This Blog will discuss politics, government, corruption, police, S.I.U., courts, education, min. of attorney general, min. of labour, v.o.i.c.e. and other current and past events of interest to concerned citizens. In the "About me" section to the right and down I have included the names of persons whom I have tremendous respect for. Their influence on me however has been primarily environmental (and personal) and this is therefore a disclaimer that all words posted on this Blog/Website are mine and I alone am responsible for them. I say this with the greatest respect and affection to my friends.
Saturday, September 28, 2019
ELMIRA WATER WOES: THE TRIUMPH OF CORRUPTION, DECEIT, AND CITIZEN BETRAYAL
69 .... A Very Odd Decision
70 ....Both Good and Bad in 2004
72 ....Fires Burning With and Without Smoke
72 ....Perhaps the Badger Game
74 ....Never-ending DNAPL Cover Ups
76 ....Popcorn Lung
A Very Odd Decision
There was an extraordinarily bizarre incident at Susan Bryant’s home in Elmira that needs to be mentioned. I no longer know the exact date even though I was present at the time. My best estimate is that it took place in the summer of 2004 although it might have been the following year. It was one more strange incident on top of so many that one’s mind can only hold so many dates and times correctly. I got the call from Ms. Bryant probably around 9:30 or 10 o’clock in the morning. This call was not at all unusual to me because we were friends and colleagues. My respect for her and belief in her basic honesty and decency had been steadfast. Although she was an APT member and I an EH-Team member, I had made it of paramount importance never to give her or any other citizen or member of either group the idea that we were not on the same page in regards to restoring the environment in and around Elmira, Ontario. I was adamant that there would not be anything other than respectful debate and discussion on any matters of disagreement. I have already stated a number of issues in which there was disagreement, such as UPAC becoming a committee of council in 2000 as well as the major DNAPL issue that APT had badly mishandled in January 1994. Therefore, Ms. Bryant and I talked regularly and routinely, comparing notes and questions on various matters regarding Uniroyal/Crompton.
Ms. Bryant’s call to me was a little unusual but no big deal as far as I was concerned. Her husband had already left for the day to go to his job at Renison College (University of Waterloo) and she wanted to cut their grass. Her lawnmower wouldn’t start and would I come over and see if I could get it started. Susan and Darrol’s home on Park Street was all of a four - minute drive from my wife’s and my home on Church Street. I don’t recall if I was working shift work at the time or why I was home during presumably a weekday. I got to Ms. Bryant’s home shortly afterwards and she took me to her recalcitrant lawnmower. Indeed, a few pulls on the cord and nothing was happening. Hmm. I suspected a spark plug problem and if I recall correctly, I removed the spark plug. About that time I heard a voice say “Hello Alan”. Fortunately I was already sitting on the ground because I might otherwise have fallen over in shock when I saw it was Dwight Este, the Environmental Health and Safety Manager employed at Crompton. Okay, I thought as I gathered my wits. Ms. Bryant hadn’t said anything about Mr. Este coming over so perhaps he was just delivering a report or document that Susan had requested. Nope, Ms. Bryant had phoned him regarding her lawn mower problem. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. What the bloody hell was going on? Why in ten million years would Ms. Bryant ever contact Uniroyal/Crompton about a lawn mower problem and why would she contact me as well? My recollection is that either Ms. Bryant or Mr. Este later on clarified that Ms. Bryant had called Mr. Este first for help but he was either in a meeting or otherwise engaged. He was at work after all. Therefore, she called me to fix the problem.
Well, it turned out that Mr. Este was quite competent with lawnmowers and he figured out the problem shortly. We departed with Mr. Este presumably back to work and me back home. Was I stunned? Yes. Was I shocked? Yes. Did I put two and two together and either come up with four or any other number? I did not. When your basic premise is that your friend and colleague is honest and straightforward, then you don’t jump to either conclusions or confusions. When I later asked Ms. Bryant why on earth she would phone Crompton for a personal favour she simply made it out to be an insignificant, trivial impulse. I really can’t recall any specific excuses or reasons but I was left in the position of either accepting her response that it was no big deal or I could start to come up with some very negative answers of my own.
I have previously stated that I was very naïve in regards to human psychology, human motivations, frailties and weaknesses. I absolutely never remotely considered that Ms. Bryant could be co-opted or corrupt. I never considered that she was anything but a dedicated citizen, mother, wife, and human being with a serious commitment to the environment. Heaven help me, but as I’m writing this in 2018 I’ve just had a horribly, nasty thought. This thought absolutely never crossed my mind literally before today. Other than that bizarre happening with the lawn mower I have had absolutely no reason to ever suspect the following. That said maybe this possible interpretation is less shocking and less damaging than what could have been my first thought. Maybe Susan wasn’t co-opted at that time. Maybe it was some sort of personal thing with Mr. Este. There I said it. I repeat I don’t know that but it makes no sense otherwise phoning the public persona of the town polluter for personal help with a lawnmower.
