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.
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
ELMIRA'S WATER WOES: THE TRIUMPH OF CORRUPTION, DECEIT, AND CITIZEN BETRAYAL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
39 ....Uniroyal’s Two Year Stench
40 ....Uniroyal Walks
42 ....Back To the Stench
43 ....The Betrayal of UPAC and the Public
44 ....Esther Thur’s Contributions
45 ....My Resistance to Becoming a Committee of Council
Uniroyal’s Two Year Stench
On August 31, 1998, Gail Gardiner, editor of the Elmira Independent, in an editor’s column wrote, “It’s not hard to imagine UPAC meeting 40 years from now debating how best to decontaminate this site."51 Citizens are half-way towards Gail Gardiner’s 40 year prediction in 2018. I believe her basic point was that UPAC and the public were being taken for a very long ride courtesy of both the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Uniroyal Chemical Limited, Elmira.
The stench that enveloped parts of Elmira during the summer of 1998 was almost unprecedented. The town had suffered from various odours off and on for decades including the Rothsay Concentrates dead animal rendering plant. This 1998 stench, which seemed focused along parts of Duke Street was different. It also attacked often in the middle of the night. It was bizarre and it could make eyes water and breathing difficult. The Woolwich Observer newspaper published an article in its August 28, 1998 edition titled, “Residents raise stink about Uniroyal.” These residents complained about sore throats, constricted breathing, burning eyes, and headaches. Susan Bryant commented in this same article in regards to Uniroyal, “They try to make out like it’s some great mystery. Of course they know what they are producing, they know what they are using."52 Three days later, the Elmira Independent quoted Woolwich Township councillor Bram Hollman as saying “It’s not just an odour. It’s an irritant to people’s noses, throat and eyes."53 Shortly after, a public meeting was held on Duke Street, ground zero for the worst nighttime odours. In the Woolwich Observer’s September 5, 1998 edition I was quoted when I spoke at the public meeting, “Folks, the bottom line is you are being poisoned. Don’t look to Uniroyal, the MOE, CRA, or the Township. If you want something done, you have to do it yourselves."54 Gail Gardiner again in her editor’s column of the September 14, 1998 Elmira Independent advised readers that the Duke Street citizens’ group had a right to be angry. This citizens’ group called themselves RAM (Residents Are Mad) and, considering what they were suffering, Gail Gardiner quite rightly observed, “Niceness is highly over rated."55
Four families, in particular, on Duke Street suffered through the summer and fall of 1998. I had immediately noticed the coincidental timing of the start of the fumigations, ones that began in July 1998 with the start- up of the Off-Site Containment and Treatment System (Off-Site CTS). Early on, Jeff Merriman P. Eng., of Uniroyal did state that its waste water treatment system was the cause of most of the complaints. The four families were the Machens, the Chalmers, the Fulchers and the Posts. These residents lobbied Woolwich Council to lay by-law charges against Uniroyal for the odours they were releasing. Council did not do so although councillors did hire Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin (RWDI) from Guelph, Ontario who were air experts. The MOE ordered an overall odour assessment via a field order laid on Uniroyal. Both the MOE and Uniroyal claimed that the odours were “safe” and that they did not cause health effects. Mention that to the families being rousted out of their beds in the middle of the night with irritation to their eyes, noses, lungs, and with headaches. Finally Uniroyal shared their MOE ordered, via the field order, Air Report with the MOE but not with UPAC or the public. It turned out that Uniroyal had been using a twenty-six year, out of date, computer model. RWDI advised Uniroyal of that ineffective, aged model and suggested they use a program called AERMOD instead. Uniroyal therefore did its air report over, using this up to date modelling method.
In the January 20, 1999 Record we were advised that the Odour Report with the new modelling would be presented to UPAC and the public by March 1999. Councillor Bram Hollman stated that “the odours are still there. They haven’t gone away."56 I had a Letter To The Editor published in the Elmira Independent on January 22, 1999. In reference to Uniroyal I suggested that, “when it comes to honesty, integrity, and intelligence, you, like Bill Clinton, will always be willing to discuss the issue."57 Talk was much cheaper than actually spending money to solve the problem.
While the overnight period in the summer time was poor in Elmira especially if windows were open, that winter wasn’t much better. The February 2, 1999 Record carried a story regarding the ongoing fumigations of Elmira by Uniroyal. Terry Machen was again being driven from his home in the middle of the night trying to escape the overpowering stench. In desperation he phoned Dr. David Ash at home at two am. telling him that if he, Terry, couldn’t sleep, then neither should Mr. Ash be able to. In this same Record article both Terry Machen and Councillor Bram Hollman blasted Uniroyal management and David Ash for their attitudes and behaviour. Far too few Woolwich councillors over the decades have been prepared to call out Uniroyal publicly when they needed to be. Being himself a sensitive individual, Mr. Ash obtained assistance from the Waterloo Regional Police Service which prohibited future late night phone calls from Mr. Machen. Turns out what’s good for the gander isn’t so good for the goose at least according to the Waterloo Regional Police Service.
Three other politicians also stand out in this February 2nd article. Liz Witmer was the Ontario Minister of Health and was as useless as a screen door on a submarine. Norm Sterling, the Ontario Environment Minister was even more useless than Ms. Witmer. The kindest thing I can say about Mike Harris, Premier of Ontario, is that he should have had Liz and Norm as his cell mates. Rose Simone, Record reporter, wrote in the previous days Record that since 1995 the Mike Harris government had cut MOE staff by one third and its budget by one half. If I had to speculate, based upon the MOE behaviour today, I would think that the one third laid off were the more honest and ethical employees. By February 5, 2000, Uniroyal’s Envirodome (aka the Mausoleum) was sixty percent emptied and the contents were transferred to Corunna, Ontario courtesy of both Laidlaw Environmental and Acute Environmental & Safety Services Inc., Waterloo, Ontario. The removal of the toxic wastes from the Envirodome started in September 1999.
