Thursday, March 23, 2017
We all know lifetime smokers who have lived to 75 years of age. Ditto with people who are very overweight and or never exercised a day in their lives. Bad diets and fast food put some people in their graves by the time they are 50. The same diet in a different person and they just seem to keep on going. Toxic work exposures kill people in their 40s and 50s yet the person working beside them survives for another 25 years. Human beings are different plus they are more vulnerable at different stages of their lives.
Trichloroethylene is recognized as an extremely toxic solvent. At one time it was also a very commonly used solvent in industry. It was used as a degreaser. I used it I believe only once when I worked at Varnicolor Chemical in the late 1980s. I was outside wearing an ill fitting respirator spraying it into drums with grease in them. That night when I drove home I had a headache and thought my car's exhaust must be leaking. It wasn't. It was a Trichloroethylene (TCE) headache. I've only had a TCE headache one other time in my life and I didn't recognize it for what it was until much later. I had been in a home in the Bishop St. community in Cambridge. Similar to tobacco you can build up a tolerance to the symptoms of TCE. Thus while the headaches or rashes may go away you are still being harmed.
The current health criteria for TCE in Canada is 5 parts per billion (ppb). Some U.S. jurisdictions have criteria of 3 ppb. I have a vague memory of TCE being at 5 ppb. in Ontario, moving up to 50 ppb in the 90s and then going back down to 5 again. While I'm positive that it used to be at 50 ppb. here I'd really like some confirmation that it had been bumped up to that from 5 before being reduced back to 5 ppb.
I just saved this post (work in progress) and did a five minute Google search to confirm U.S. drinking water criteria for TCE. I knew that some states have lower standards than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and I was expecting around 3 ppb.. I'm in shock! The Minnesota Department of Health states that 2 ppb. TCE in drinking water is safe for most people over a lifetime but they recommend no higher than .4 ppb. in order to protect all consumers. The reduced concentration is to protect pregnant women, fetuses, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. That 2 ppb. seems to match the high levels found in the Middleton drinking water in recent years. Again I have to ask the question as to whether the Region of Waterloo are managing their multimillion dollar enhanced treatment (AOP) to keep just below 2 ppb. TCE rather than to reduce it even further?
Those numbers in the previous paragraph tell me why we currently have an epidemic in cancer rates in Ontario and Canada. Keep in mind drinking water is not remotely the only route of exposure for human beings. The food we eat, the air we breathe, exposure to sun and other skin exposures are all part of the picture.
In the early 1990s the three Middleton St. wells (G1,G2,G3) had Trichloroethylene (TCE), Trichloroethane (TCA), Tetrachloroethane (also known as Perc), and Dichloroethylene (DCE) in them. They had TCE, TCA, Perc and Chloroform in them as well in the 1980s. The probability is that additional toxic chemicals in their own right would only be more hazardous in combination. That said all Ontario (& likely other jurisdictions) base individual criteria on the unlikely assumption that that chemical alone is in the water.
TCE was found in the early 90s at concentrations between 5 and 6 ppb. in well G1. Well G2 was between 7 and 10 ppb. Well G3 was between 7 and 9 ppb..
In the late 1980s well G1 had TCE at 6.4 ppb, well G2 had 13.7 ppb. and well G3 had 14.5 ppb..
TCA was found in the early 90s in well G1 at concentrations between 2 and 5 ppb.. Well G2 had TCA at concentrations between 4 and 11 ppb.. Well G3 was between 5 and 8 ppb..
TCA was found in the late 80s in well G1 at 3.7 ppb.. Well G2 was at 9.3 ppb. and well G3 was at 10.2 ppb..
Perc was found in well G3 in the early 90s between 1 and 2 ppb.. and in slightly lower concentrations in well G2.
Perc was also found in well G2 at 2.2 ppb. and well G3 at 2.5 ppb. in the late 80s.
DCE was also found in well G3 in the early 90s between .4 and .6 ppb..