Both good and Bad in 2004
In August 2004, the MOE laid yet another control order on Crompton. This one was in regards to the June 11, 2004 fire and explosion as well as a total of twenty-one spills over the previous five years. Now these twenty-one spills included fugitive air releases along with spills into the Creek. The June 11, 2004 incident likely was the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as David Ash’s tenure at Crompton in Elmira was concerned. He was replaced as General Manager of Crompton in September 2004 by Ron Lackner. I viewed his departure as a case of being “consolidated” as he so cutely referred to the departure of Brian Beatty as Uniroyal’s consultant more than a decade earlier. Whether or not Mr. Ash actually bore direct responsibility for the June 11th explosion and fire is unlikely however he seems to have been held accountable in some ways.
In September 2004, Dr. Henry Regier formally appealed to the Auditor General of Canada for assistance, support, and funding towards the cleanup of the Crompton plant in Elmira. Dr. Regier accurately pointed out that Uniroyal Chemical had been involved in war time production of explosive stabilizers on behalf of the Canadian government. He also pointed out that Uniroyal had produced Agent Orange on behalf of the U.S. military in the ten-year American War on Vietnam. Another reason to appeal for federal help had to do with the fact that there was a significant federal focus on the Great Lakes as well as federal cooperation and jurisdictional environmental overlap with the United States. The Canagagigue Creek in Elmira flows into the Grand River, which then dischargs into Lake Erie. Canada and the U.S. also worked together on the International Joint Commission (IJC), which involved environmental remediation of the Great Lakes.
There were other reasons why it seemed to make sense to have the federal government involved. First, the provincial government certainly wasn’t doing a great job. This poor job performance included their lack of overall funding as well as the fact that many citizens in Elmira felt that the MOE had been either co-opted by Uniroyal or were somehow under its thumb. Second, the federal government had previously been involved in various studies both of the Creek as well as remediation of toxic waste sites with Uniroyal as the test case. This was mentioned in an earlier chapter and occurred in 1988 to 1989 just prior to the Elmira Water Crisis.
Lynn Myers, Liberal Member of Parliament at the time agreed with Dr. Regier by stating “… it was government agencies … that requested these materials be produced. …in my view, the responsibility has to be partially borne by the federal government … in terms of cleanup."111 CPAC members were also supportive of Dr. Regier’s request to the federal government.
Despite these facts and Dr. Regier’s detailed and proper request, the answer came back with an unequivocal no. In my opinion the rationale given by the Auditor General that Elmira was solely a provincial responsibility, was less than convincing. Perhaps politics, as it always does, raised its ugly head.
There was another incident in 2004 that certainly should have been an eye-opener for me. In one sense it was the only time I ever gave Susan Bryant a piece of my mind. CPAC had designated some of its members to negotiate a Comprehensive Long Range Plan (CLERP) with Crompton. This CLERP was to outline future clean-up projects for Crompton and it encompassed a large variety of issues including air, water, groundwater, and source removal of contaminants. I attended one meeting at the Crompton site, which of course was my first mistake although Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant had no issues with that whatsoever. Pat McLean and Susan Bryant and I talked, discussed, cajoled, and negotiated with Crompton employees, likely including Jeff Merriman and Dwight Este, for at least a couple of hours or possibly more one afternoon. Pat McLean was still a Woolwich Township Councillor and had time constraints forcing her to leave around 4:30 p.m. Susan Bryant seemed much more keen and enthusiastic than I about progress being made at the meeting and near five p.m. abruptly told the Crompton folks that, “Yes we had a deal.” I was momentarily stunned as I knew that she and I were merely representing CPAC and any tentative deal would need to be ratified by CPAC in a vote. Ms. Bryant’s words and manner however made it very clear that she had just unilaterally spoken on my behalf, Pat McLean’s behalf and even all of CPAC’s behalf. That solo declaration crossed a line about a mile past anything that I was prepared to go, even though I was with the person I trusted environmentally more than any other. I then stood and quietly advised Crompton that while it was an excellent meeting, Ms. Bryant had misspoken. Turning to Ms. Bryant I gently reminded her that Pat McLean, Chair of CPAC, was absent and, of course, we had to run this by her first. I did not lecture or get excited in front of the Crompton folks. I saved that for when Ms. Bryant and I were outside in the parking lot. Once there and out of sight and hearing of any Crompton personnel, I demanded to know what the hell she was thinking. I made it abundantly clear to her that she did not have a veto, a unilateral vote, or anything even close to that. She, like me, was but a single vote among several CPAC members and we represented them in these talks. No one had given us any right to finalize deals or arrangements on their behalf. Ms. Bryant was appropriately contrite and suggested that she had just temporarily gotten carried away as she felt that we were so close to a deal with Crompton. Once again, I let bizarre behaviour go as I believed her that it was simply a one- off, an aberration, an honest mistake while under pressure. I was blind.