UPAC membership had been slowly transformed. Both Ron Ormson and Gerry Heidebuurt had air emissions experience. Mr. Heidebuurt in particular had worked on minimizing noxious fumes in industrial settings for years. Pat McLean, as Chair of UPAC, was on the air subcommittee and the three of them, apparently, spoke a little too harshly for Uniroyal’s liking. On February 15, 1999, Uniroyal walked out of UPAC in the middle of a meeting, vowing never to come back. They were gone for sixteen months and not missed by me for one second of that time. Mr. Ormson, Mr. Heidebuurt, and Ms. Mclean had suggested very critically that Uniroyal were not responsibly handling their fugitive emissions from the plant. Susan Bryant referred to Uniroyal as “corporate bullies” and Gail Gardiner (now Gail Martin), Editor, wrote in the Elmira Independent that Dr. David Ash’s problem was that he believed “UPAC is being mean and Uniroyal won’t play anymore.” Ironically, while dishonest individuals at UPAC had been bad-mouthing me behind my back for years regarding my harsh criticism, yours truly was not a UPAC member when Uniroyal stormed out in mock horror that UPAC members had called them irresponsible.
For seven years, Uniroyal management and their client-driven consultants had their own way at public UPAC meetings. A small change in membership and suddenly Uniroyal people were no longer in control. They picked up their marbles and went home. This lack of direct control was exactly what the MOE, the Township, Uniroyal, and their consultants were not prepared to deal with: namely informed citizens who could see through the hot air and professional bafflegab. Uniroyal and David Ash looked very weak both in the media and in reality. They had been fumigating and poisoning Elmira residents off and on for decades but the previous nine months had been just horrible, particularly for the nearby Duke Street residents. In hindsight, my only question is why, when Uniroyal managers, renamed by then Chemtura, pulled the same stunt fifteen years later, they were not similarly castigated. The unfortunate answer is that Elmira and Waterloo Region residents weren’t paying attention to Uniroyal’s history. They had forgotten that boycotting effective public consultation is how Uniroyal and their successors dealt with public criticism of their corporate pollution behaviour.
Also interesting is Susan Bryant’s take on the MOE in 1999. In the February 5, 1999 Elmira Independent she is quoted as saying “They [MOE ] are under-funded, under resourced. What they do is sometimes pitiful, even to them."58 How oddly Ms. Bryant, behind the scenes, framed Chemtura’s and the MOE’s boycott of 2015. She then quietly [publicly at least] supported Chemtura and the MOE’s refusing to attend Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) public meetings and in fact, participated and encouraged lies and backstabbing of Woolwich volunteers in order to get herself and Pat McLean reappointed to CPAC by the new Woolwich Council. This she did in an April 9, 2015 private meeting held in the Township building. The minutes of that meeting were a disgusting pack of self-serving lies. Self-serving for the MOE, Uniroyal/Chemtura, Pat McLean and Susan Bryant. Just as Uniroyal returned in June 2000 to UPAC after concessions were made privately to them by UPAC Chair Pat McLean [with Woolwich approval], the same thing was done to bring the MOE and Chemtura back to the table. Those details will be forthcoming in a future chapter and they are repugnant.
I have found that hypocrisy often thrives amongst those with power and money. Hence I believe David Ash felt that a corporate noxious fumigation wake up of Terry Machen was acceptable but a night time phone call to Mr. Ash was not. It’s my observation that in the corporate world, collateral damage is usually ignored until the consequences financially outweigh the benefits of doing nothing. In the world of politics, it’s a similar thing only financial consequences are less significant when playing with the public’s money. It’s more about public perception and voting consequences down the road.
Obviously, the news media’s sympathies were not with Uniroyal. Therefore, Uniroyal felt that they needed to take some steps to bolster their image. As of mid- February 1999, Uniroyal agreed to start paying for hotel or motel accommodations for residents ousted from their homes in the middle of the night because of Uniroyal odours.
What am I left to conclude? Uniroyal continuously ignored anyone else’s reality and truth by publicly seeming to claim that they had the right to pollute everything imaginable in Elmira, do as little as humanly possible about it, while at the same time wanting to be treated with kid gloves by the community. Narcissists and spoiled brats in my opinion. Later that month, Mr. Ash was quoted by Bob Burtt in the Record stating in regards to UPAC, “It isn’t as if we walked away from the best thing since sliced bread. We left something that didn’t work.” Sixteen years later Councillor Mark Bauman similarly bleated that CPAC was “dysfunctional.” Seems to me polluters and their friends all use the same playbook to justify their unjustifiable behaviour. To further add icing to the cake, citizens had the chemical lobby group, the Canadian Chemical Producers Association (CCPA) state “I question whose interest UPAC is serving."59 Of course they do because until recently UPAC had been serving Uniroyal’s interests as both the MOE and Woolwich Township intended. What residents had were corporate polluters and corporate apologists both lying and criticizing citizen volunteers trying to do the right thing. That, of course, would never do unless the right thing enriches corporate pockets.
Citizens fought back. Esther and Ed Thur sent a Letter To The Editor of the Record. They challenged Uniroyal’s senior management in Elmira to actually come and live in Elmira rather than in Waterloo. The Thur’s attitude was if you are going to stink out Elmira then come and live here like we do.
Frank Etherington of the Record wrote an article titled, “Political stink in Uniroyal’s ongoing saga.” Shannon Purves-Smith also wrote an excellent Letter To The Editor of the Woolwich Observer praising RWDI and their assistance fighting Uniroyal’s air emissions as well as commenting negatively on Mr. Ash’s and Uniroyal’s departure from UPAC. Gerry Heidebuurt, Ron Ormson, and Pat McLean all supported UPAC’s position and behaviour. Ms. McLean stated that “We [UPAC] are not their PR firm. If Ash thinks that, we have a basic misunderstanding.” She then added, “I think UPAC is starting to work as it should, and that’s what he [Ash] doesn’t like."60 Wow. Hopefully, the readers of this book can understand why I not only was supporting UPAC but also why at that time I continued to be one hundred percent behind Susan Bryant and Pat McLean. UPAC members were indeed working on the air issues. It took me years to understand that private negotiations and deals were being made behind the scenes by a couple of citizens who had neither the knowledge nor the authority to do so. The fact is that Uniroyal and the MOE knew this full well but as long as they viewed the deals as being in their best interests, they didn’t care.
