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, October 2, 2019
ELMIRA WATER WOES: THE TRIUMPH OF CORRUPTION, DECEIT, AND CITIZEN BETRAYAL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
114 ....The New CPAC Revolution
116 ....Issues Are Often Buried But Never Die
THE NEW CPAC REVOLUTION
The new Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) held its first public meeting in June 2011. Chemtura staff and the Ministry of Environment (MOE), West Central Region officials were there with their usual attitudes and puffery. My previously submitted agenda was ignored. Mayor Todd Cowan sat as the chair and actually did a pretty good job. The new CPAC members included Dr. Dan Holt (Dr. Dan), Dr. Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach (Sebastian), Vivienne Delaney (Viv), Ron Campbell (Ron), David Marks, and Mayor Todd Cowan (Todd). I was there in the gallery as was Richard Clausi. Henry Regier joined us as well on a fairly regular basis despite his hearing difficulties.
As I mention in the previous chapter CPAC members had been through difficult times and still were with Todd as Chair. Overall Todd tried hard, and like Pat McLean he actually ran a reasonably good meeting. There was an eye-opening incident for both me and the CPAC members in June 2011. Dr. Dan had been trying to build some bridges with the old CPAC. Dr. Dan had already met Pat and Susan and had invited them to attend CPAC meetings and as such contribute their ideas and comments either as delegations to CPAC or as part of “Public Forum” just prior to the end of the meeting. This “Public Forum” had originally been suggested by Sandy Shantz after I got the boot from CPAC by council in 2008 and was supposed to be a compromise of sorts. Until then citizens had been able to speak and ask questions during the meeting after being recognized by the Chair. This Susan Bryant and I did from 1994 until about January 2000 when we rejoined UPAC. Pat and Susan thanked Dr. Dan and then invited him and a couple of CPAC members to attend an APT meeting at the Elmira Public Library. Dr. Dan, Vivienne and Sebastian accepted. It would later prove to be a setup.
Dr. Dan and Vivienne were there on time for the start of the meeting. Sebastian showed up late after both the fireworks and the APT and former CPAC folks had departed. I’ve heard the story from three different people who were there from the start of the meeting namely Ken Driedger, Dr. Dan and Vivienne. The guilty and essentially nastiest parties were Susan Bryant, Pat McLean and Sandra Bair. Ken Driedger was there and has advised that he had no idea as to what was coming. He also did not participate in the attempted bullying and intimidation. The three ladies vented their anger and hostility towards the new Woolwich Council appointees to CPAC.
I have a small confession to make. Despite the discomfort and unpleasantness that Dr. Dan and Vivienne experienced that was inflicted by Pat, Susan, and Sandra, I truly believe that Pat and Susan in their overwhelming arrogance, sense of entitlement, and just plain nasty, backdoor attacks actually helped me, the new CPAC, and the environment by showing their true colours. Much of their behaviour they had gotten away with for decades. They truly felt that they had some sort of lock on not only representing the citizens of Elmira but on CPAC, its membership, and its mandate. It seemed as if they felt that they had made substantial personal inroads into the political establishment on council as well as huge inroads with Chemtura Canada. They simply could not fathom that their decades of manipulation, lobbying, and dealmaking with Uniroyal/Chemtura and Woolwich Township and Council could be literally thrown away simply at the whim of the electorate. The citizens of Woolwich Township wanted change on their council especially after the BLE -25 fugitive emissions and with the unfortunate exception of Mark Bauman representing Ward Two (St. Jacobs and the west side of Elmira), they got it in spades. Al Poffenroth, Julie-Ann Herteis, Todd Cowan as mayor, Bonnie Bryant were all newly elected and, as citizens saw, a new broom sweeps clean. The irony was beyond delicious as far as I was concerned. Pat, with Susan Bryant’s support, had dragged UPAC members into being a committee of council. That was a horrendous mistake and I wonder if the likes of Ron Ormson and Gerry Heidebuurt now acknowledged it at least to themselves. Certainly Pat McLean and Susan Bryant didn’t as evident by the way they criticized, insulted, and harangued Dr. Dan and Vivienne. They demanded to know their environmental credentials, their proven past environmental commitments, and their historical knowledge of the Elmira Water Crisis. Of course this behaviour was all based upon getting Dr. Dan and Vivienne to that meeting under false pretenses. This was typical Pat and Susan Bryant, behind- the scenes- behaviour. Obviously, they were still in the early stages of grief as to having lost their exalted positions on CPAC. They were reduced to being second string players. So sad. So pathetic that that was how they felt.