In December 2004, Uniroyal/Crompton, after four previous attempts and failures, finally achieved the *Responsible Care designation. They did not remotely deserve it by any standard whatsoever. I expect that Crompton simply advised the Canadian Chemical Producers Association (CCPA) that they and their dues would be departing if they felt that they were not going to be receiving the designation any time soon. Another thought is that both parties wanted Crompton to receive the *Responsible Care designation; however, they needed some sort of rationale. In my opinion the CCPA got tired of waiting for Crompton to do something positive environmentally, and hence, they grasped at the first possible straw of improvement. That may well have been the replacement of Dr. David Ash after the June 2004 fire and explosion with Ron Lackner. Mr. Lackner, at least on the surface, seemed to be a gentler, kinder version than Mr. Ash. All smoke and mirrors in my opinion, however.
Late in 2004, Crompton announced that it was going to excavate contaminated Creek banks and part of an island in the Canagagigue Creek where it flows through the Crompton property. The idea was to remove dioxins and DDT that adhered to the soil particles and which could be mobilized via heavy rains or flooding in the Creek. The initial source of the dioxins and DDT to the Creek banks was disputed with Uniroyal/CRA’s usual logic. No, the chemicals hadn’t been transported there via groundwater. They had been deposited along the banks via dredging the bottom of the Creek. So, how exactly did these Uniroyal signature chemicals get into the bottom of the Creek in the first place? Well, they were transported overland via storm water from various waste pits on the west side claimed Crompton. The reality, of course, is that these hydrophobic compounds can be readily mobilized by solvent contaminated groundwater as well as by heavy surface water flows.
There certainly was no doubt that dioxin and DDT concentrations were high in and around this south-west corner of Crompton. In fact, this area of the Creek was exactly beside the west side ponds and all the contamination formerly in and beneath them and currently just beneath them. The timing was also such that the Upper Aquifer Containment & Treatment System (UACTS) had been running in that south-west corner since 1997 and was believed to mostly stop the groundwater contamination from discharging into the Creek at this location.
This clean-up was extensive and wasn’t completed until November 2006. A piece of the island was actually totally removed and the Creek banks were partially removed and what was left was stabilized so as to inhibit future erosion of soils into the Creek. While all CPAC members were fully in support of this project, I did find the timing a little peculiar. Yes, in 2003, CPAC had supported remediation work being done in that area via the three- page, 2003 Request For Action. Therefore, CPAC members were all ecstatic that Crompton was stepping up like this. Perhaps that might have been a more appropriate time, after completion of the project, for Crompton to have received their *Responsible Care designation. It would have made sense and it would have been much more difficult to argue against it. We had in our 2003 Request For Action suggested priority items but other black and white urgent issues seemed sometimes ignored while others that were needed, suddenly were green-lighted with little or no discussion or presentations at CPAC. It was one more example of back door, back room negotiations among Crompton, the MOE, and third parties all while bypassing the Crompton Public Advisory Committee. Funny how after they all got the boot by Mayor Todd Cowan in 2011, none of them other than Pat Mclean and Susan Bryant ever applied to be on CPAC, RAC or TAG again. That was unfortunate because there certainly were a few good and honest members on that committee. My opinion is that they too began noticing anomalies and then the removal of the whole committee by Todd Cowan and the new Woolwich Council was simply the final straw.
Fires Burning With and Without Smoke
Dr. Henry Regier departed from APT Environment and joined the Elmira Environmental Hazards Team with Richard Clausi and I in 2005. Recall that we had lost Esther Thur two years earlier. While he was welcomed within the EH-Team by Richard Clausi and I, I did have concerns regarding “poaching” him from APT. I phoned Susan Bryant and to my astonishment she had absolutely zero concerns with his departure from APT and in fact welcomed his joining the EH-Team. It took me many years to finally figure that one out correctly. You know patience is a virtue and this book is a direct result of patience and slowly figuring out some things that were never supposed to be figured out.