Further public support flowed in. Jonathon Sykes, a well known and respected hydrogeologist from the University of Waterloo, was quoted in the Record suggesting that political will to clean up was the key. Dr. Sykes referenced severe environmental problems in both Woburn, Massachusetts and Toms River, New Jersey as examples of U.S. governmental ineffectiveness. Sylvia Berg and Dr. Henry Regier both made comments in the Elmira Independent advising Premier Dalton McGuinty to do something to ensure the MOE do the job they are supposed to be doing.
I wrote a Letter To The Editor for the March 5, 1999 Elmira Independent. “Uniroyal and David Ash have lost their long time tame committee, and have thus picked up their marbles in search of a different game."61 Mike Hicknell of Elmira sent a Letter To The Editor of the Elmira Independent in which he hammered some local Woolwich Councillors and their myopic pro-business at all costs attitudes.
Ken Reger had a Letter To The Editor published in the Elmira Independent on March 19, 1999. He stated, “If I was charged with drunk driving, my license would be pulled immediately. When Uniroyal pollutes they keep on getting away with it instead of being shut down immediately."62 A week later at a public UPAC meeting, Dr. Henry Regier, after being advised of new odour abatement measures, asked if anyone knew why Uniroyal did not undertake any of these odour abatement measures earlier. Ed Gill of the MOE stated, “It’s a good question.” “Ask the company."63, added Murray Haight who was currently working on temporary assignment with the MOE. The following month Susan Bryant was quoted in the Record stating, “Mr. Stirling’s (Minister of the Environment) response confirms our attempts to get this government and the Environment Ministry to address the environmental problems in Elmira are best described as an exercise in walking around in circles."64
Did a switch flip out of frustration at some point for Susan Bryant? Or were these public comments simply for public consumption while continuing to deal privately with bodies that had no morals or ethics? Did they tell her that UPAC members were impossible because most of them didn’t either read the reports or understand them if they did? Did the MOE and Uniroyal representatives flatter Susan Bryant into submission? Did they tell her that they couldn’t or wouldn’t work with me or Dr. Regier because we were both too unreasonable? Did Uniroyal gamesmanship that failed with Rich Clausi and I, succeed when used on Susan? Did Susan Bryant decide to go rogue and when? Dealing privately with the Ontario Ministry of Environment while being but one vote on the Uniroyal Public Advisory Committee was going rogue.
Back To The Stench
On April 9, 1999, David Chadder of Rowan Williams, Davies and Irwin Ltd. (RWDI) commented in the Elmira Independent about the results of running the numbers through an updated computer air model known as AERMOD. It turns out that the model used by Conestoga Rovers & Associates on behalf of Uniroyal was dated and produced much lower estimates of contaminant concentrations off-site than the newer computer model. A skeptic could be forgiven for thinking that this was the reason why CRA had been using the old model all along. In other words, to minimize their client’s air exceedances.
As if either Uniroyal or the citizens of Elmira needed more reason to be afraid to go outdoors, popcorn lung appeared. On April 1, 1999, the Elmira Independent wrote a story about diacetyl odours coming from the Uniroyal plant. Tim Boose, Uniroyal staff and designated spokesperson, suggested that diacetyl was not dangerous and so it turns out he was wrong and it has since been identified as a health hazard. It seems that sticking one’s nose into a bag of microwave popcorn with artificial butter flavouring (diacetyl), damages one’s lungs. Certainly, the residents of Elmira who used to smile and not be concerned about butter flavouring odours from Uniroyal had reason to be concerned.
On April 20, 1999 in the Record, Bob Trotter wrote that there had been forty years of Uniroyal polluting Elmira as of that date. He stated, “What is needed are government officials and governments with enough guts to enforce the law. The people of this lovely little town have suffered enough."65 Mr. Trotter was a well known local writer and reporter for a very long time. Jeff Merriman of Uniroyal also had an opinion piece in the same edition. I would characterize Mr. Merriman’s comments as self-serving excuses combined with very well done poo poo del toro. “Poo poo del toro” is a term that I have flagrantly and fragrantly appropriated from Dr. Henry Regier. This is an example of the difference in style between Dr. Regier and me. We both called a spade a spade but Dr. Regier always had a superior method of rubbing offenders’ noses in their own ridiculous and sometimes contradictory environmental positions.
A month later at a UPAC meeting involved citizens learned from Murray Haight, who was still working for the MOE, that Uniroyal employees were routinely leaving doors and windows open in Building #19, the source of the diacetyl odours. Dr. Regier responded, “This is ridiculous. Therefore the vacuum system’s effectiveness is reduced."66 The purpose of the vacuum system was to funnel odours and air emissions to a scrubber system prior to their discharge to the air. Despite its absence from UPAC meetings, UPAC members continued to publicly hammer Uniroyal, over its air emissions and failures to date to achieve any relief for Elmira residents.
The Elmira Independent of June 25, 1999 advised that Murray Haight would stay with the MOE until the end of 1999.This edition, also carried a picture and a story of my parked car in front of the Elmira arena with a banner on the roof. The banner read, “Uniroyal Having a Bad (H)air Day.”67 Uniroyal representatives were much less amused than the rest of the UPAC members. Henry Regier and Pat McLean both agreed with Susan Bryant and I that the Envirodome should remain on site after being emptied later in the year.
So let’s review. The period from spring 1998 until summer 2001 was brutal for residents living near the Uniroyal Chemical plant in Elmira, Ontario. The air emissions were beyond obnoxious odours and were better described as toxic chemical fumigations, which left some residents nauseous and gasping for air. In the July 9, 1999 Elmira Independent, Tim Boose, Project Engineering Staff of Uniroyal, described the new $300,000 thermal oxidation unit as a “flameless incinerator”.68 This incinerator was to deal with air emissions from one of its production processes. In the August 20, 1999 Independent, the Ministry of Environment indicated that their officials were laying a field order upon Uniroyal, to increase abatement measures required on the waste water treatment system causing the odours.
