Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Today's Waterloo Region Record carries the following story titled "$600,000 insurance settlement for Greenbrook blast". In 2014 a truck delivery driver mistakenly offloaded chemicals into the wrong pipe at the Greenbrook water treatment plant in Kitchener. As mnay people know mixing ammonia with chlorine, even in a small quantity in your home, is a very bad idea. In this case it wasn't a small quantity and the resulting explosion literally raised the roof and more.
Steps have been taken to reduce the chances of this happening again. Of course they are common sense steps that should have been taken before human error, both by the truck driver and by the placing of ammonia and chlorine intake pipes side by side, occurred. The Region of Waterloo have both the budget and the professional personnel on staff to avoid disasters before they happen. Similar to a recent article in the Record concerning workmen being exposed to asbestos at the William St. pumphouse; a little forethought goes a long way.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Well I'm still waiting. The out of town, conflict of interest prosecutor had promised me at our December 21/16 private meeting that he would advise me by last Friday January 20/17 whether or not he was proceeding with the Municipal Election Act charges laid by myself against Councillor Scott Hahn. That did not happen, however he did e-mail me last Thursday and apologized that there would be a delay until early this week ie. prior to Wednesday morning's 9 am. court date. Apparently he had information that he was expecting last Friday that could come late in the day, thus delaying his decision.
I do not know what that information could be. I do know of some information readily available and volunteered to him that he has not availed himself of. I also know that professional and damning evidence against Mr. Hahn is publicly available or at least it was until Woolwich Township came out with their new website at the start of 2017. Council, RAC, TAG & CPAC Minutes have been removed and I will check shortly to see if this also includes Minutes from MECAC public meetings and the accompanying Forensic Audit produced by Froese Forensic Partners and paid for by Woolwich Township taxpayers. That Audit is huge and unequivocally states that Mr. Hahn violated the Municipal Elections Act several times and in one instance it implies the possibility that false or inaccurate dates were put on paperwork submitted by Mr. Hahn's family in support of his claims.
The two criteria I have been advised by two out of town Prosecutors that need to be fulfilled in order for them to proceed with prosecution are a likelihood of successful prosecution and that prosecution be in the public interest. Both of these are well satisfied. A failure to prosecute in the black and white Scott Hahn case simply reaffirms for both experienced and novice politicians that the Municipal Elections Act is a toothless tiger and that the province are all about the appearance only of keeping politicians accountable.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
To the best of my knowledge the Woolwich Observer have received two e-mails from CPAC Chair, Dr. Dan Holt, requesting a correction in their story of January 12/17 titled " New hand on tiller to navigate Elmira's groundwater morass". Also to the best of my knowledge neither Dr. Dan nor any other CPAC member have received any response or feedback from the Observer, to date, on this matter. That said I must advise that I have not spoken with Dr. Dan since yesterday afternoon.
To me what is most upsetting and obnoxious is the Observer's failure to respond to a polite and professional request from the CPAC Chair. If for some strange reason the Observer do not feel that a correction is warranted at the very least they could so advise Dr. Dan of that and why. No response could be construed as almost personal or malicious. If the Observer continue in this behaviour a complaint to the Ontario Press Council is almost guaranteed. Simply as a member of CPAC that will not be my sole decision. That said if necessary I will go it alone. Hopefully it will not be necessary.
Following is the first e-mail sent by Dr. Jackson when he was advised of CPAC's concerns with his alleged quote. I must add here that my dealings with Dr. Jackson over the last sixteen months have made me confident that he is a sincere, honest individual who nevertheless is not afraid to speak his mind.
"Unfortunately the short report on a phone interview did not provide the context of the discussion I had with the Observer this week. My point about no expertise referred to remediation issues, which is why I worked so hard to get Neil Thompson on board at Chemtura.
All of the folks you mention are indeed qualified professionals in their fields, as was Wilf ruland who helped the community. None were experts in remediation engineering, which was the subject of my discussion and why the back diffusion issue was missing from the debate until I raised it.
Hydrogeologists are good at characterizing sites, but few have actually cleaned one up. That's what a remediation engineer does, and Neil Thompson is an outstanding example of such a person. We have moved on from site characterization to remediation, unfortunately the characterization work did not pick out the aquitard contamination problem that is inhibiting the rate of aquifer cleanup.
Regards, Dick "
Dr. Jackson's second e-mail followed a couple of hours later as follows:
"...please communicate this clarification to CPAC because there was no intent to disparage what has been accomplished by the community when faced with the difficulties of dealing with MOE. Dick "
The Observer therefore quoted Dr. Richard (Dick) Jackson out of context when he stated that Woolwich Township had "...no expertise available to it". This is an understandable error most likely by the reporter involved who simply had probably never attended a single CPAC, RAC or TAG public meeting and therefore entered the interview with little or no environmental experience behind her and most certainly none regarding this issue. The harm caused by this out of context quote includes professional harm to the many professional environmental experts currently on CPAC as well as on past CPACs. It also unfairly excuses Woolwich Township from blame for their failure in following advice particularily from the last CPAC but from some previous ones as well.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Firstly the improvements are to raise the ridiculous $3.71 per million litres of groundwater fee to $503.71 per million litres. While at first blush that seems like a huge increase, do the math. One million (1) litre bottles sell for between $1 and $2 per bottle depending on the quantity you buy. Hence the raw material costs are still only approximately five hundred dollars to generate between $1 and $2 million dollars in sales. Not too shabby. Then realize that the real "owners' of this water are Canadian citizens. It is our water not some corporation's water to do with as they please simply by paying until now an asinine $3.71 per million litres.