The June 2004 fire and explosions that appeared to have caused the departure of David Ash from Crompton have never really ended. The company seems able to go for a few years without them but, just when you think you’ve experienced the last one, boom, you hear, see, or smell yet another. A public meeting was held at Lions Hall in Elmira on March 23, 2005 to discuss the causes of the June 11, 2004 major fire at Crompton. The public were advised that the causes were unknown. Well, with hindsight being 20/20, I wonder if the presence of methane from the on-site, south-west corner, former municipal landfill named M2 could have been the cause or an aggravating factor. What is clear is that if the company or any of their partners in pollution didn’t want the cause to become public, then for sure it would never see the light of day. Eventually, citizens begin to understand that blatant lies are to be expected. Certain elephants in the room would absolutely never be admitted to by Uniroyal Chemical and all their successors.
During this year of 2005 we had a meeting of the Soil and water Sub-Committee of CPAC at Dr. Regier’s home. At that time the members were Fred Hager, Henry Regier, Susan Bryant, and me. Somewhat slightly to our surprise Susan Bryant showed up with the CPAC Chair, Pat McLean. No big deal however unusual as Ms. Mclean was way out of her league and comfort level. She was an excellent chair in regards to organizational matters and in regards to running meetings, but she clearly did not appear to have read the technical reports perhaps beyond the Executive Summary.
During this meeting I commented in general that we all had to a certain extent been co-opted by the process and we were tacitly accepting the snail like “progress” and other bureaucratic behaviours exhibited by both Crompton and the Ontario Ministry of Environment. To the astonishment of Fred Hager, Henry Regier and me, Susan Bryant went ballistic! I instantly made it clear that my comments were for everyone, myself included, and that it was almost an inevitable consequence of sitting down with the polluter and regulators on their terms and dealing with them. Susan Bryant was not to be mollified and stormed out. Five minutes later, after giving the rest of us a lecture, so did Pat McLean. Fred Hager, Henry Regier and I were astounded a second time. Again, it was to be years later before I figured out exactly what was afoot.
On July 19, 2006, another fire and explosion occurred, this time in the Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) a fancy name for an incinerator. We were told that fan blades had ignited some flammable vapour. This fire coming recently after the June 11, 2004 fire was scrutinized carefully by both the media and by CPAC members. Concerns were such that residents returning to town were directed to a staging area at the Price Choppers near the edge of town on Arthur Street, the main street in Elmira, until officials were certain that it was safe to enter the area. The residents of Pilgrims Provident Retirement Home located nearby on Duke Street were evacuated by Grand River Transit buses.
Ron Ormson of CPAC sent a Letter ToThe Editor of the Elmira Independent asking why the Community Alert Network (CAN) telephone warning system had not been activated. He also advised that this latest fire and explosion comes much too soon after the last major fire and explosion in June 2004 when a wastewater tank exploded. Ron felt that Woolwich Township officials had failed to activate the warning system on a timely basis. There had also been a small fire at Crompton just a few months earlier, as well.
Perhaps The Badger Game
James Michener in his book “Centennial” makes reference to a “badger game”. Prior to reading his book a few years later, I had not heard of the term. Differences in Mr. Michener’s “badger game” to what occurred here in Elmira, include in his book the use of physical threats as well as the main motive being financial.
This one incident clearly revealed to me that something serious and bizarre was going on. Again it was a case of refusing to think ill of a friend and colleague. I admit that there are other interpretations of the bizarre behaviour of both the Bryant’s than mine. Some of the other interpretations are less damning and some are more so. You, the readers, feel free to determine any other interpretations.
As I walked to my car parked in the laneway beside the Bryant’s house all I could think of was what the hell just happened? Was that a set up of some kind? What in the name of God was Susan doing. What the hell, was Darrol part of whatever that was? I had many questions and zero answers. For not the first time I had serious concerns about Susan Bryant’s behaviour, but this time I couldn’t pretend to myself that it was nothing. Something very weird just happened .
It started with a phone call. One of hundreds over the previous roughly fifteen years. We talked often on the phone as both of us were persistent and adamant that the best possible clean up needed to be done in Elmira. We worked together in the citizens’ forum known as CPAC or the Crompton Public Advisory Committee. I never hesitated to share any new facts or data with Susan anymore than I would with Dr. Henry Regier and Richard Clausi of the Elmira Environmental Hazards Team (EH-Team). I trusted Susan Bryant’s integrity implicitly and always had. Certainly neither of us were naïve about whom we were dealing with. Uniroyal and Chemtura combined with the Ontario MOE had spent a decade and a half misrepresenting facts in what appeared, with but a few exceptions, to be never ending attempts to minimize the extent of pollution in the air, the soil, the surface water and the groundwater.