Other issues were also being discussed and argued at UPAC during the air emissions crisis including the lack of hydraulic containment in the upper aquifers on the Uniroyal site. The MOE and Uniroyal blatantly violated the November 4, 1991 Control Order that ordered full hydraulic containment in all aquifers. Also discussed at UPAC were lindane and DDT still in the sub-surface on site. Fred Hager of UPAC brought a 1946 article in Canadian Fisherman to UPAC that extolled the wonders of both DDT and lindane.
In early fall of 1999, Susan Bryant had an excellent Second Opinion article in the Record about Terry Machen and his family and their tribulations over the past two summers. The September 1999 UPAC meeting was covered in the news media on September 24, 1999. Both Dr. Henry Regier and Ron Ormson asked meaningful questions regarding air emissions. At this point in time, it seemed as if folks believed that production processes involving PAO and diacetyl were the odour culprits. Ken Chalmers stated that “The Ministry doesn’t have any backbone.”69 My common comment at the time was that they were a toothless tiger. In the October 15, 1999 Elmira Independent, Tim Boose advised UPAC that all one hundred and twenty-five odour control measures were now completed for Uniroyal’s manufacturing processes including replacing a wet scrubber system with a dry one. This was supposed to be a superior emissions control method. Hopes were high that these efforts signaled the end of Uniroyal’s ongoing fumigations of Elmira. It did not.
The Betrayal Of UPAC and The Public
The stench was not over but a new issue arose at UPAC in very early 2000. There was a sudden urgency according to the UPAC Chair to lead UPAC from the darkness back into the light of municipal authority. It was a patently ridiculous concern and made absolutely no sense whatsoever. What the hell was Pat Mclean doing and why was Susan Bryant in support of making this change? In hindsight, it’s obvious to me. Pat McLean was a Woolwich councillor. She and Mayor Bill Strauss were tight. Sylvia Berg and family either had left Elmira or were about to. Susan Bryant while being weak technically knew how to influence and manipulate people. Wingmen or women were essential. She and Pat McLean were a match made in heaven as Susan had the green reputation and Pat had the political influence. Susan Bryant could not run for office as she was and is an American citizen. Pat McLean was not only a Woolwich councillor and Chair of CPAC but she had the ear of the mayor. Lastly, quoting Susan Bryant in a private conversation with me, Pat McLean was a control freak. Remember, at the time UPAC’s membership had changed and Uniroyal had walked out. Something had to be done. Manipulation was key. Furthermore, Woolwich Council who had always supported Uniroyal, realized that they had to get Uniroyal representatives back into the public consultation fold, both for public appearances sake and to keep the MOE and the province happy. Both Susan Bryant of APT and I of the Elmira Environmental Hazards Team (EH-Team) had been invited to rejoin UPAC yet again. This time, Susan Bryant joined first and a few months later the EH-Team did as well. Ms. Bryant likely had been in discussion with Pat McLean, the UPAC Chair. One or the other of them realized how strong a team they could be. Despite their combined technical lack of knowledge, politically they could control UPAC. Mostly I, representing the (EH-Team) joined based upon UPAC’s strong stance regarding Uniroyal’s ongoing air emissions. I still trusted Susan Bryant implicitly and while suspicious of Councillor McLean, deferred to Ms. Bryant’s support of her. I hope the readers understand that my sins were sins of omission. I trusted people to be who they pretended to be. I got to know Susan Bryant very well over the decades and was still shocked in 2007, 2008, and over the next decade by her nasty, back stabbing behaviour towards a long time friend and colleague. As you will see after my blinders were off, Susan’s behaviour became less subtle. It was an eye opening for me.
Pat McLean kept telling UPAC members that they had to make undefined changes in order to bring Uniroyal management back to the discussion table. I kept asking “Why?” UPAC had changed and that was expressly why Uniroyal had left. I made it very clear to Pat McLean that concessions must not be given to Uniroyal simply to bring them back to UPAC meetings. She stated that of course concessions wouldn’t be made. She lied.
Is lying ever justified? Is lying to friends and colleagues ever justified? Do the ends justify the means? Is it possible that in the history of the world that lying to one’s friends and colleagues was ever for the greater good? Well, of course, I fully expect that sometime, somewhere, under circumstances that we don’t know, lying could be justified. Does this make it likely that these particular lies were justified? Not in my opinion. What especially makes the motivations suspect is the sheer number of deceptions that both Pat and Susan participated in. They didn’t remotely just deceive me. They deceived APT, of which eventually Pat became a member. They misled UPAC, CPAC, the public and the media on this matter and others.
Again, is there any excuse? Is there any overpowering reason that compelled them to participate in a decades' long deception of everyone around them? You should have seen the look on Uniroyal employee Dwight Este’s face when he showed up at Susan Bryant’s house to fix her lawnmower and found me there. It was priceless. I only wish I could say that I knew exactly what was going on. I didn’t. I was as surprised as Dwight was. What the hell was going on? Everything eventually became clear to me. Is it even remotely possible that Pat and Susan sincerely believed that they and they alone were capable of sitting down and negotiating with the MOE and or Uniroyal staff? Could they possibly have believed that the pair of them was superior in any sense to the rest of the stakeholders involved with cleaning up the Creek and the Elmira Aquifers? Again I was naïve to the maximum. At that time I viewed Pat as a glorified secretary. Susan had advised me that Pat was very sensitive to the fact that her education was so limited in comparison to most of us at UPAC. I was quite willing to admit that she had skills in running a meeting as chairperson, regardless of her extraordinarily limited technical understanding of groundwater, contamination, chemicals, etc. I also had always been extremely respectful of Susan’s willingness to read technical reports and try to understand them. To my knowledge her formal education in mathematics and sciences probably ended around Grade 10 or 11. She had great skills in the English language both as an editor and as a writer. Her education ended at the university level with her studies again being in English and I believe that she taught English both at the university level as well as commercially for private companies.
