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.
Monday, October 7, 2019
ELMIRA WATER WOES: THE TRIUMPH OF CORRUPTION, DECEIT, AND CITIZEN BETRAYAL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
163.....RAC and TAG Begin
164.....Conestoga Rovers Eviscerated
165.....MOE Takes a Hit
RAC and TAG Begin
Dr. Richard Jackson as chair of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was a godsend. I consider him a godsend to the public, a godsend to the environment, a godsend to CPAC, and a godsend to honest and courageous citizens everywhere. I had felt that since his departure nearly two years ago (December 31, 2016) that he was simply heads and shoulders technically above everyone else. Now I’m rethinking that. I believe that his education, his research, his experience did put him in a league of his own. I don’t believe that anybody we have met here in Elmira, Ontario was on his level in regards to expertise in contaminant hydrogeology, remediation, engineering or hydrology. But there was something else. Dr. Jackson (Dick) is a mature individual, likely nearing the end of a glorious and long career.
Dr. Jackson was appointed TAG chair in September 2015 by Woolwich Council. It was a paid position contrary to all the past chairs Woolwich citizens have had. I always found him to be pleasant, polite, and respectful. He did not look down his nose at local citizens the way a few of the Conestoga Rovers folks had over the decades. He did not make the arrogant suggestion that only qualified persons (QP) should be invited to technical meetings. That crap was thrown out by Elmira citizens literally decades ago. It wasn’t just QPs who were breathing the air and drinking the water 24/7 -- it was the local citizens.
On the other hand Dr. Jackson clearly could not abide persons with either a personal agenda or a vested interest that would interfere and muddy the waters or pass off as science, self-serving nonsense gussied up as science. Dr. Jackson also clearly was not afraid of any of the local players, corporate, political, or otherwise. He was not infected with what I refer to as the Elmira disease. What is the Elmira disease? It is the serious, highly contagious disease that strikes many “professionals” immediately upon entering either Woolwich Township or certainly Elmira. I have seen some of these so called “professionals” reduced to simpering, stuttering, nervous wrecks afraid of their own shadows. Others, fortunately, while infected, have been able to maintain the façade of not being terrified, intimidated, or concerned for their careers and livelihoods. And yet, they have been deferential, oh so deferential to Uniroyal Chemical and their successors and as well to Uniroyal’s client-driven consultants who it turns out really did not deserve to be deferred to by anyone. My God, but Dr. Jackson was one of the very few people I’ve seen in Elmira who stood up to the various self-appointed emperors and purveyors of expertise and knowledge, looked them in the eye as if to say to their faces, “Excuse me, but you aren’t wearing any clothes.” Figuratively speaking of course.
Informed citizens before him have long known that Uniroyal/ Chemtura gild the lily on an ongoing basis. They have been caught and they have backed down but they have never admitted to deceit, manipulation, or blatant prevarication. Dr. Jackson was having none of it. Facts, ideas, and procedures that had been accepted and proven reliable absolutely were not going to be ignored or thrown out just because either Chemtura, their consultants, or the wholly inadequate West Central Region of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment said so. Any and all parties toTAG or to the Remediation Advisory Committee (RAC) were going to have to back up their “facts,” their opinions, and their recommendations with real evidence and real science. Psudeo science and junk science and all those with vested interests peddling it were in for a very rough ride.
I do my best not to pre-judge and frankly, based on my experience with the two Woolwich councillors, who set up RAC and TAG, it was difficult for me to believe in the fall of 2015 what my ears were hearing. How could a mayor, pretend or otherwise, whose goal was to create harmony and joy among Chemtura and the MOE possibly have hired a chairman for TAG who was the real deal and a whole lot more? It was shocking and indeed both Chemtura and especially the first-hand recipients from the MOE who were on the receiving end of Dr. Jackson’s criticism must have felt that they were trapped in a nightmare. Even prior to his first meeting Dr. Jackson advised that the pump and treat system was not sufficient.158
These following facts have two sources. One is the minutes of RAC and TAG meetings taken by Lisa Schaefer, a Woolwich Township employee. The second source was my attendance at each and every RAC and TAG meeting to date in addition to the detailed notes that I took at each and every meeting. With those notes and my memory I posted summaries on my Elmira Advocate blog the day after the meetings. Those postings have been and still are publicly available. Unfortunately, with the closing of the Elmira Independent on August 1, 2015, not a single RAC or TAG meeting has been covered by the news media since the first meeting held in September 2015. The Woolwich Observer to date (Feb. 2019) have not stepped up and that lack of coverage has proven to be a major blow to the public’s interest.
Conestoga Rovers Eviscerated
On Thursday November 26, 2015, Dr. Jackson dismantled the Chemtura /Uniroyal cleanup of the Elmira aquifers and more. The tutorial from Dr. Jackson concerned both the on-site and the off-site cleanup and was provided to five TAG members, four CPAC/SWAT members and among others in the audience was Eric Hodgins, hydrogeologist for the Region of Waterloo. In his comments Dr. Jackson described the multiple technical failures over the last twenty-five years without mentioning by name, Conestoga Rovers. Much of it was music to my ears as it included criticisms that CPAC and I had stated. Dick described trends whereby groundwater contaminant concentrations decrease in a linear fashion only until the lower contaminant concentrations in the groundwater start drawing out contaminants that have diffused into aquitards or other lower permeability zones. These diffused contaminants will then back diffuse into the groundwater, thus greatly slowing the contaminant concentration decreases due to pumping and treating. This is the huge problem facing Chemtura/MOE/CRA at the present.