Probably within ten minutes of the phone call, I, as usual, knocked on the unlocked, side of the house, screen door. Nobody was in sight in the kitchen so I stepped in and hollered Susan’s name. This was typical as it was a large old house and if she wasn’t in the kitchen she could easily not hear a knock on the door. Susan immediately answered my call with the shout “I’m up here. Come on up.” Most of the time we compared notes, news, reports or whatever in the kitchen but on occasion she had taken me upstairs to the top floor where she kept her Uniroyal files. Therefore being called upstairs was no big deal. Up the stairs that were beside the kitchen I went. I called out for Susan again and she responded “I’m in here.”
I followed her voice into a room on the second floor and there she was with papers and reports spread out on the floor as well as on the bed. Susan was sitting on the bed. She was wearing casual clothing, either pants or blue jeans with a comfortable shirt. Her apparel was not what caught my attention. She was sitting in what I would generally believe to be an uncomfortable position, other than for a few seconds. That is she was sitting with her legs spread very wide apart. It certainly didn’t look either comfortable or normal or usual. I expected that she would quite casually either bring her legs together or perhaps swivel sideways and put her feet on the floor. She did not. She mentioned casually that Darrol had an early class or some other early work commitment that morning and the implication for me was that he had left for work at the University. She started talking to me about whatever the issue of the day was, in other words about her phone call indicating that she had been looking up data on the matter. As of this point in time I no longer have the foggiest notion of what the discovery, questions or news was about. I expect that ten minutes after I left her house that I had no recollection of what the Uniroyal issue was about.
To my surprise Susan kept sitting there with her legs stretched wide apart in what I can best describe as a most unnatural pose. I knew Susan at this point in time for somewhere near fifteen years and also knew her husband Darrol well. I had met her younger children Emma and Lucas and older daughter Jessica and son Ben. Susan knew my wife Betty and my two children Dan and Katie. For a moment I was tempted to make a smart ass comment such as “well Susan are you really that happy to see me” but decided not to. It would have been just so far out of character for me to make a comment like that and it was so far out of character for Susan to be intentionally provocative or whatever else she might have been doing.
Susan kept on talking and behaving as if everything was absolutely normal so I did as well. After a few minutes I thought that this was ridiculous and standing on courtesy, while saying nothing about an odd situation, for someone I knew as well as Susan, seemed even more ridiculous. Therefore I was going to come right out and say to Susan “What are you doing? How can that position be comfortable for you. What’s up?” Before I could do so I heard a creak just outside the door of the room and lo and behold Darrol stepped into view. I was surprised for two reasons. One Susan had led me to believe that he was at work or on his way and two I’d only heard one creak of the old floorboards and there he was. What the hell? Those old wooden floors creaked whenever walked on. Had Darrol been in the doorway of the next room standing still and listening? Then while I was facing Darrol and saying hello or good morning, out of the corner of my eye I saw Susan bringing her legs together, in a reflexive motion that should have happened several minutes earlier. Darrol mumbled a good morning and told Susan that he was on his way to work. Susan and I talked for a couple of more minutes and then wound up the discussion of the Uniroyal issue of the day. Throughout Susan made no mention that anything was bothering her or that she wanted to talk about anything other than Uniroyal Chemical. Yes I should have confronted her then and there and said “What the hell was that all about? What are you doing?” I did not because I was too shocked and I did not fathom what just happened.
Hence my confusion as I walked to my parked car. Hence my questions. Over time and over other incidents I have come to some conclusions on this matter. Susan never spoke of the incident to me, nor did I to her. A few years later after circumstances and other betrayals occurred I did share this incident with three trusted friends. I also shared it with my wife first. You the reader can come to your own conclusion. I felt this was an attempted set up and the purpose was for me to make some inappropriate comments or to act inappropriately and then get “caught” by Darrol. I would then be advised that Susan could no longer work with me as a colleague on either CPAC or the Soil and Water Committee and I should therefore resign. Recall this was Sylvia Berg’s behaviour in telling APT that she could no longer work with me on UPAC because her integrity had been slightly questioned by Rich Clausi in January 1994 over her inappropriate letter of support of Uniroyal to the Canadian Chemical Producers Association. Something similar occurred later on with Pat McLean and Susan Bryant in 2007-2008 in regards to my appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) regarding the inappropriate monitoring well pairs Crompton wanted to use to “prove” hydraulic containment during the Ammonia Treatment System (ATS) construction. Susan Bryant demanded my resignation from CPAC because of my appeal to the ERT.
