future commercial fishing boats from sinking. These stiffer rules ignore recommendations from the Transport Safety Board advising Transport Canada to do stability testing for all commercial fishing boats going to sea. Finally also in today's newspaper is an article about new technology in commercial planes including pilotless technology. However do not be concerned as we are advised that Transport Canada are all over this one and ensure Canadians that they will oversee and supervise these emerging technologies at their usual high standards.  Yikes! Oh and I forgot to mention that I recently read a book about the plane crash that took the life of Grant Notley the then Opposition Leader in the Alberta legislature back in the 1980s.  It turns out that Transport Canada had a problem keeping up with regular inspections of both aircraft and pilot hours and the flying conditions they were ordered to go out in, in northern communities . Plane crashes soared as a result. 

All of a sudden automobiles, much to my surprise, seem less dangerous in comparison than I know they are. Here in Ontario I can say this: both our local police as well as our Ministry of Transportation are hopeless when it comes to enforcing traffic laws. The police make serious efforts in regards to speeding and drunken driving but everything else is totally ignored. Wandering between lanes, lack of turn signals, travelling slowly in the fast lane, braking and slowing unnecessarily on highways have all become routine due to zero enforcement of the traffic laws. News flash: many of these behaviours are about distracted driving which I refer to as HUA or Head Up Ass and distracted driving kills and maims just like drunken driving does. When lazy and incompetent drivers are not given tickets much less even pulled over for these offences then they cease to realize that they are both dangerous and illegal. 

Friday, July 7, 2023


 Oh my, oh my! Just when I and possibly millions of other admirers of the infernal combustion engine were wrapping our heads around its' demise, now we learn that electric vehicles may not be the solution after all. This is according to Steve Kannon's "Editor's Point of View" in yesterday's Woolwich Observer. I am truly shocked.

 Apparently the world literally does not have the vast quantities of precious metals necessary to produce both electric cars and their batteries. Metals such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminum will require massive new mines and all the environmental hazards associated with them. This includes "...soil contamination, air and water pollution, emission of hazardous gases, land degradation, and water scarcity." The title of Steve's Point of View is "Green or greenwashing? It doesn't matter as long as growth is sacrosanct".

Then of course there is the less than minor problem of electricity production to charge all these new car batteries. Steve's suggestion that it is likely that fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil will continue to be the major sources of electricity production in many countries kind of negates the benefits of electric vehicles. 

I'll be honest here. I hope that Steve is wrong but he does present a strong case combined with irrefutable logic that continued economic and human growth is unsustainable. Is that what electric vehicles are at least partially about i.e. greenwashing in order to be able to keep up our unsustainable growth mantra?  

Thursday, July 6, 2023


 Nope it wasn't me. In fact it wasn't even public. Seven years ago a citizen sent an e-mail to Woolwich Council namely Sandy Shantz, Mark Bauman, Larry Shantz, Murray Martin and Scot Hahn and Patrick Merlihan. It is notable that Mr. Merlihan was the lone councillor who spoke firmly against Council's awful semi-censorship policy regarding bring Uniroyal/Chemtura issues directly to Council versus their dumb idea of insisting that citizens first go to RAC, a pathetic, biased committee of council.

The e-mail recently came to my attention and it is a dandy. The well informed citizen quoted and produced specific sections of Woolwich's Procedural Bylaws particularly Section 10 which deals with Behaviour at Council meetings. Sections 10.1.1, 10.1.2 and 10.1.7 were all quoted and the violations of them by Murray Martin and Sandy Shantz were pointed out. Oh my but there is no hypocrite like an elected one is there?

Eventually Councillor Murray Martin received his comeupance as he was unceremoniously dumped at a following election whereas Sandy Shantz is still waiting for her further and final public humiliation. Along the way she has had a few well deserved political bumps and bruises but so far the electorate have been far too kind to her.   

Wednesday, July 5, 2023


 Last Friday I posted here about the second phony Risk Assessment done in regards to Uniroyal Chemical in Elmira, Ontario. The first one was done in the early 2000s and allegedly claimed that there were no unacceptable risks to receptors in and around the property with the exception of occasional trespassers and possibly earthworms if I remember correctly.  Also if my memory is correct, Dr. Henry Regier a local resident, academic and environmental enthusiast, spent considerable effort looking into the Risk Assessment process including interviewing appropriate Ministry of Environment officials. His conclusions did not do much for the credibility of either the process or of the MOE/MECP.

