Friday, October 21, 2016
Mark Bauman is at least temporarily back on side. He's doing what he always does which is say the words that the listener at the moment wants to hear. Right now that is crapping upon our corrupt Ministry of the Environment. Today's front page headline in the Waterloo Region Record is "Chemtura starts offsite chemical probe". This story written by Paige Desmond captures the reality and history of this issue. CPAC formerly Chemtura Public Advisory Committee are now known as the Citizens Public Advisory Committee (ie. still CPAC). We are NOT a committee of Woolwich Council or any other inherently dishonest group of politicians. We brought this issue forward over two years ago and it was confirmed via Peter Gray of MTE Consulting in his October 2014 Report.
Two years later and the Ont. M.O.E. and Chemtura are simply in the Work Plan stage regarding soil and groundwater testing on the Stroh farm on Chemtura's eastern property line. Keep in mind this is a working, producing farm and has been for decades and decades. Also keep in mind that the M.O.E., Chemtura and their consultants at the time, Conestoga Rovers, never felt the need to share the huge fact that there was a manmade Drain excavated parallel to the Uniroyal east side property line around 1985. This Stroh Drain drains the lowest lying areas on both sides of the property line and then conveys the water (and more) southwards past the Martin pond and into the Canagagigue Creek.
The guilty parties in the Uniroyal Chemical disaster have long known that the property east of Uniroyal/Chemtura was contaminated. As far back as 1990 a M.O.E. hydrogeologist bluntly stated that toxins from two eastern pits (RPE 4 & 5) had contaminated groundwater which had flowed eastwards across the property line. Other reports back into the 1980s also made it clear that both surface and groundwater had flowed eastwards and contaminated the Stroh farm. Local lore has the now deceased patriarch receiving an envelope (cheque?) every Christmas from a senior Uniroyal manager. This allegedly was due to crop damage caused by the eastern pits flowing onto his property.
Two years since a professional report commissioned by CPAC confirmed off-site flow and Chemtura/M.O.E. still haven't done off-site soil and groundwater testing. All they are doing is running out the clock enabled by a passive, cowardly Woolwich Council who would rather dismiss a strong citizens group appointed by the preceding Council.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Second day in a row we have an article in the Waterloo Region Record regarding the Jigs Hollow Pit beside Winterbourne. The title is "Residents oppose gravel pit operator's request to dig under water table". There was a public meeting (sort of) yesterday held in St. Jacobs. I attended the 4-7 pm. meeting early on and it was very quiet at that time. Essentially the room has two rows of posters set up showing various aspects of the proposed below water table pit currently, during extraction and after "rehabilitation". Essentially there will be a large lake beside the Grand River as the extracted area below the water table fills up with groundwater.
When this pit was first proposed six years ago as an above water table gravel pit local residents knew that that was ridiculous. Maps of the subsurface deposits of gravel made it clear that the bulk of the gravel was too deep for above water table extraction to be economically feasible. Lo and behold they were correct and now Preston Sand & Gravel want to extract below the water table, beside the Grand River.
The company require approvals from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). I don't see that as any significant roadblock. They also need approval (sort of) from Woolwich township in order to mine below the water table. The Township in recent years had opposed both the proposed gravel pit in West Montrose by Capitol Paving and also the private proposal just outside Conestogo within sight of the Preston Sand & Gravel Pit. It was called the Hunder Pit. The Ontario Municipal Board was involved in the Hunder Pit and most surprisingly turned the pit down. I attended the hearing and believe it was an entirely political decision (provincial). While I did not want to see that pit go forward nevertheless it was my opinion that the proponent dotted his i's and crossed his t's and did everything required in order to as a matter of course receive his go ahead.