Ultimately I felt this was a level of betrayal, manipulation and underhanded backstabbing of a friend, supporter and colleague of world class proportions. I have never before and never since seen what I viewed as such scurrilous and contemptible behaviour. Getting stabbed by an opponent or enemy is one thing but being stabbed in the back to this extent by a supposed friend requires a level of supreme nastiness. What exactly was her motivation? Time will tell.
Never - ending DNAPL Cover Ups
Again starting in 2005, DNAPLs magically seemed to be back on the agenda. From 1992 on UPAC and later CPAC discussed, debated, and argued with Uniroyal/Crompton, CRA, and the MOE in regards to DNAPLs in the sub-surface. Were only residual DNAPLs left? Did Crompton’s sub-surface still contain free phase DNAPLs? Had DNAPLs travelled off the Crompton site underneath Nutrite and behind Varnicolor causing high concentrations of chlorobenzene, for example?
In the summer of 2006, a CPAC meeting was held with DNAPLs front and centre on the agenda. CPAC were graced with the presence of several citizens from the City of Cambridge in the gallery who were victims of trichloroethylene (TCE) poisoning in the Bishop Street area of Cambridge. TCE is a particularly nasty chlorinated solvent and it had leaked from two companies on Bishop Street into the sub-surface where it then partially dissolved into the groundwater. The companies were Northstar Aerospace and G.E. The contaminated shallow groundwater flowed towards the Grand River but unfortunately an entire subdivision of homes was between Bishop Street and the Grand River. The TCE in the groundwater volatilized into a gas and could then enter basements via what is called vapour intrusion. TCE is highly carcinogenic and lesser symptoms upon exposure in humans include headaches, vision problems, and neuropathy.
I was aware that a treatment for chlorinated solvents dissolved in groundwater, called In –Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO), was used in Cambridge to help break- down the TCE. Therefore I asked Crompton and the MOE whether this treatment could be used in Elmira. They stated that ground factors were much different here and it could not be used successfully. I felt that they simply had no interest in taking advice directly or indirectly from citizens and lay persons. However when CRA came up with the same idea, years later, it rated a test near pumping well W3 on Industrial Drive in Elmira. Time would prove implementing the test properly was less than stellar, something discussed in Chapter Seventeen.
Both Wilf Ruland, and Jaimie Connolly of the MOE, who were hydrogeologists, spoke to the long-term nature of the DNAPL issue at the Crompton site. The two also suggested that further on-site source removal of DNAPLs was likely necessary for groundwater improvement. Hydraulic containment alone could not do the job. Surprise, surprise. As of (2018) the vast majority of those sub-surface DNAPLs are still on site in the sub-surface and slowly dissolving into the groundwater. Some areas in the south-west corner are mostly hydraulically contained whereas the shallow groundwater contamination in the rest of the site is not. This includes the whole east side where DNAPL contaminated shallow groundwater continues to flow off-site.
In August 2006, I wrote a strong and lengthy critique of this ongoing DNAPL situation for CPAC members that hammered CRA and Crompton for studiously avoiding all the DNAPL evidence and scientific knowledge available while constantly minimizing the presence of either residual or free phase DNAPL on its site. To this day, that 2006 critique has never been given the response or attention it deserves. In fact, again in hindsight, I wonder if that was a significant contributing cause of the behaviour of Ms. Mclean and Ms. Bryant the following year to have me extricated from CPAC. By that time, Dr. Regier had resigned from CPAC partially due to hearing issues leaving me with one less trusted supporter on the committee. At that time when it came to politics, I was as much out of my depth as Pat McLean is with groundwater or any technical issues about it.
DNAPLs were an ongoing topic throughout 2006 at CPAC despite Uniroyal/Crompton/Chenmtura’s resistance. Due to the 2003 Request For Action presented by the Soil and Water sub-committee to CPAC, the MOE and Crompton put DNAPLs back on the agenda. That being said, I knew that challenging the DNAPL status had to be a bit of a difficult topic for Susan Bryant given APT’s bizarre embracing of the DNAPL status quo when the (MOE) accepted Uniroyal/Conestoga Rover’s position in a December 10, 1993 letter. APT’s quiet acceptance then had initiated the split from APT of Richard Clausi, Esther Thur, and myself. Sylvia Berg’s position alone on DNAPLs would not have caused the split; It was her winner take all, hostile attitude, instantly displayed when she won APT members support that did it for me. It seemed clear to me that she felt emboldened to take punitive action against me within APT.
