Thursday, February 15, 2024


 Hallelujah! A mere FOUR MONTHS after the fact we the public have the verbatim words of Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach, an 8  1/2 year member of TAG, on-line in the Minutes of both last October's PUBLIC!!!  TAG meeting as well as on-line on the Township (Woolwich) website for this month's (i.e. today) TAG meeting. That delay is way beyond unacceptable. It is contemptible and a perfect example of the sham and farce that passes for public consultation/citizen review. Is it mere coincidence that Sebastian's strong words are highly critical of TAG and the entire citizen review process? Here are his words and you the readers can decide for yourselves.  


"Being on TAG and it's predecessor, CPAC, for over 12 years now, I have experienced first-hand what transpires in terms of the citizens review process. It is deficient, in large measure because of the imbalance between the company, the MECP, and the citizen representatives. This is partly because of the capital the company has at its disposal and, related, the technical expertise it can command. The sad reality is for third parties (eg. GHD) to be unduly influenced by the company's interest; "he who pays the piper calls the tune". The reports and presentations over the years have been favourable to the company. All of these are placed in a format of irrefutable and wholly "objective" science. There is rarely a critical word. Against this, a committee of laypersons- most of whom are not technically proficient in hydrogeology- are overwhelmed with detail and outmanoeuvred. Not surprisingly, they become deferential to appearance rather than really expose the substantive. And what is that? We are just five years away from when the remediation of our groundwater was to be completed. We are at least several decades away from coming even  close to achieving that.

To decrease that timeline, TAG or equivalent need to have more means to challenge the company's performance. Getting more specialists who are not beholden to give truly independent reports would be a start. If that is too much, then at least allow TAG to have whatever report comes from a company-funded consulting group subject to a third-party peer review. These could come from academe or they could come from genuinely autonomous environmental consultants, i.e. out of province. What should also be considered is allowing the silenced to be heard. There are individuals who have first-hand knowledge about the company's activities who have a non-disclosure covenant. They should be allowed to speak publicly. The closer the scrutiny, the more likely that some of the self-serving assumptions and hypotheses cab ne exposed. Only then will a degree of balance return in our relationship and some genuine progress be possible."

Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach

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