My interpretation is that the Region of Waterloo have been trying to stay either ahead of or at least within the drinking water standards of the time. I also believe that they have accomplished this through management actions including dilution with other less contaminated wells. They now have a state of the art system at the Middleton wells but appear to be satisfied with keeping TCE present albeit below 2 ppb.. My assumption is that they are saving money on treatment by so doing. That is a management decision and it is wrong. Cambridge residents have a long exposure time (decades) to multiple toxic chemicals in their water and instead of the Region of Waterloo spending money on legacy projects for their politicians (ION) they need to be reducing TCE even further in Cambridge's drinking water.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Just tell us the truth. Stop sugar coating the extensive and pervasive results of industrialization and its' disgusting toxic waste disposal between the late 1800s and 1980. This waste disposal was to simply send solvents, pesticides and toxic waste water into the nearest ditch, canal, creek or waterway. More "enlightened" companies farther away from the Grand River and its' tributaries used waste lagoons, pits and ponds out behind their properties, presumably somewhat out of site. To this day Cambridge's (& Kitchener-Waterloo) groundwater is still contaminated with these carcinogenic compounds.
The Region of Waterloo's Annual (Drinking Water) Reports are out. They are on the Region's website under the headings of Environment, Water, Quality & Treatment. Up until this year you could access reports going back a decade or so. Those are now gone. I accept some blame for this. I have been posting here each year for the last several years my take on these reports. I also accept some credit for a new page at the start of these reports. It is a list of definitions of some of their shortforms and acronyms. Three years ago I and Woolwich Township went after the Region big time in regards to the disgrace of third world water supply in West Montrose. This included requesting that the Region clarify all their stupid acronyms on their Annual (drinking water) Reports.
A year or so ago I gave my opinion that the Middleton St. Wellfield was the most expensive water in the Region. This was based upon the amount of treatment necessary as well as the recent upgrades in 2013. An Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP) was added to the treatment currently available. This is not to detract from the extensive treatment costs for Grand River water taken from the Hidden valley area and piped over to Mannheim for extensive treatment.
The Middleton Wellfield has always been problematic. It's right beside the Grand River and besides other nearby industries is blessed with Canadian General Tower (CGT) across the street. Among many other things CGT was credited with adding phalates to the sediments in the Grand River beside their plant. Since the addition of AOP in 2013 I've been watching Trichloroethylene (TCE) concentrations carefully in their Annual Report for this wellfield. Back in 2009 TCE was found at concentrations ranging from 2.3 to 4.4 parts per billion (ppb) with most results in the 3.4 Area. By 2011 they ranged from 1.8 to 2.9 ppb. with most results in the 2.6 Area. 2013 had TCE ranges of .7 to 3 ppb. with most results in the 1.4 Area. Three wells have historically been the source of TCE (& more) into the Middleton Well System. Based upon six different wells now being part of this system I had believed that a significant amount of dilution and mixing of well water was going on. I refer to this as managing pollution not fixing it.
Now here's where it gets a little weird for me. They've got a new multimillion dollar system. A little fine tuning and operator experience usually can maximize the potential of a new water treatment system. By 2014 TCE ranged from 1.2 to 1.9 ppb. in the Middleton Wellfield results. Most results were in the 1.6 ppb. area. Hmm, this is higher than the previous year.
2009 - 3.4 *********************************************************************************************************************
2011 - 2.6 *********************************************************************************************************************
2013 - 1.4 *********************************************************************************************************************
2014 - 1.6 *********************************************************************************************************************
In 2015 the TCE results were between 1.1 and 1.9 ppb. with the most results in the 1.4 ppb. Area.
Now the most recent data ie. for 2016. We have results between 1.13 and 1.6 ppb. with most results in the 1.3 to 1.4 area. After three plus years of running this system have they hit diminishing returns of TCE removal from Cambridge's drinking water? Or in the alternative are they using this system to manage contamination rather than to eliminate it? Is the cost ever increasing to reduce TCE concentrations closer to zero and they've made a management decision to accept greater health care costs down the road for the alleged one or two in a million increased cancers? With over 40% of our population now able to EXPECT cancer at least once in their lifetimes the so called risk assessment numbers have never impressed me.
Tomorrow I'm going to post in regards to the concentrations of TCE in the Middleton St. wellfield in the 1980s and 1990s. It is not good. I will also add a few concentrations of other toxic solvents to let you know what you've already been exposed to. Cancer sometimes takes decades to develop. Past toxic exposures do not "toughen" you up. They make you more likely to succumb to current even lower exposures of these toxic substances.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Forrest Gump`s mother sure had it right. Really what could be more stupid than literally covering up a Dioxin, DDT sink with twenty-five feet of gravel and then paving it. That is the new plan for the contaminated farm on the east side of Chemtura. A much larger, more intrusive bridge across the Canagagigue Creek would also be required. What do you think the chances are of dredging the creek bed to remove Dioxins and DDT after a new bridge is installed.