In December 2006, Susan invited me to attend a meeting with Pat McLean and Wilf Ruland at the University of Waterloo. Keep in mind that I was the CPAC “expert” on DNAPLS based both on my discovery of Brian Beatty’s DNAPL misquote way back in 1992 as well as my hard work, research, and effort about DNAPLS since then. We were meeting with two world renowned experts in the field, namely Dr. John Cherry and Dr. Beth Parker, to discuss DNAPLs. What a breath of fresh air to talk with two scientists interested only in the evidence and the facts, and who had no political agenda, no need for ego stroking, nor any other peripheral considerations that I could tell. Wilf Ruland had been a student of Dr. Cherry’s and Wilf considered him a mentor.
Prior to the meeting, as we drove together to Waterloo, I was getting an odd impression. It seemed to me that Pat McLean, Wilf Ruland and Susan Bryant viewed this meeting possibly as a confirmation that DNAPLs were best left alone in the sub-surface. This leave alone position seemed odd to me considering that Susan Bryant, Fred Hager, Henry Regier, and I had all worked together on the 2003 Request For Action, strongly advising source removal of free phase and possibly residual DNAPLs. Regardless, we were soon talking to the two hydrogeologists who offered a number of their various recent publications on the subject of DNAPL management. Well…! Yes Wilf was correct in remembering that when he attended university, the theory of that time was that sub-surface DNAPLS, if disturbed, might be remobilized and move further either vertically or laterally, thus compounding the groundwater contamination problem. However, both Dr. Cherry and Dr. Parker emphasized that new thinking was unanimous that DNAPLs, especially free phase, needed to be either removed physically from the sub-surface where possible or somehow, either physically encapsulated or chemically broken down. Otherwise, their long-term dissolution into the groundwater would contaminate it above drinking water standards for decades or even centuries.
I left the meeting almost floating above the ground. I was ecstatic, whereas the other three were incredibly subdued. What the hell? I found their downcast attitudes very strange. At the meeting when Dr. Parker handed out a number of her and Dr. Cherry’s technical DNAPL publications for later reference, the other three handed them to me stating that I could read them all first. Later, I tried to give them to Susan Bryant for her to read but she never wanted them. It was an eye opening, albeit too late. Not one of the three of them appeared to want to learn more about DNAPLs.
All through the rest of 2007, I asked Pat Mclean and Susan Bryant when we were going to make a presentation to CPAC about this meeting with Drs. Cherry and Parker. IT NEVER HAPPENED. Wilf Ruland, Pat McLean and Susan Bryant NEVER to my knowledge have told anyone at CPAC or the public about this meeting. It was almost as if they had made previous commitments either to Uniroyal/Chemtura or the MOE that they would back off the DNAPL file despite the 2003 CPAC Request For Action. The non-disclosure of the proper DNAPL management from this meeting reminded me of Sylvia Berg asking me alone to sign APT’s critique of the MOE December 10, 1993 letter accepting Uniroyal’s DNAPL position despite the fact that both she and Glenys McMullen had participated as well as me. Both scenarios were and are bizarre and have led me to suspect the worst.
Was the 2007 Ammonia Treatment System (ATS) Certificate of Approval merely a red herring by Pat McLean and Susan Bryant to get me off CPAC? At the time, I found their ATS position ridiculous especially after I had Wilf Ruland in my home and showed him my groundwater data and boreholes logs indicating that CH97 was totally inappropriate to be designated as one of the “well pairs.” Wilf had absolutely no dispute with my data and its interpretation. I could tell that he was trying not to be over enthusiastic about my discovery but I repeat he had zero objections or disagreement with the facts presented to him. Then, after I filed my appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal, I agreed to a sit down with Chemtura, CRA, and the Ontario MOE to determine if a meeting of the minds could occur. The meeting was a sham and absolutely not conducted in good faith by the other three parties. Wilf Ruland presented my information regarding CH97 being an inappropriate well to use as a “well pair” because the screen of the well was drawing both municipal aquifer (MA) water as well as upper aquifer water into it. There was no aquitard between the two aquifers. This stratigraphy would artificially raise the groundwater level in the MA thus incorrectly “proving” that there was hydraulic containment on site because just off-site well CH97 had a higher groundwater elevation reading in the municipal aquifer than the corresponding on-site well.