Dr. Dan and Vivienne were taken by surprise by Pat and Susan Bryant’s behaviour. They advised the rest of the new CPAC as well as Sebastian, who wondered why the meeting was over and done so quickly, that he didn’t get to see or hear the goings on. This is an example of the class and inherent decency of all the CPAC members in that a couple of years later when Pat and Susan decided that they needed to at least attend a few CPAC meetings in order to lie about the new CPAC members later on; Dr. Dan as chair and the rest of CPAC members welcomed Pat and Susan and treated them both courteously. At no point was Susan Bryant or Pat McLean treated disrespectfully by CPAC members whereas Pat and Susan Bryant felt the need yet again in April 2015 to lie and dissemble and basically carry on like a pair of pre teen juveniles. Their April 2015 nasty behaviour is described in detail in a later chapter.
CPAC wasted no time in getting to the heart of various, long-simmering issues. DNAPL presence had been covered up for far too long. A failure to do either off-site source removal or adequate pumping was clearly jeopardizing the 2028 deadline to restore Elmira groundwater to drinking water standards as ordered in the 2000 Amended Control Order. The off-site source removal included contamination from other companies such as Varnicolor Chemical and possibly Borg Textiles among others as stated in Chapters One and Two. Other potential sources in the south end of Elmira such as Sanyo Canada and the former McKee Harvestor, all needed shallow soil and groundwater investigations to determine if they have contributed to contamination of the south wellfield.
On December 1, 2011, Jane Glassco, manager of the West Central Region of the MOE, promised CPAC members that she would provide detailed information on the Varnicolor site cleanup. While she did provide some generalities regarding the site, CPAC members received nothing substantive from her, such as technical reports, etc. She could not explain the twenty year delay in adding deep wells.131
Meanwhile, the November 3, 2011 edition of the Elmira Independent reported that Dr. Gail Krantzberg, a professor at McMaster University had been hired to look at whether or not the 2028 cleanup deadline for the Elmira aquifers was on track or not.132 Dr. Henry Regier had recommended Dr. Krantzberg because he was familiar with her work including the sediment cleanup work that had been done at the shipyards in Collingwood, Ontario. [Dr. Krantzberg had worked with the International Joint Commission (IJC) in regards to both the Hamilton Harbour and the Collingwood Harbour Areas of Concern. These were but two Canadian areas that the U.S. and Canadian governments had designated through the IJC as areas of concern requiring serious cleanup efforts.]
In May 2012, Dr. Krantzberg reported back to CPAC. She had studied various Conestoga Rovers (CRA) and MOE documents regarding everything from total volume of contamination released on–site to the current concentrations of NDMA and chlorobenzene in the Elmira drinking water aquifers. Dr. Krantzberg had also studied CRA’s projected quantities of these contaminants removed each year from the aquifers via the Off-Site Containment & Treatment System. The most obvious roadblock to achieving drinking water standards by 2028 was the extremely low drinking water standard for NDMA, namely nine parts per trillion (ppt) or .009 parts per billion (ppb). Based on the relatively high readings of NDMA still in the aquifers and the declining quantities of NDMA removed each year as the concentrations slowly dropped, it became more difficult every year to remove NDMA in the same quantities without massive increases in pumping volumes that never happened even when promised. David Marks, a 2011 to 2015 CPAC member and practicing hydrogeologist with Burnside Associates in Guelph, was in complete agreement with Dr. Krantzberg and her conclusions regarding the projected 2028 cleanup deadline.
Dr. Krantzberg in her presentation to CPAC not only advised that the 2028 cleanup was extremely unlikely but she also clarified other matters regarding the on-site disposal of contaminants. She made it clear that the on-site disposal of contaminants whether directly into the Creek or indirectly through the soil and into groundwater, both shallow and deep, was not a remotely viable solution to toxic waste production. A truly impervious and contained vessel or building was one possibility but in-ground pits and ponds were essentially useless. Even so-called lined waste pits or ponds simply delayed the inevitable migration of contaminants because buried toxic chemicals would migrate into the natural environment eventually, whether travelling through clay or geo- textile liners.
In the late fall or very early winter of 2011, CPAC decided that they both wanted and needed Richard Clausi, Henry Regier, and myself to be more formally and closely involved with CPAC. The three of us were offered the opportunity to be members of a sub-committee of CPAC known as the Soil, Water, Air and Technical (SWAT) sub-committee. As we know, CPAC had been a creature of Woolwich Council since 2000.That said, CPAC members decided that they could form a sub-committee of technical people to help them with various technical as well as historical issues without requiring Council approval. Keep in mind they had folks such as David Marks and Ron Campbell on CPAC who were highly qualified. In 2012 they added a certified chemist and highly experienced environmental and health and safety consultant by the name of Graham Chevreau. Decades earlier he had worked for CRA and was known professionally by Ron Campbell.