Yes Elmira needs a by-pass and perhaps we also need more employment lands as stated. This however has an awful stench of corruption to it. Is it coincidence that this is coming to the front burner shortly after CPAC and MTE Consulting discovered the longtime flow of Chemtura`s liquid contamination onto the Stroh farm? Is it coincidence that when CPAC had Chemtura and the Ontario M.O.E. on the ropes over east side contamination in 2014 that Woolwich Council dissolved their own Council appointed CPAC?
There will be a statutory public meeting in June. This linking of good ideas with bad is a normal and usual political ploy. It is used to sell a really awful idea that will however benefit some at the expense of others. Once again there will be winners and losers. The winners will be developers and those with power, influence and money. Rest assured no Council members will be hurt by this development. The losers as always will be the environment, the health of citizens, wildlife and local residents downstream.
Mark and Sandy both Chair RAC. RAC should be the group leading the charge against this. Similarily with Mark and Sandy on RAC (Remediation Advisory Committee) Woolwich staff should have been advised of these issues. Guess what. Not a mention in the listing of issues in Report E21-2017 prepared by Engineering & Planning Services, being presented this evening in Council Chambers regarding the Elmira-St. Jacobs Boundary Rationalization. Sandy scoffs at corruption in local politics. Not surprising to me.
Monday, March 20, 2017
This item came up at Woolwich Council back on March 7/17 in Report C04-2017. It refers to a Code of Conduct for municipal councillors as well as boards and committees of Council. It also will be making changes to Conflict of Interest matters as well as adding an Integrity Commissioner to the municipal scene. This of course is occurring shortly after Woolwich and other Region of Waterloo communities added the services of a formal, professional Complaints organization to their programs. That organization is known as Agree Inc. This new one dealing with Integrity issues is known as ADR Inc. out of Toronto. Yes to me I certainly see some duplication of services. A skeptic might even have thought that the initial initiative by Region of Waterloo communities was simply to head off this in the pipe legislative imposition. Boy if only our regional and municipal governments could spend half as much time fighting Chemtura and the Ministry of Environment as they do trying to maintain and expand their local control.
The Conflict of Interest changes have already borne fruit. Councillor Mark Bauman decided to get out ahead of this by publicly declaring a Conflict of Interest at the March 7/17 Council meeting. After years (decades?) of listening to and voting (twice?) in favour of the Jigs Hollow gravel Pit we learn that Councillor Bauman has been friend and neighbour of Ray Kuntz of Kuntz Topsoil, Sand & Gravel for a very long time. This includes Mr. Kuntz coaching Mark's son in minor hockey. There are other Woolwich Councillors who are well acquainted with Mr. Kuntz as well. All this said it is to Mr. Kuntz's credit that he gives back to the community (via coaching). The problem arises of course when these same Councillors are voting on approving a hotly disputed gravel pit owned by mr. Kuntz just outside of Winterbourne. My understanding is that while Preston Sand & Gravel have the aggregate license for the Jigs Hollow Pit, Mr. Kuntz still owns it.
Other embarassing issues are arising out of this new legislation. Isn't it interesting that as a government (provincial) is plunging in the polls and terrified of the next election; they decide to pass progressive legislation increasing transparency and accountability for citizens dealing with their most local, in your face government, namely at the municipal level. I hate to be a skeptic but do I really believe that the provincial Liberals are doing this because it's the right and long overdue thing to do? Hardly.
Woolwich are being reminded of a ridiculous and blatant problem they have regarding Conflicts of Interest on one of their committees of Council. All these reforms are aimed at municipal councils, their boards and committees of council. The public have a right to know who are representing their interests and they have a right to know that these Council appointed citizens are free of outside influences, conflicts of interest and are not benefiting personally from their so called volunteer work on behalf of the public.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
The Waterloo Region Record carried this story titled "State offers prize to defeat carp " on March 6/17. Michigan have a huge interest in tourism and Asian carp will both harm native sport fish as well as recreational boating. In the U.S. boating becomes dangerous as these large fish tend to leap out of the water en masse from the sound of outboard motors, creating a dangerous situation for boaters. The prize is for finding a way to keep them out of Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes however they have already in very small numbers made their presence known even in Lake Erie. Presumably now it's a matter of trying to avoid them taking over as they have in the Mississippi and other U.S. rivers.
There is a crucial lock and dam near Chicago that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been developing a plan to strengthen defences for in order to keep the carp out of Lake Michigan. Unfortunately President Trump and his administration have put that on hold. We await Asian carp's next move.