Woolwich Township vigorously opposed the Hunder Pit including the Director of Engineering, Dan Kennally testifying against it. That was then and with a different Council. This is what I've learned. These approvals are rarely made or lost based upon the environmental facts and conditions. They are rarely won or lost based upon sound science, logic or common sense. It's all about the politics folks. Look carefully at our current Council and understand whose interests they will protect. The Friends of the Winterbourne Valley have a tough battle ahead of them. Best of luck.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Today's Waterloo Region Record has an article by Paige Desmond titled "Residents oppose rule change for gravel pit". This is the Jigs Hollow Pit owned by Preston Sand & Gravel. An agreement had been reached in 2013 between the Township of Woolwich and the gravel company through the Ontario Municipal Board. The agreement stipulated only above water table extraction. Allegedly higher groundwater levels found in 2014 have brought about an amendment application to permit below water table extraction. To date the Region of Waterloo has appropriately been against below water table extraction due to its potential and indeed likelihood to lessen groundwater quality. As we are a large area dependent upon groundwater for our drinking water this simply makes good sense. As it is Waterloo Region overall are forced to spend millions of dollars annually to treat both our ground and surface (Grand River) water prior to putting it into the distribution system. This is essentially a direct subsidy to polluters past and present in our Region.
There is a public information session from 4-7 pm. at the St. Jacobs Community centre at 31 Parkside Dr. in St. Jacobs this afternoon. Friends of the Winterbourne Valley will also host a parallel meeting downstairs at the centre at 5:45 pm.. Keep in mind that the last time around the old lame duck Council who had been kicked out in the October 2010 election gave last second approval to this pit. Then the new more progressive Council dug in their heels and insisted upon no below water table extraction. Now we are back to the likes of Murray Martin, Mark Bauman, and Sandy Shantz. My prediction is that those pro industry, pro environment via rhetoric only Councillors will be in favour of giving Preston Sand & Gravel what they want. The only hope for citizens is to raise a racket similar to the Breslau rebellion and to remind councillors of their antidemocratic stance last May when they got publicly hammered for trying to deny Delegations to Council on Chemtura and Ministry of the Environment matters.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (M.O.E.) are now publicly advising TAG (Technical Advisory Group) that they do not have provincial sediment quality guidelines which would enable them to order a cleanup of the Canagagigue Creek by Chemtura Canada. Yes they acknowledge the existence of Canadian Sediment Quality Guidelines but when asked why those are not acceptable they simply respond because they aren't provincial guidelines. As of yesterday I have made available the fact that these Canadian Guidelines actually include on page 4 a reference to the contamination in the Canagagigue Creek as well as the name of the study done by Bedard and Jaagumagi in 1995-96 titled "Sediment and Biological Assessment of Canagagigue Creek at the Uniroyal Chemical Ltd. Plant, Elmira, Ontario. 1995-96". In other words the Canadian Guidelines are actually built upon the ground breaking study done right here in Elmira, Ontario in the very same creek that our M.O.E. claims it has no provincial sediment guidelines for.
This 1995-96 study includes a biological assessment of the uptake of contaminants including Dioxins.Furans and DDT in the benthic community as well as in fish species. The conclusion is that indeed these contaminants are available and are being absorbed and bioaccumulated within lifeforms in the creek. Also of interest is Appendix A of this report. It is titled "Provincial Sediment Quality Guidelines". Isn't that interesting? Some of the other potentially dioxin like contaminants present in the creek include PCBs and HCB (Hexachlorobenzene?). To date no effort has been made to determine how significant their contribution is to the total toxic effects of Dioxins/Furans.`
George Karlos, Deputy Director of the West Central Region of the M.O.E. advised CPAC in 2012 that they the M.O.E. were going to do another study of the creek, its' sediments and floodplain soils. They would also two years later do testing on fish and compare the results to their Tissue Residue Guidelines (TRGs). The first report was titled "Canagagigue Creek 2012 Downstream Sampling March 28, 2013". The second report was titled "Canagagigue Creek 2013 Additional Sediment Sampling at Stn 21S and Soil Sampling at Martin Pond Berm September 26, 2013". The third report was titled "Canagagigue Creek: Sediment and fish results from 2014 and update on sampling conducted in 2015 September 30, 2015".