CPAC and SWAT all enjoyed the SWAT name immensely although we later found out that Chemtura management was extremely unhappy with it. Apparently, the name SWAT brought forth visions of a highly mobile raiding party descending upon their universe, which they didn’t care for. Ahh a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
Issues Are Often Buried But Never Die
The Hawkridge Homes controversy that arose in 2009 and continued in 2010 was back before Woolwich Council in 2011 and the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in 2012. Both Chemtura and Sulco (Canada Colours and Chemicals) were adamantly against any residential subdivision being built across Union Street from their factories and for very good reasons. While Sulco, over the years, appeared to get a handle on their occasional fugitive emissions, to this time in 2011 Chemtura had not. That, combined with the mandated “Worst Case Scenario” CRA study and presentation both to CPAC and Woolwich Council in 2009, made the dangers very clear. Interestingly, there had been provincial political attempts made years to decades earlier to avoid these kinds of problems. The province of Ontario had requested municipalities to zone in such a way as to leave significant buffer zones around chemical factories and facilities using toxic chemicals in their processes. It was just plain common sense and good planning principles to keep residential housing away from obviously dangerous and conflicting land usages. Really, what could be more conflicting than building residential housing in the “Kill zones” of a chemical company’s “Worst Case Scenario”?
Woolwich staff was equally opposed to residential development in this former apple orchard owned for a long time by Waterloo Regional Chairman Ken Seiling’s mother-in-law. As stated earlier it was unfortunate that somehow directives or suggestions from the province to local councils advising them to rezone areas beside chemical companies to industrial or commercial had fallen on deaf ears.
Somewhat to my surprise, Ms. Mclean and Ms. Bryant teamed up with Chemtura in opposition to this proposed subdivision. Now make no mistake here. While the joining of forces surprised both myself and the rest of the CPAC and SWAT members and citizens, we were overall in full agreement with all parties that building residential homes in this former apple orchard was beyond ridiculous. It was a disaster waiting to happen. Therefore, when the developers didn’t take the hint from both local opposition as well as Woolwich planning staff and booked a date with the OMB we were again surprised.
The OMB Hearing took place in January and February 2012. Woolwich Township planning staff took the lead in opposition with Chemtura, Sulco, Pat Mclean, and Susan Bryant in support. Woolwich staff took the shotgun approach and not only identified the potential severity in the case of a full scale anhydrous ammonia leak from Chemtura, (its worst case scenario), but also spoke to issues of odours and noise. The developers, of course, and as usual, had all kinds of proposals to mitigate any issues that might arise. While these proposals included berms and fences to block industrial views and noise, they oddly enough did not include supplying emergency breathing equipment or training in its use. Chemtura and Sulco dropped out of the hearing early and right after so did Ms. Bryant and Ms. McLean.
The Ontario OMB has a well- deserved reputation, developed over the decades for siding with developers, whether development of housing or gravel pits. Considerable across-the- province criticism of the OMB mounted when the incumbent Liberals, the provincial governing party in 2012 was on the hunt for ways to polish its image prior to the upcoming 2014 election. Perhaps by letting the OMB know that they really needed to give a little more leeway to either local citizens or local municipal councils, it might be helpful to Liberal re-election chances.
Sure enough Woolwich Township achieved its objectives to the suburb development and Hawk Ridge Homes was sent back to the drawing board. However, the win wasn’t based upon the worst case scenario or the spectre of a nasty, suffocating death. Not at all. The decision was based on middle-of- the- night noise that could be expected from trains shunting on either the Chemtura or Sulco property. Apparently, a quick death was less of an issue to the OMB than was a slow death by sleep deprivation. Or at least that is my opinion in regards to the OMB’s decision.
In March 2012 an issue was resurrected from 1991. Ron Campbell of the 2011 to 2015 CPAC did his homework and in reading through a long list of MOE West Central control orders and amendments for Uniroyal discovered some particularly intriguing information. I must give credit to Mayor Todd Cowan for initially providing these documents to CPAC members. The private October 7, 1991 Settlement Agreement between the MOE and Uniroyal Chemical provided some thought provoking reading. Essentially it contained an Indemnity for Uniroyal for all known contamination on its site on the condition that the company abided by an upcoming control order requiring full hydraulic containment in all aquifers, excavation or full remediation of east side waste pits RPE 4 and 5, and DNAPL removal as a contaminant source. If they accomplished all this remediation then Uniroyal management could not be prosecuted or ordered in future control orders to clean up additional source areas. Unsurprisingly, this October 7, 1991 Settlement Agreement was not distributed to the media or the public. Instead, a media release from the MOE was provided that extolled the ordered remediation while astutely avoiding any talk of Indemnities.