Friday, March 17, 2017
The Waterloo Region Record carried an excellent story titled "Mercury still leaking near Grassy Narrows" on March 1/17. In going on-line in order to provide a link to it I found numerous stories on Grassy Narrows just not this specific one.
There is both evidence of new mercury still leaking into the river as well as old mercury still held in the river sediments and being bio-accumulated in the fish which the community live on. It makes you wonder how likely the Ontario M.O.E. are to clean up our Canagagigue Creek in Elmira which has contaminated carp, suckers, shiners, chub and minnows if they won't clean up a river system which has contaminated walleye and other sport fish being eaten by both natives and tourists.
Another article published in the Record last July 4/16 was titled "Province ignored minister's 1984 recommendation to clean up mercury in river near Grassy Narrows". This article indicates that mercury has spread at least 100 kilometres downstream in the English-Wabigoon river system. This lets us know that indeed Dioxins/Furans, DDT, PCBs and mercury in Lake Erie are coming from Chemtura Canada in Elmira as well as possibly other closer sources. A couple of remediation methods other than the obvious dredging options are also indicated in this article.
Back to the first article mentioned above there are many things to be learned relevant to Elmira and Chemtura. Firstly the sediment levels still being so high after decades of alleged non-dumping, non-leaking is unlikely. Secondly mercury can travel via groundwater. Interesting as Chemtura have long wrongly refused to admit that possibility for Dioxins and DDT, under any circumstances. Thirdly plain, ordinary removal or dredging is a real option for remediation.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Lou Almeida (GHD Consultants) on behalf of Chemtura Canada updated RAC on a couple of ongoing issues. The first was the East Side Work Plan. This is in regards to soil and groundwater testing of the Stroh farm. The testing done last year and in 2015 on Chemtura's property line clearly indicated that Chemtura contaminants have spread eastwards onto the Stroh farm. Ramin Ansari, Chemtura's hydrogeologist, is coming up from the U.S. next week and hoping to meet with Mr. Stroh in order to work out an access agreement. The Ontario M.O.E. we were told are considering forcing things along if they don't proceed expeditiously. From Mr. Stroh's viewpoint you can hardly blame him for wanting to protect his interests in this matter. Any chances of him selling his property (other than to Chemtura) have just hit zero. Unless of course he can sell it for the proposed Elmira by-pass and bury everybody's problems under twenty-five feet of gravel covered with asphalt.
The off-site Remedial Plan Expansion continues at its' snail's pace. All the additional wells are installed, the expanded on-site treatment system is nearly completed and the new date for start up is now April. Some of the four new wells (W6, W7, W8 & W9) will start pumping contaminated Elmira groundwater in April and the others will be phased in over the next little while. The current W3R will increase pumping dramatically and the new W9 is to pump around 250 gallons per minute while W8 will only pump a couple of gallons a minute. W6A/B are to pump about 100 gallons per minute. Overall our current rate of 55-60 litres per second is supposed to double. Based upon Chemtura's past promises I'm not holding my breathe.
Dr. Neil Thompson of the University of Waterloo has been working with Chemtura to produce an accurate and updated Conceptual Site Model (CSM). This is needed for use in computer modelling and to assist in understanding groundwater and contaminant flow including into and out of aquitards or low permeability zones. There will be a meeting next month in which technical experts will be invited and honest Woolwich citizens specifically excluded to discuss this matter further.
Chemtura and GHD want site specific standards set for the Canagagigue Creek. This is utter corporate and government horse manure yet again. We saw how this game was played back in 2002. A Risk Assessment was done for the Chemtura site; both a Human Health Risk Assessment and an Ecological Risk Assessment. Both were long winded, mathematical, philosophical exercises in manipulation, assumptions, extrapolations, interpolations and wishful thinking. We have just completed a Biological Assessment which shows exceedances in each and every criteria down the length of the creek. Sediments, Benthic biota (midges, chironomids etc.) and fish are all in exceedance of sediment criteria and Tissue Residue Guidleines. The benthic community are uptaking Persistent Organic Pollutants from the sediments and suffering adverse effects. Since when is the environment the sole purview of human beings? Wildlife are suffering and that is fact. Human beings do not live in the creek or spend as much time beside it as wildlife. This Human Health Risk Assessment is worse than bogus. It is elitism, credentialism and corporatism run amok. An honest broker, which the Ontario Ministry of Environment are not, would stop this cold, now.