Guess what? All three of these reports are filled with references to and comparisons to various criteria and guidelines. They include ISQG - Interim Sediment Quality Guidelines, NEL - No Effect Level, PSQG - Provincial Sediment Quality Guidelines, SEL - Severe Effect Level, LEL - Lowest Effect Level, Canadian Interim SQG and Canadian Probable Effect Level - PEL. Not a peep out of the Ministry that they have no criteria or guidelines. In spots they make comments such as "Could not validate 2012 SEL results", "2013 results did not exceed PSQG SEL" etc. as well as "Exceedance of PSQG SEL is expected to impair benthics".
The 2014 Report states (pg.8) "Data compared to historical data and appropriate guidelines for assessing potential impacts" and then lists Sediment Guidelines including both Provincial and Federal (CCME) Guidelines. It also then lists Fish Guidelines namely "Federal (CCME) tissue residue guidelines (TRG) (Young of the year fish). There are both exceedances as well as samples below guideline levels. The point is the blatant and grotesque hypocrisy of the Ontario M.O.E. to now in 2016 suggest that they don't have appropriate guidelines to base remediation decisions upon after confidently proclaiming them and their use in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
One key component requiring remediation of a site is being able to prove adverse effects ie. adverse environmental effects upon lifeforms. We have had overwhelming evidence of that over the last twenty years and in fact DDT for example has been found at much higher adverse levels in 2012 and 2014 than it was twenty years ago. There is no technical excuse for not ordering a cleanup of the Canagagigue Creek. There is only political corruption standing in the way.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Sub:Title : THANK YOU SANDY & MARK FOR YOUR TIMELY ASSISTANCE TO THIS
This is huge albeit painstakingly slow and tedious. The report titled "Off-Site Investigation Work Plan ...Elmira Site" is dated August 8, 2016 whereas I received my copy last Thursday (October 13/16). It has been two years since the MTE Report indicating the high probability of Uniroyal liquid wastes having travelled east and south-east onto the neighbouring Stroh property. That momentum and so much more was intentionally broken up by Mark and Sandy as they struggled heroically to bring Chemtura and the M.O.E. back into the fold. This entailed Mark and Sandy bending over backwards to kiss their respective butts and beg them to come back and recapture their places of prominence and superiority around the Woolwich Council table. Chemtura and the M.O.E. graciously accepted Mark and Sandy's prostration and obsequious pleas.
So of what calibre might this report be? I would call it par for the course as the guilty parties continue to stickhandle and wiggle on the hook to avoid both more blame and responsibility for their past coverups of pollution and illegal waste disposal. Neither TAG members nor the M.O.E. were particularly impressed with the location of surficial soil sampling . One Cynthia Doughty of the M.O.E. has responded in a September 7/16 Memorandum requesting numerous changes and upgrades to the proposed Work Plan. Basically she feels the Work Plan as presented does not achieve its' aim which is to delineate off-site (Stroh farm) contamination which has moved from Uniroyal/Chemtura east and south-east onto the Stroh property.
I submitted a last second one page document to Dr. Jackson with my (and CPAC's) criticisms just prior to the start of the meeting. When one receives the document the same day it is difficult to read, absorb and then write a response to be submitted for a meeting that day. This is par for the last thirty years of gamesmanship and deceit practiced by Chemtura, the M.O.E. and enabled by the cowardly behaviour of the vast majority of Woolwich Councils since Uniroyal/Chemtura came to town in the 1940s.
Among four criticisms I had was the obvious and blatant fact that zero soil samples were committed to by GHD in the area of the "Gap", the Stroh Drain or the nearby "Sink". Also the soil depths were once again far too shallow. A reference to 15 cm. being adequate as per the December 2015 East Side Investigation is pure horse manure. There was no such evidence presented despite GHD's claims to the contrary. Keep in mind this is but a "Work Plan". It will have to be amended , recommented on and then samples taken and wells drilled. Then we will wait for months for the data to be analysed and a report written. Then there will be another report and further discussion as to what remediation if any that will be done. This crap will go on for years exactly as Chemtura and the M.O.E. have been doing for the last thirty years. This will continue as long as our local, idiot councillors continue to treat the guilty partieswith kid gloves and continue to kiss their asses every time they whine and complain that citizens are too hard on them.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Thank You Sebastian for your opening question to Dr. Jackson, Chair of TAG (Technical Advisory Group). You asked why TAG members were only asked to declare pecuniary conflicts of interest. Firstly there appears to be no distinction as to whether members are declaring current or past pecuniary conflicts and secondly there are many other conflicts of interest other than pecuniary ones. Dr. Jackson clearly was surprised by your question and was unable to give what I would refer to as a considered response. Two TAG members have serious conflicts of interest whether still pecuniary or not although they certainly have been.