To answer some of my earlier questions I believe that Pat was never seduced to the dark side. In my opinion, she was always already there. Susan Bryant, on the other hand, did believe in standing up for the environment. I believe that she sincerely has always wanted to improve the quality of the Canagagigue Creek. I think that she likely came to the realization long before I did that the whole process of public consultation was a joke. It was a way for all the guilty parties to play a game. It was always intended to be an opportunity for Uniroyal Chemical Ltd. to outsmart and bafflegab the locals. Some, such as Ken Reger and Esther Thur, could not be fooled but they did not have the formal tools and education to stand up to the verbal onslaught of puffery, junk science, and brazen horse manure of Uniroyal and their fellow travellors including the MOE. Some, like me, figured that we could stand up to and fight on Uniroyal’s own terms. We could, but the game was still rigged. The majority of parties at any public consultation body would always, either directly or indirectly, be controlled by Uniroyal and their friends, including Woolwich Township. I think that Susan Bryant decided that she could outsmart all of them. She aligned herself with Pat McLean in 2000 because she knew that Pat McLean represented local political power. It was a deal with the devil that was always going to end in Woolwich councillors having the final say. It backfired on Woolwich power brokers only once in the last thirty years and that was in October 2010 with the ouster of Bill Strauss and most of his council.
Esther Thur’s Contributions
I am going to reproduce here the text of a July 10, 2017 posting I published in my Blog, the Elmira Advocate. The title is “A Review of the Uniroyal Wars”. Here it is verbatim:
“Esther Thur said it well and said it clearly decades ago: “Apt did not form to talk to Uniroyal. They did not form to be nice. They formed to fight Uniroyal”. APT also did not form in order to sit in private meetings or negotiations with either Uniroyal Chemical or the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Susan Rupert was one of the three original founders of APT along with Sandra Bray and Esther Thur. Susan Rupert warned against APT getting too close to the very parties they were opposing. Those warnings fell upon deaf ears and as a result two or three ambitious people have upended APT’s direction. Susan Rupert was all about consensus within the group. She was not about titles such as President or Vice-President. Those titles came after her departure. The rest of APT has forgotten. They care but they do not want to see what has happened. They want the best of APT to live on in memory. That is understandable.
There have been many tactical and strategic mistakes by APT members and citizens overall. The local political powers in support of Uniroyal have fortunately made their share as well. Their ability to dissemble and lie and manipulate has been Machiavellian. One of the biggest mistakes by both APT members and UPAC was allowing Councillor Pat McLean to drag UPAC into being a committee of Woolwich Council. Esther and I both spoke against that move. Esther made it very clear that ever since the 1940s, Elmira Town Councils as well as Woolwich Councils stood with Uniroyal, never with the long suffering citizens. APT members needed to step up and tell their reps not to support Pat’s initiative. Instead Susan Bryant and Sylvia Berg were all in favour. The timing was very strange with Uniroyal having already stormed out of UPAC. Pat McLean kept incorrectly stating that UPAC had to change in order to bring Uniroyal back to the table and I responded that UPAC had already changed for the better and that’s why Uniroyal left in the first place. This was the same Pat who had previously been quoted in the local papers as acknowledging that it was UPAC’s more aggressive stance pushing Uniroyal versus constantly supporting them that led to their departure.
Certainly the irony was not lost on me after the October 2010 municipal election. The new council did exactly what I had warned UPAC about ten years earlier. They decided quietly to give the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) members the heave ho. The new mayor,Todd Cowan (Todd), had talked to outside experts (and me) and understood that the Chemtura/CRA way of doing things wasn’t working to clean up by 2028. Pat, Susan Bryant and the gang were gone. Sure they did their thing and pretended to withdraw their Applications over disagreement with new Terms of Reference but it was all for show. They already knew that none of them were coming back. I actually had asked Todd to retain two or three of the old CPAC members but he chose not to. At least from this point forward, especially with the public way the 2014 new council got rid of Todd’s CPAC; it is now undeniable that Councils will exercise their power and throw out previously council appointed volunteer citizen committees that they do not like. What a way to run a railroad folks. It’s not the best candidates; it’s the candidates who are friends and buddies with the councillors and even possibly with Chemtura.
Esther Thur of the EH-Team was not meek and mild when she chose to speak at UPAC meetings. Uniroyal personnel on occasion would minimize and downplay various health effects of Uniroyal’s myriad chemicals whether found in the air, soil, or groundwater. Esther Thur would have none of that. She had suffered from cancer, which she felt was directly related to decades of Uniroyal air and water pollution. At a UPAC meeting that summer of 1998, she reacted to a Uniroyal claim of improving conditions thusly: “Lindane is far more dangerous than DDT. It is one of the most dangerous chemicals in the world.” Lindane was an insecticide which among other uses was found in hair shampoos to get rid of lice. It is also considered a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) as it breaks down very slowly in the natural environment.
My Resistance To Becoming a Committee of Council
Dr. Henry Regier, Esther Thur, and I spoke strongly against this plan of Pat McLean’s to put UPAC under Council control. Sylvia Berg and Susan Bryant agreed with Ms. Mclean. The rest of UPAC basically sat and listened. At least so it seemed to Henry, Esther and I. Hindsight once again leads me to believe that UPAC had been long lobbied by Ms. McLean and friends. Maybe that lobbying included subtle long term references to alleged character flaws, behavioural patterns, and or other social inabilities that Esther, Henry, and I reputedly had. Do not forget that Susan Bryant had also solicited the memberships of Ron Ormson, Gerry Heidebuurt, and others. They owed their memberships to Susan Bryant as well as Chair Pat McLean. These newer members also did not have the long-term experience of living and seeing Council’s failures to support citizens over corporate employers and taxpayers.
Here are two letters which I sent to UPAC members in late December 1999 regarding Council jurisdiction of UPAC. In hindsight, knowing the inability to play fair, much less honestly and democratically, I now wonder if UPAC Chair Pat Mclean even sent these to the UPAC members after receiving them from me through the UPAC secretary. This is but one reason even today I do not like to funnel data to RAC or TAG members through the Woolwich secretary. My observations are that she seems far too close and chummy with our mayor whom I believe to be dishonest in some matters.