CPAC members fairly quickly understood that this Settlement Agreement was a true blue sweetheart deal. This Settlement Agreement prevented what might have been another messy Environmental Appeal Board Hearing. The MOE had presented its case and, after the summer recess, it was Uniroyal’s turn to present its case. Uniroyal management made it clear that in actions regarding its waste disposal from 1945 to 1970 that the MOE shared responsibility. This belated information had never been exposed to the light of day and it explained for most CPAC members in 2012 the MOE’s reasons for coming to a deal rather than being publicly exposed both for what they had done and for what they had not done regarding the gross contamination both on and off the Uniroyal site.
At the start of this chapter we discussed Dr. Gail Krantzberg’s research and studies pertaining to Chemtura and their consultants achieving drinking water standards in Elmira’s groundwater by 2028 and her conclusions that it wasn’t going to happen. The new Woolwich Council were presented with her written report as was the MOE and Chemtura. To my mind this council, other than Mark Bauman, consisted of new blood and fresh attitudes, unshackled by either past commitments or biases favouring the world class polluters in Elmira, Ontario. In early May 2012 both the Elmira Independent and the Woolwich Observer reported on council’s public support of both the CPAC committee and the report of Dr. Gail Krantzberg.133 134 CPAC members had passed a resolution advising that in accordance with Dr. Krantzberg’s report, source removal and/or other remediation methods in conjunction with hydraulic containment (i.e. pump & treat) were necessary for the Elmira aquifers to be properly remediated by 2028. Apparently, receiving bad advice, Josef Olejarz, General Manager of Chemtura, was quoted in the Woolwich Observer as pledging to achieve drinking water standards in the Elmira aquifers by 2028. I said that he must be receiving unreliable advice and the evidence proved that as within a year or two Chemtura finally came around to admitting the obvious for those of us such as myself who had been publicly predicting for many years that it wasn’t going to happen. That CPAC members within less than a year after stepping into their role had weighed the evidence, listened carefully to all parties, and had come to this conclusion was shocking for the MOE, Chemtura, CRA, and their fellow travellors. A special thanks goes to, not only CPAC Chair Dr. Dan Holt, but to members Ron Campbell and David Marks for their insights and direction on this issue.
CPAC under Todd Cowan’s brief tenure as chair and Dr. Dan Holt’s tenure established CPAC as credible, informed, and a professional body. Dr. Holt made it clear to all parties that these meetings would be run properly, politely, and respectfully. Yes, on occasion, as a SWAT sub-committee member, I had to be reined in from either excessive language or sarcasm towards more egregiously ridiculous statements and claims by Chemtura and its consultants. On each occasion, I immediately deferred to the direction and orders from Dr. Dan Holt. Dr. Holt also followed directions from Woolwich Council in regards to which parties had priority to be heard at public CPAC meetings: that CPAC members first, Chemtura staff and the MOE second, and SWAT members and the public third. Representatives from Chemtura , CRA, and the MOE West Central Region quickly destroyed their own credibility with the new members who looked upon the meetings and process as essentially starting from scratch. The company and the MOE officials often either refused to answer questions or delayed answering to the next meeting only to have “forgotten” when that meeting came around. Furthermore they often got hostile and aggressive to straightforward questions put to them by CPAC members. Only after much misdirection and constant waffling and wiggling from Chemtura staff and friends present did all CPAC members begin to understand what a rat’s nest CPAC business had become. If the former CPAC membership had somehow accommodated Chemtura’s behaviour then it was by being exactly that: accommodating. Chemtura management and staff and their corporate predecessors did not and had never responded positively to politeness, courtesy, or respect. It was their way or the highway as they had demonstrated routinely through the decades.
Chapter Fourteen expands the CPAC efforts from 2011 to September 2015. Events of September 2015 make no sense but can be attributed once more to the nasty work of Mark Bauman and Sandy Shantz. Many more revelations are identified regarding politics, politicking, deception, and public and private manipulation by the guilty parties in Elmira.
ENDNOTES for Chapter 13
131 Gail Martin, “Ministry to add monitoring wells on Varnicolor site”, Elmira Independent, December 1, 2011
132 Gail Martin, “CPAC receives additional funding”, Elmira Independent, November 3, 2011
133 Gail Martin, “CPAC seeks review of Chemtura cleanup”, Elmira Independent, May 3, 2012
134 Steve Kannon, “Township backs call for more action on cleanup”, Woolwich Observer, May 5,2012