Dr. Jackson was all over Chemtura and their consultants (GHD) due to the "Gap" along Chemtura's south-east property line. He referenced a 210 metre gap between soil samples and a 350 metre gap between monitoring wells OW38 (northerly) and OW15 (southerly). My refernce to the "Gap" usually encompasses a 175 metre stretch parallel to the Stroh Drain where it is closest to Chemtura's eastern property line. This area is the crucial low lying location where Uniroyal's liquid wastes are most likely in large volume to have left their property and crossed over to the Stroh property.
Astoundingly TAG had the M.O.E. response to GHD's Off-Site Investigation Work Plan a couple of weeks prior to having the actual Work Plan itself. Of course other stakeholders such as myself and CPAC still don't have the M.O.E.'s comments about Chemtura's proposed investigation of the Stroh property.
Joe Kelly spoke positively about these M.O.E. comments. He feels the M.O.E. did a good job in pointing out unclear parts of GHD's Work Plan as well as other problems. Sebastian suggested deeper test pits rather than the usual 15 cm. (6 inches) only. As another hydrophobic compound (P.C.B.) was found in the Supplementary Investigation last summer, eight feet below ground surface, Sebastian's comments are right on the money.
Dr. Jackson suggested the possibility/probability that overflow or drainage from the closest east side pits, RPE-5 and BAE-1, likely discharge into the Stroh Drain. Hence the sediments in the bottom of the Drain, at the very least, will be contaminated. Dr. Jackson also kindly indicated to TAG that I had given him some helpful input and information recently. Dick (Dr. Jackson) again reminded all that it has taken the M.O.E. thirteen months to date to produce a report from data that they shared with TAG back in September 2015. Even for the M.O.E. that is pretty bad. Dick further made comments as to the so called fencing off of the creek to cattle many years ago as he mentioned that the "cattle were free to cross and drink as they go" at the New Jerusalem site. Indeed I now have pictures of that location as well as of the Northfield Dr. crossing area.
It was pointed out that criteria for Dioxins were exceeded in Tables 1,2 and 8 in the floodplain area on the north side of the creek upstream of New Jerusalem Rd.. David Hofbauer of TAG asked "Do they trigger further action in the M.O.E. world?". He then stated that the criteria and Tables were "geared towards property transfer" and that banks are the biggest users of these Tables (ie. mortgages, liability concerns) . He further suggested that the farms between Chemtura and the Grand River could not be sold because of the known contamination of the creek and floodplains. Susan Bryant suggested that the Old Order Mennonites were more likely to simply pass the farms on to the next generation rather than sell them. She also pointed out that the EPA's 2003 review of Dioxins stated that they were a Non-Threshold toxin which means that there is no safe level for them hence all these criteria were sketchy.
There was discussion between David H., Sebastian, Linda Dickson and Dick Jackson regarding the M.O.E.'s latest criteria of 48 pg/g or parts per trillion (ppt). It appears as if the lower criteria of 13 ppt is for mammals and birds whereas the higher criteria of 48 ppt is for soil contact by human beings. Both David and Dick made it clear that the M.O.E.'s proposed Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) will ignore harm to birds and critters with the higher criteria. Dick also pointed out that "there is no boundary between creek sediments and the floodplain". In other words the contaminated soils on the floodplain are all coming from the contaminated creek sediments during flooding episodes.