Sunday December 19, 1999
UNIROYAL PUBLIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE
This is to acknowledge receipt of the UPAC Draft Terms of Reference as well as the accompanying note addressed to myself, dated December 16/99, from Brenda Kempel. This information was received yesterday and although I have read the few pages a number of times, I do not intend to spend an hour or two of my precious and unpaid time away from my family, doing yet more volunteer work, with inadequate notice.
For the purpose of Brenda’s request that I submit my comments to the draft Terms of Reference, in writing, for tomorrow’s UPAC meeting; I out of necessity and brevity, can only emphasize that I am appalled with these Draft Terms. If the purpose is to beg Uniroyal to return to the UPAC table, then you may have succeeded. I will be happy tomorrow at the UPAC meeting to give my concerns, comments and criticisms verbally. Furthermore I would be pleased to submit a written response within a reasonable time frame, perchance as short as a week and a half (Christmas is six days away).
Elmira Environmental Hazards Team
The date on this second letter may let the readers know exactly how strongly I felt about Pat Mclean’s appalling and wrong-headed proposal for UPAC to become a committee of Woolwich Council.
December 25, 1999
ELMIRA ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS TEAM SUBMISSION TO THE UNIROYAL PUBLIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE (UPAC) REGARDING THE U.P.A.C. DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE DISCUSSED December 20, 1999.
Borrowing a phrase from Dr. David Ash of Uniroyal: “U.P.A.C. are masters of their own fate.” On a number of occasions David Ash reminded UPAC that they and they alone made decisions affecting their own process, their own membership, their own technical positions etc.. UPAC are now being given the opportunity to lose this independence. There probably are one or two good reasons for becoming a committee of Woolwich Council. The cost however is that, according to the proposed Terms of Reference, Woolwich Council will also have absolute control over the membership of UPAC. Woolwich Council will also have absolute control over the position of Chairperson. Woolwich Council will become master of the fate of UPAC. As it currently stands UPAC determines who will be members and who will be the Chairperson. This is how it should be and how it should remain.
It is at best only a side argument as to whether or not Woolwich Council have any claim to environmental legitimacy. Clearly a number of speakers at the Dec. 20/99 UPAC meeting including Esther Thur, Henry Regier and myself think not. Esther’s and Henry’s comments regarding Woolwich’s past and present environmental credibility were also captured and published in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record on Dec. 21/99. The salient point is why would an independent advisory body give up their independence to a group of politicians? Does UPAC really believe that if either individual members or the body as a whole were to strongly criticize the Township of Woolwich, for some perceived environmental sins or omissions, that there would be no repercussions from the Council of the day? Councillors are both humans and politicians. There isn’t an organization made up of human beings that doesn’t and hasn’t reacted, to the full breadth of their power and authority, against outside criticism. Let me tell you that the local School Board, municipal councils, regional councils, provincial ministries etc, are chock full of petty, spiteful, vindictive people who react to the most honest criticisms, in the time honoured tradition of shoot the messenger.
SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR INDEPENDENCE THE MOMENT WOOLWICH COUNCIL OR ANYBODY BUT YOURSELVES CONTROLS YOUR MEMBERSHIP, THE CHAIR, AGENDA ETC..
There have been many times in the past when the Media have found the issues presented at UPAC to be a hard sell to their readers, viewers and listeners. Nevertheless as recently as Monday December 20, 1999 the media were represented at UPAC by the Woolwich Observer, Elmira Independent and the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. The presence of the media and hence the interest of the public is absolutely essential in any David versus Goliath battle. Do not ever doubt or forget that Uniroyal Chemical are indeed Goliath and that you are in a battle to clean up not only their property but the groundwater, surface water, air, sediments and soil, off-site; that has been adversely affected by their pollution. I can tell you that the media are often a mixed blessing. If I of all people, with the miserable recent press I’ve received, can still tell you to make your meetings media friendly and always accessible, then you must understand how strongly I believe that only through an informed public, via the media, will you ever receive environmental justice in Elmira.
When I speak of media friendly I am partly referring to what I see as pitfalls with the suggested four sub committees. One meeting per month is probably the saturation point if we want media attendance. One “general” meeting every two months with technical reports being reviewed and questioned elsewhere (ie. sub committee) is probably the kiss of death as far as media interest goes. They aren’t going to be impressed watching the “general” committee accept recommendations and sterile position statements by the sub committees. What the media are interested in are the conflicts, the vigorous debates, the heated opposing positions. What the media also likes to see is direct input from the public. This could be encouraged by more evening meetings. The RAM group (Duke St.) is a prime example. They have even held outdoor evening meetings with excellent attendance. Again in regards to both media and citizens involvement, make it easy for both of them. One meeting per month, consistently advertised in the local papers and at least every second meeting (or more) in the evening would be of assistance. A watered down UPAC meeting every second month (during the day), lacking the hard questioning of Susan, Sylvia, Esther, myself and the UPAC members is the beginning of the end. What will there be to question or debate? The meat and potatoes is being contracted out leaving UPAC nothing to debate.
Change for the sake of change is frivolous. Who says UPAC has a problem? Uniroyal Chemical says so. Does the tail wag the dog? Is UPAC in existence to serve Uniroyal’s needs or to serve the public? I say that the very best evidence that UPAC is succeeding occurred when Uniroyal picked up their marbles and went home. UPAC are no longer Uniroyal’s cheerleading department. You do not require Uniroyal for your credibility. What would assist you far more than Uniroyal’s return, would be the return of the citizen activists who have never given up, given in, or allowed themselves to be bafflegabbed and bullfrittered by Uniroyal’s hired guns. Let Uniroyal and Conestoga Rovers come back whenever they want, but on your terms not theirs. You do not have to reform yourselves because David Ash says you are dysfunctional. Uniroyal Chemical are dysfunctional. They are losing support in the eyes of the community and the world the longer they hide from the current, functional UPAC. APTE and the Environmental Hazards Team have held the faith through thick and thin, literally for years. Speaking on behalf of the EH-Team I can tell you that it is wonderful and fantastic to see so many other informed people at UPAC carrying the ball and demanding proper accountability and proper cleanup by Uniroyal. Uniroyal and David Ash obviously have seen the same things I’ve seen and that’s why they’re gone. An independent, informed, honest and scrupulously public UPAC would be in the best interests of a sincere company looking to restore public confidence in their environmental integrity. Uniroyal Chemical instead choose to abandon public consultation when they no longer are in control of it.