Mr. Ruland tried, I’ll give him that. CRA simply ignored his facts. CRA arrogantly, as always, advised him and us that they were right. There wasn’t even so much as a hint that Wilf Ruland’s [i.e. mine] points had any merit whatsoever. Mr. Ruland then backed down, I did not. As is my way when dealing with arrogant liars, I bluntly told them off. I advised that my appeal would be reinstated the next day and that I didn’t appreciate having my time wasted by parties with zero intent to either listen or respond factually to my and Wilf’s position. Whether in agreement or disagreement with the undisputed facts about CH97, CRA representatives said no, with absolutely zero technical reasons why they believed they were right and we were allegedly wrong.
This is the background for Wilf Ruland’s further plunging of Pat Mclean and Susan Bryant’s knife into my back. Mr. Ruland then went to CPAC and advised them that he would no longer work for CPAC as long as I was a member. He claimed that my “behaviour” at this meeting attended by him, Henry Regier, Pat McLean, Susan Bryant, CRA, Chemtura, and the MOE was objectionable. Apparently, unlike Mr. Ruland, I am not deferential enough when being lied to by intellectual prostitutes. Unlike Mr. Ruland, I will not be treated disrespectfully and accept it just because the speaker has more credentials than I. Unlike Wilf I am not in a conflict of interest position hoping for future contracts from the MOE and or collaborative, paid private meetings with CRA and Chemtura. Furthermore Wilf apparently viewed Pat and Susan as part of his future paid consulting. I strongly advise Wilf Ruland to stay out of Elmira in the future. I found his behaviour to be contemptible.
Prior to the incidents regarding the ATS planning, Pat McLean showed her true colours. This would have been in June 2007 at her house, six months after the meeting at the University of Waterloo. During this meeting, I again asked Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant what their plans were as far as advising or presenting the conclusions of the DNAPL meeting to CPAC. Pat got quite hostile and I actually thought a little paranoid as she accused me of either working against her or of undermining her. I thought both those scenarios were ridiculous and told her that. Susan kept her own counsel and said nothing. My take on it much later on was that a certain guilty party was expecting pushback for her behaviour and was on her guard. In fact I expect both of them knew that they couldn’t continue their behind – the - scenes gamesmanship and that I was starting to catch on.
A year and a half later there was an article in the December 3, 2008 Elmira Independent describing the November 28, 2008 CPAC meeting.112 The article described a DNAPL discussion and it turned out that CPAC --without my presence --had decided that DNAPLs were pretty much a settled issue. What Pat McLean and Susan Bryant failed to provide CPAC members including myself with was two letters from Wilf Ruland and Jaimie Connolly of the MOE advising that they disagreed with CRA’s conclusions. Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant, of course, still hadn’t advised CPAC of the January 2007 meeting about DNAPLs at the University of Waterloo. During the next reincarnation of CPAC, in 2012, these key letters surfaced and I spoke publicly to CPAC about their significance disputing Chemtura’s and CRA’s do nothing conclusions. Susan Bryant suggested that she and Pat McLean [CPAC Chair] may have failed to send these letters to me because I was not on e-mail at the time. What a pathetic excuse for hiding crucial information from the public.
Uniroyal and successors have always had an amazing ability to land on their feet no matter how serious the problems they caused and eventually had to face. The next chemical used at Uniroyal to cause problems was diacetyl and is but one of numerous highly toxic products that Uniroyal and its successors have manufactured and sold over the decades which were far more dangerous to either human life or wildlife than intended. This is saying a lot when you realize that the company has manufactured so many pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides all designed to kill certain life forms.
Chuck Kuepfer, reporter for the Elmira Independent, wrote an article on May 4, 2007 titled “The hidden dangers of microwaves."113 Chuck talked about diacetyl long used in manufacturing a butter flavouring used in microwave popcorn. Shortly after the lawsuits started in the U.S., Crompton suddenly stopped production of it in Elmira. The odour of this butter flavouring could often be smelled around town and folks didn’t realize that it was harmful. They were wrong because diacetyl has caused severe and irreversible lung damage in people working with the chemical. It allegedly has caused “popcorn lung” in customers who routinely stick their faces into the microwave popcorn bag and inhale the butter flavouring into their lungs. Just one more case of “better living through chemistry” as the chemical companies like to say.
ENDNOTES for Chapter 8
111 Kyle Rea, “Calling on feds to join the party”, Woolwich Observer, September 18, 2004
112 Gail Martin, “Contaminants should be removed, says Marshall”, Elmira Independent, December 3, 2008
113 Chuck Kuepfer, “The hidden dangers of microwaves”, Elmira Independent, May 4, 2007