Now it turns out that surprise, surprise, not everyone shares my opinion of the Risk Assessment (R.A.) process here in Ontario. A few things need to be understood however. Firstly the R.A. done roughly twenty years ago was done on a property often described even by MOE officials as one of the most highly contaminated sites either in Ontario or even in Canada. These contaminants include dioxins (the worst kind-2,3,7,8 TCDD), NDMA, DDT, solvents, pesticides and herbicides including lindane, 2,4-D, parathion, and multiple Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) only a few of which have already been listed. Oh and maybe coincidentally lots of mercury and PCBs downstream in Uniroyal's private sewer known as the Canagagigue Creek. Secondly no health study was ever done in Elmira for the benefit of local residents. Thirdly we were advised with public statements along the lines of "NDMA is the most carcinogenic compound known to mankind." and "2,3,7,8 TCDD is the most toxic compound on the planet." It is very difficult to square those statements released by our authorities with a polluter initiated, paid for Risk Assessment that essentially said "Smile, be happy, all is well."

Now nearly two decades later we get yet another stinker R.A. This one is telling us that there are no unacceptable risks to either humans or other environmental receptors downstream in the Canagagigue Creek. Well maybe the authors of this most recent R.A. got confused. Maybe they think their R.A. is to determine risks to themselves, the authors of this high falutin, glossy coverup masquerading as a scientific, legitimate document. Now if we local Elmira residents hadn't beeen bombarded with three decades plus of junk science, psuedo science and just plain trashy technical reports all minimizing the environmental damage and health effects here; then we might have a little more patience and less contempt and disgust for all the lies over the last thirty-three years.

Can an honest, legitimate Risk Assessment be done? Is the process capable in neutral, unbiased hands to produce a worthwhile, robust and scientific document? I don't know. But what I do know is that here in Elmira we've never had either honest, neutral, unbiased or legitimate efforts focused on our environmental crises. 


Tuesday, July 4, 2023


 Bizarrely I believe that the two Committees of Woolwich Council, RAC & TAG, continue to be virtual only for the public. Personally I find that shameful. A TAG public meeting is scheduled next for August 31, 23 at 6:30 pm. and RAC for September 14, 23 at 5:30 pm. TAG of course stands for Technical Advisory Group and are far less than radical which most probably pleases them to hear. Unfortunately as a group, radical behaviour is long overdue but based upon the careful selection process by MECP, Lanxess and Woolwich Township is not likely to happen. RAC stands for Remedial Advisory Group and really is a sham.  This is our local politicians, municipal, regional, provincial as well as bureaucrats and is died in the wool pro status quo including the original "sweetheart" deal between Uniroyal and the Ontario Ministry of Environment. For a few short years only, Elmira citizens whipped those lying bastards into behaving and compliance but slow co-opting, manipulation and worse eventually reversed that.

Rumour has it that there may well be a real public meeting coming up in the next few months that currently at least will not be controlled by Woolwich, Lanxess or the MECP. Time will tell. Stay tuned.


Saturday, July 1, 2023


 Well neighbours and or local critics can likely say I told you so. No matter what the development they always seem to expand down the road once established. That said however the one advantage of hindsight is that the company now have a history that can be examined. It is my understanding that they have actually done much better than many expected on the odour front. Yes their neighbours such as the Pet Food plant still get odour complaints but Woolwich Bio-En appear to have an excellent handle on handling odours from municipal garbage that they convert into methane which is then used as the fuel to run generators to produce electricity. That electricity is then put into the power grid. 

The doubling of capacity will both increase electricity production as well as producing renewable natural gas (i.e. methane with lesser sulpher and carbon dioxide in it). This natural gas will be sold to the existing Enbridge natural gas grid. Current electricity output is enough to power about a third of the residential homes in Elmira. Woolwich Bio-En Power Inc. have applied to the Ministry of Environment for various approvals and the expansion plans seem to match with the province's call for more capacity to process organic material. (diverting it from landfills) as well as for more renewable energy. On that front Premier Doug Ford's government seem to be coming around from their first year in office.