WHAT IS FUELING THIS URGENT REQUIREMENT TO REFORM THAT WHICH IS WORKING?
Do I think the absence of Uniroyal Chemical and their consultants are a loss to UPAC? Do I think that they have blessed UPAC with their wisdom, expertise and professionalism? They are no more than the “professional” scientists, psychiatrists and doctors who for money give their expert testimony in court on behalf of their client. They are technical advocates on behalf of Uniroyal Chemical. At least when a lawyer speaks on behalf his client, everyone including the judge understands that the lawyer will lie in order to benefit his client. The trick is either not getting caught or in having a backup, face saving out, if caught.
Uniroyal’s consultants have been caught on occasion over the years pulling fast ones. Whether it is Brian Beatty and the Stan Feenstra 1% vs. 10% out of context DNAPL (dense non-aqueous phase liquid) quotes, or more recently CRA using an outdated air dispersion model to minimize Uniroyal’s toxic air emissions; the effects are the same. Again the Region of Waterloo several years back, caught CRA taking soil samples at inappropriate depths and locations. CRA had earlier been claiming that there were no DNAPLS in that area and these negative samples were to prove their point.
Does UPAC need to reform themselves for the benefit of CRA or Uniroyal? I don’t think so. Only make changes if you are absolutely certain that the changes will assist you in fully cleaning up the toxic legacy inflicted on us by Uniroyal Chemical.
Elmira Environmental Hazards Team
So, was this game like almost every other one played in this environmental arena, rigged? Did Pat McLean ensure that my two letters were never received by the CPAC members? Was the later dismissal of Brenda Kempel, secretary, orchestrated by Chair Pat Mclean because Pat could not trust her to do as ordered? Brenda actually was a Region of Waterloo employee and this was a part-time job for her. I do know that Brenda was not happy about being let go from this job. I also know that her replacement was not as good at the job as Brenda was; however, genetically speaking, she may have been superior as she was related to a former Woolwich Councillor. She was a loyal Woolwich Township employee until her retirement, and, in her exit interview complained vociferously to Mayor Todd Cowan about CPAC’s hardnosed attitude towards Chemtura. Odd that she was so pro Uniroyal (Chemtura). Was she reflecting the attitudes of the various Woolwich Council members over the previous decades?
To reiterate, Henry, Esther, and I all were publicly on the record as being against UPAC becoming a committee of Council. Pat McLean, Susan Bryant, and Sylvia Berg were all in favour of joining. The more politically involved and experienced manipulators of the both naïve and uninformed had this all wrapped up in a bow before the rest of us even knew that the matter was going to be raised at UPAC. This was how Pat McLean operated on Council as well. She and Bill Strauss lined up their support on Council first and then later sprung an issue on those they felt would have legitimate objections. Pat McLean pulled the very same garbage on CPAC in the fall of 2007 when she convened a blatantly improper CPAC meeting without even advising me, a voting member, that there was a meeting.
In the December 31, 1999 Elmira Independent, Esther Thur and I are both quoted as being against making UPAC a committee of Council. Sylvia spoke in favour. Esther stated “Previous Council’s involvement did not help."70 In the Woolwich Observer, I stated “Council’s history regarding Uniroyal does not inspire confidence.” Most prophetically I also stated, “The chances of previous councils even allowing me to be a member of UPAC are somewhere between zero and nil.” Then I stated, “I am not interested in being a part of any group that requires Woolwich Council’s approval."71 Man, I wish I had stuck to that! For reasons I explain soon, I did not. In the same edition of the Woolwich Observer, Esther stated, “They [Council] have passed the buck to the MOE.” She further added, “Back in the 1940s and 50s Uniroyal had three people on council and the pollution was the worst it ever was."72 Dr. Regier was also quoted as supporting UPAC remaining independent from Woolwich Council.
In the January 15, 2000 edition of the Woolwich Observer, Observer staff made in my opinion a telling statement, namely, “The stay and appeal hearings give Woolwich Township Council an opportunity to reverse its dismal track record when it comes to Uniroyal. Council has been decidedly ineffective when dealing with the company."73 In the earlier days of the Woolwich Observer’s presence in Woolwich Township, they were fearless in criticizing both local politicians and local polluters. Unfortunately, that changed dramatically shortly after in regards to criticizing Uniroyal Chemical. While there may have been some backing off in criticizing Woolwich Council after one half of the ownership of the Observer was elected to Council in October 2014, the turnaround was much less obvious and sudden. The turnaround has not been in the public’s interest.
In hindsight, it is now so obvious. Uniroyal wanted back on UPAC but only in a face saving manner. Woolwich Council, the Ontario MOE, and the CCPA all wanted them back. After all, the whole point of UPAC, for them, was to give the appearance of everything being on the up and up. My experience confirms it never was and this is both the irony of UPAC and the shame of those individuals espousing democratic processes while simultaneously doing their best to undermine them. Lying and deceiving to get one’s way is their modus operandi. The hardnosed and honest UPAC members, such as Dr. Henry Regier as well as Esther Thur and me of the EH-Team, were kept in the dark while private negotiations were underway. A deal was made and then Pat McLean and supporters privately lobbied UPAC members whom Susan Bryant had solicited to join. These included neighbours and friends whom Ms. Bryant had convinced to support her and Pat McLean.