Mike Nagy of Wellington Water Watchers put it very well. He stated that it was not forseen thirty years ago that "...people would take advantage of it (the permitting process), put it in a piece of garbage ...and send it around the world for great profits.". Environmental Defence stated that Ontario should be better protecting communities access to drinking water and beneficial uses of groundwater such as agriculture should be given priority.
See yesterday's Waterloo Region Record article titled "Ontario proposes to boost water bottler fee".
Thursday, January 19, 2017
I'm trying to hold back my anger. Although I've gone through the Observer's on-line version twice so far I can not see any correction regarding their article in last week's edition titled "New hand on tiller to navigate Elmira's groundwater morass". Also I have not spoken yet this morning with the CPAC Chair, Dr. Dan Holt. As of yesterday afternoon he had advised me that he had not been contacted by Steve Kannon or anyone else from the Observer about his polite e-mail he sent them Tuesday requesting a correction in this week's Observer regarding out of context quotes of Dr. Richard Jackson's concerning the Township having "no expertise available to it". I have described that quote and the clarification sent to CPAC by Dr. Jackson both two days ago here in the Advoocate as well as earlier.
This of course is a golden opportunity for me to go off on the Woolwich Observer calling them hypocrites among other things. That would be counter productive for several reasons. First off they have done and continue to do good things overall for this community. They have long held our local councils accountable for their deeds and misdeeds. Having half their ownership on Council (Pat Merlihan) has concerned me although while Pat like all of us has feet of clay; again overall he has been a very positive addition to Woolwich Council. Secondly there are upcoming issues that require their calm and collected wisdom and reporting including the Jigs Hollow Gravel Pit as well as the imminent Crown decision regarding moving forward on Election Act charges against Councillor Scott Hahn or not. Thirdly despite taking Dr. Jackson's comments badly out of context they did step up and report on the past and current problems with the Elmira cleanup. This included the unlikelihood of achieving cleanup by 2028 and the necessity of Chemtura retaining Dr. Neil Thompson, an expert in groundwater remediation, "who will tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear...". Whether that was a direct shot at Chemtura's consultants CRA or even GHD I do not know.
A couple of times in the past I've received an e-mail from Joe Merlihan requesting a correction here in the Advocate. At least once it was a reasonable and accurate request as I was misinformed and had printed an inaccuracy. I made the correction. On one other request from him I also softened my comments afterwards although I thought his complaint was a little thin. Joe took it upon himself to advise me on the ethics of journalism and how corrections were a necessary part of the business. I agreed then and I agree now. Your turn Joe.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
I've long known that certain Woolwich Staffers, just like Chemtura Canada, keep a close eye on this Blog. As per a week ago Tuesday's comment by the Woolwich RAC & TAG Support person, it has been very satisfying to me knowing that the Elmira Advocate is having an impact. Of course I've also had Environment Canada, the U.S. EPA, multiple colleges and universities visiting here as well. In fact Woolwich are in very good company. The Region of Waterloo, cities of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo along with many other municipalities drop by from time to time. A few law firms, media outlets you name it they all like to keep up to date.
Last Tuesday's nonsense was interesting on a number of levels. First off the fact that low level (?) staffers feel the need to check out the Elmira Advocate before responding to me seems a little odd. Do their supervisors know that they are on-line checking out citizens' Blogs during working hours? Have they perhaps been advised by their supervisors to do so?
As per my posting of last Saturday, are Woolwich Township supporting rude and anonymous responses by their employees to legitimate citizen complaints or was that simply a rogue employee acting out? Are Woolwich senior staff and management simply holding their breaths right now waiting for a formal complaint? The issue of the Minutes of RAC, TAG and CPAC not being on the Township's website is not over although as mentioned I did receive some professional, polite and courteous advice and information from the Deputy Clerk.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
As expected our local newspaper have been approached by the Chairman of the Citizens Public Advisory Committee (CPAC). Dr. Dan Holt has sent a polite and courteous request to the Observer for a correction to their otherwise excellent article in last week's Observer titled "New hand on tiller to navigate Elmira's groundwater morass". He has quoted from a clarifying e-mail sent to CPAC by Dr. Richard Jackson. This clarification from Dr. Jackson was greatly appreciated and is but one more sign as to his character. Woolwich were lucky beyond belief to have had his services and talents even for a brief sixteen months.
TAG will be back in action next month namely February 2/17 and February 16 both at 6:30 pm.. RAC reconvenes on March 9/17 at 4 pm.. Both committees meet in Woolwich Council Chambers. I sincerely hope that the Woolwich Observer, the Township's only real local newspaper, will be able to attend these meetings. Paige Desmond has been doing an excellent job for the Waterloo Region Record both with her environmental stories as well as her political ones. That said our local paper here in Elmira are desperately needed for accurate information on both those issues. The title alone of last week's article describing our problems as "...Elmira's groundwater morass" is right on the money. I have long admired the Woolwich Observer and far prefer to get along with them rather than to butt heads as has unfortunately occurred a couple of times in the recent past.