Sebastian may have started the discussion but other TAG members chimed in regarding TAG being played, intentionally delayed by the M.O.E. and overall the issues going around in circles for years. Much of this part of the discussion I posted about yesterday here in the Advocate. Dick referred to it as "running into a wall of public policy indifference and bureaucratic lethargy.". Wow I am going to miss him after his December 31/16 retirement. Further comments by Dick include "TAG's technical arguments are sound" and in reference to the Ontario M.O.E. he said "there is not a matter of good faith here." Lastly he and others said "The HHRA is unlikely to be helpful in cleaning up the creek.".
Interestingly that despite the "cringeworthy" setup of TAG (& RAC) I do see some gentle relaxing of Sandy's draconian and disgusting rules prohibiting either questions or comments from other stakeholders and concerned citizens attending TAG meetings. Dr. Jackson (Dick) recognized and permitted a comment from audience member Viv Delaney as well as once again allowing Sandy Shantz to address TAG and the public. Furthermore yours truly again twice briefly added some facts to the mix from the gallery without being hassled or threatened by Sandy.
Lastly Dick Jackson suggested that he would like Hatfield consultants to do an independent Risk Assessment of the creek as they are recognized international experts on Dioxin contamination. Dick also suggested a trip to the Environmental Commissioner regarding technical evidence that the M.O.E. are violating Ontario law.
Once again no media present to record this excellent meeting. Shame on the pack of them and yes I do sorely miss Gail Martin and the Elmira Independent since their closing.
Friday, October 14, 2016
My, my the sweet irony. The vindication. The complete turnaround in public understanding that Chemtura and the M.O.E. were not poor victims of a hostile CPAC at all. That lie was courtesy of two professional liars and politicians namely Sandy Shantz and Mark Bauman. Last evening Sandy's own friends that she handpicked for TAG made that clear. TAG members one after another discussed the intransgience, incompetence and inherent corruption that is the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. This was no one man show with Dr. Richard (Dick) Jackson going head to head with Terri Buhlman or Jason Rice of the M.O.E.. This was Tag members, one after another, discussing how to deal with "Fortress" M.O.E..
"Fortress" was the term one of them used and it described an insular, dogmatic, isolated Ministry both afraid of their own shadow when dealing with corporate power and at the same time defensive and antagonistic when dealing with citizens or other levels of government insisting the M.O.E. do their jobs. Repeatedly it was made clear that TAG have presented technical arguments and facts which are undisputed indicating that the Canagagigue Creek needs to be cleaned up. Repeatedly the M.O.E.'s failures and refusal to clean up the English-Wabigoon Rivers in Grassy Narrows was mentioned as an example of the incredible uselessness of this Ministry.
Through all this our alleged mayor sat at the back of the room perhaps keeping an eye on Chairman Dick Jackson. Is she even smart enough to understand what a huge turnaround this is? Almost two years since Chemtura/M.O.E. stopped attending CPAC meetings and only thirteen months since TAG held their first meeting; TAG have learned that the M.O.E. are contemptible. Between the two year mark and the start of TAG, Mark and Sandy lied like dogs blaming CPAC for the M.O.E. and Chemtura's non-attendance at public CPAC meetings. What a farce. Did anyone see either Chemtura or the M.O.E. last night? Of course not! They still don't attend meetings in which honest, informed citizens criticize their behaviour. Four RAC (Remediation Advisory Committee) meetings a year they can handle. Those meetings have more politicians and bureaucrats involved, hence less blunt truths and more sweetness and light.
There are two TAG members who are more concerned with their own self-aggrandizement than anything else. They are spoiled brats unwilling to share the credit with CPAC or anyone else. They are not and never have been team players although both fake it really well. I've been advised that Sandy really isn't smart enough to have been the brains behind the "manufactured crisis" of two years ago when Chemtura and the M.O.E. suddenly stopped attending CPAC meetings after the new Council were elected. These two TAG members (former CPAC) along with Mark Bauman, Chemtura and the M.O.E. came up with the "manufactured crisis" plan. If that is the case then Sandy is less corrupt and more stupid than I've given her credit for.