This event was the biggest direct sell out of citizens by any council member until Sandy Shantz’s and Mark Bauman’s efforts in 2015. Funny how chummy Pat, Susan, Sandy, and Mark still are today. This sellout and its ramifications even exceeded the DNAPL sellout by APT and the MOE followed by the Upper Aquifer Containment and Treatment System (UACTS) sellout by Uniroyal and the MOE. What a conglomeration of snakes and it was only the beginning. Was the real driving force Uniroyal Chemical or was it the MOE? Was it the unholy decades long alliance between Uniroyal and Woolwich Council? I am just beginning to understand the depths of manipulation and backstabbing that went on with our past Woolwich Councils. While dishonest people may have a penchant for politics, there are some honest folks there along the way. I really wish that more of them would step forward. I know of a couple of councillors who learned about behind the scenes meetings and discussions going on with their fellow councillors from which they were excluded. This corrupt practice is pervasive but seems unenforceable to correct. Is it any surprise that Pat McLean pulled this same crap on me in the fall of 2007? Is it any surprise that both Pat McLean and Susan Bryant were receiving benefits either directly or indirectly via Uniroyal Chemical while they were ostensibly citizen representatives trying to keep Uniroyal and the MOE accountable? This behaviour of Pat McLean and Susan Bryant along with the details was documented, signed, and dated by the 2011-2015 appointed CPAC members, as well as by two of the SWAT Team members (CPAC sub-committee) and presented to Woolwich Council in the spring of 2017. Woolwich Council did what they do best, which was to ignore it.
Woolwich Council made it official later that January of 2000. The Elmira Independent reported on January 23, 2000 that Woolwich Council voted five to two in favour of accepting UPAC as a committee of Council. I wish I knew now which two councillors voted against the motion. At this time, Uniroyal representatives were still playing hard to get in public. At no point did they let the cat out of the bag that they and friends were behind this devastation of public consultation. Clearly, the only reason that they and the MOE had agreed to go along with this committee in the first place was because their credibility was so deep in the toilet. Even then Uniroyal dragged its feet and allegedly attempted to insist that all UPAC meetings be held in private.
The Record also reported on January 27, 2000 regarding Woolwich Council’s five to two acceptance of CPAC as a committee of council. They stated “…following a heated debate Tuesday night, Woolwich Councillors voted 5-2 to make the UPAC committee a committee of Council.” Councillor McLean of course claimed that “…maintaining the committee in its current form is not an option.” That was a bald faced lie and I only wish I had said it louder and clearer at the time. Unfortunately, I still had confidence and trust in Susan Bryant and did she ever milk that. I had seen the damage done to APT with the loss of Esther Thur, Richard Clausi and I in January 1994 and, as a result, I had worked very hard since to ensure that there was zero conflict between the two grassroots groups in Elmira representing citizens and holding Uniroyal and the MOE accountable. The last thing I wanted was another split between APT and the EH-Team. I had worked and was working with Susan Bryant in a collegial and mutually respectful fashion. Or at least I thought it was.
Interestingly a month and a half after UPAC became a committee of council, David Ash stated in the Woolwich Observer that “the company has no intention of ever attending another meeting of the Uniroyal Public Advisory Committee."74 This is one more reason why polluters and politicians lie. People, including me, usually believe them. I believed at that time that Uniroyal representatives, who had by this time been gone from UPAC for thirteen months, meant what they said. They didn’t. It was all part of the scam.
Yes the big stench had resulted in much time, work, expense and effort but improved results were hopefully on the horizon. Of course in an honest society or a real democracy, it wouldn’t take years to get results. Offenders would be forced by our governments to shut down their operations until they could prove that they could operate safely.
It was a disaster putting CPAC under the control of Woolwich Council. That lesson has since been pounded home to all, including Pat and Susan when their turn came to get bounced off of CPAC.
The early 2000s were not a good time for citizens in regards to Uniroyal and their next reincarnation as Crompton Inc. There were far too many spills and far too much gamesmanship ongoing at UPAC including “Optimization”. That program was but one more self-serving scam played upon the community by Uniroyal Chemical.
ENDNOTES for Chapter 5
51 Gail Gardiner, “Changes at UPAC are long overdue”, Elmira Independent, August 31, 1998
52 David Gambrill, “Residents Raise Stink About Uniroyal”, Woolwich Observer, August 28, 1996
53 Doug Coxson, “Duke St. residents demand solution to odour problem”, Elmira Independent,
August 31, 1998
54 David Gambrill, “Something in the air”, Woolwich Observer, September 5, 1998
55 Gail Gardiner, “Residents are finding their voice”, Elmira Independent, September 14, 1998
56 Geoffrey Downey, “Results of air-quality testing at Uniroyal to be released soon”, Kitchener-
Waterloo Record, January 20, 1999
57 Letter to the Editor, “Sowing suspicion and distrust”, Elmira Independent, January 22, 1999
58 Gail Gardiner, “Region to take action on Uniroyal odour problems”, Elmira Independent, February 5,
59 Bob Burtt, “Uniroyal vows to reach out to public”, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, February 18, 1999
60 Gail Gardiner, “UPAC will continue despite withdrawal of Uniroyal Chemical’s support”, Elmira
Independent, February 19, 1999
61 Letter to the Editor, “Uniroyal leaving UPAC is not surprising”, Elmira Independent, March 5, 1999
62 Letter To The Editor, “Denying the reality of pollution solves nothing”, Elmira Independent,
March 19, 1999
63 Gail Gardiner, “Region falls short of promising health study for Elmira residents”, Elmira
Independent, March 26, 1999
64 Bob Burtt, “Hopes for cleaner air deflated”, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, April 1, 1999
65 Bob Trotter, “Uniroyal sings the same old songs”, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, April 20, 1999
66 Gail Gardiner, “Open-door-and-window policy contributing to odour complaints”, Elmira
Independent, May 21, 1999
67 Gail Gardiner, “Job will continue to year end”, Elmira Independent, June 25, 1999
68 Doug Coxson, “New thermal-oxidation unit set up at Uniroyal Chemical”, Elmira Independent,
July 9, 1999, p.8.
69 Gail Martin, “Duke-Street resident threatens to stop paying taxes because of odour problems”,
Elmira Independent, September 24, 1999
70 Julie Sawyer, “Plans to make UPAC part of council face opposition”, Elmira Independent, December
71 Patrick Moore, “Don’t make UPAC part of Council: environment groups”, Woolwich Observer,
December 26, 1999
73 Editorial, “Taking the initiative”, Woolwich Observer, January 15, 2000
74 Richard Vivian, “APT faces off against Uniroyal”, Woolwich Observer, March 2000