Regarding the field testing done by CRA over a year ago for In Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO), Dr. Jackson suggested that the “strategy was good,” but “the tactics poor”. He further stated that the parties responsible “poorly understood” and “poorly controlled” the testing held near pumping well W3. He further stated that it was “unforgiveable” that they did not seek professional help for the field test.159 Ouch!
Dr. Jackson was particularly upset with a sentence in CRA’s report to the effect that Chemtura must wait for new and emerging groundwater remediation technologies to improve its clean-up time. Dr. Jackson suggested that he would be ashamed to write something like that on a report. It simply isn’t accurate. Burn!
Regarding the November 2012 turnaround by Chemtura and its hired help regarding off-site pumping, Dr. Jackson commented on the lengthy time from its proposal then to now in November 2015. He stated that it took “three and a half years to implement after the lights went on."160 This implementation refers only to expanded treatment facilities and a few new pumping wells. In fact, to this date now of February 2019, Lanxess have still not remotely achieved the volume of pumping they and their consultants (CRA) determined was necessary in November. Dr. Jackson also clearly indicated his skepticism and concerns that the 2028 clean-up would happen. He said that Chemtura and the Ministry of the Environment “underestimated” the extent of the contamination held in the aquitards (clay and silt low permeability zones).
Apparently Chemtura representatives had recently suggested that they were prepared to present a new proposal for ISCO testing. This proposal for the upcoming 2016 year is peculiar to me right now in early 2019. Likely, this proposal is a direct effect of the various private so called “technical” meetings which Sandy Shantz has promoted at the expense of public consultation. Dr. Jackson again referred in his November 26, 2015 comments to the last field trial as “not my idea of engineering."161 One more shot at Conestoga Rovers by a qualified, competent professional in this field. More criticism followed, such as references to multi- level sampling (MLS). This method of sampling groundwater has been the norm in North America and Europe for decades but not at the Chemtura site in Elmira. That said, remember that yours truly provided a submission to the former CPAC back in 2009 regarding MLS but my comments had been ignored by the old CPAC and Chemtura and the MOE.
TAG members also presented a number of specific recommendations to RAC members. An important one is that RAC advise Chemtura to “get some help.” In other words, outside independent experts should be required for a number of technical initiatives. Dr. Jackson -- while generally avoiding a head- to-head confrontation with CRA made it abundantly clear that clean-up of the Elmira aquifers and of the Canagagigue Creek would not occur through business as usual. Clearly, business as usual among Chemtura, CRA, and the MOE had failed both the environment and the citizens.
Dr. Jackson was not yet finished on November 26th with comments about the failures of the past. He pointed out failures by Chemtura to have DNAPL samples analysed to determine their constituent components.162 Most of the 2010-2015 CPAC and I had argued with Chemtura and CRA over this. Mark Bauman and Susanna Meteer however had both sided; it now seems incorrectly, with CRA and Chemtura. Dr. Jackson criticized the failure by all the responsible parties for not having monitored the contaminants in suspended sediments in the Creek.163 This failure to examine the contaminants in suspended sediments was to be a common reference throughout Dr. Jackson’s tenure as TAG chair. Indeed, at one point he actually stated that CRA had been removing the suspended sediments from Creek water and then actually testing the wrong component, namely the water rather than the suspended sediments in the water column that contained the hydrophobic compounds such as dioxins/furans and DDT, which were attached to the sediments. Dr. Jackson made it abundantly clear to all present that Woolwich residents and its environment had been ill-served by those in charge of the clean-up to date.
MOE Takes A Hit
Dr. Jackson continued in his November 26th remarks about the issue of warning signs posted at the Creek. Signs are there in 2018 despite the best efforts of the Ontario Ministry of Expanded Corporate Pollution (MECP) not to support the plan. Terri Buhlman of the MOE, who was on the receiving end of Dr. Jackson’s criticisms, was adamant that signage was not needed in the Creek. Despite years of results of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) being found in the Creek sediments, soils, and fish tissues, Ms. Buhlman argued that warning signs not to eat the fish were unnecessary. She further claimed that the criteria exceedances of POPs in and around the Creek were merely generic criteria and that site specific criteria would be more relevant. Be that as it may, was she suggesting that she had the inside track on the future results of these site specific criteria and that therefore warning signs were unnecessary? Credit must go to Mayor Shantz and the Township because they actually paid for and installed signs at three crossroads along the Creek advising fishermen not to consume their catches.
Difficult to believe that there could be any further intense criticism by Dr. Jackson, it seemed, but he was on a roll. In regards to the ISCO failures by Chemtura and CRA, Dr. Jackson used the term “bought off."164 Teri Buhlman jumped on Dr. Jackson’s suggestion that the MOE had been bought off easily by CRA’s report on the inability of ISCO to be used in Elmira. I really don’t think that Dr. Jackson was suggesting corruption but more likely simple incompetence. Some credit may also go to Pat McLean and Susan Bryant as they assured Ms. Buhlman that the MOE’s decade’s long involvement with contamination downstream in the Creek had been inadequate.
Two more criticisms remained. Dr. Jackson felt that injection of treated groundwater into the Elmira aquifers could have sped up the clean-up. Of course, this suggestion had been strongly condemned and rejected by CRA decades previously. Turned out they were wrong according to Dr. Jackson, yet again. What really wound up Dr. Jackson was a recent discovery by CRA of a specific gravel unit at the bottom of the municipal aquifer in parts of Elmira. This unit was coarse, highly permeable gravel at the bottom of the aquifer and hence, it was called a basal unit. This basal unit was a preferential pathway both for groundwater as well as for contaminant migration. The suggestion may have been that CRA should have discovered this pathway decades earlier and then focus on it with the pumping wells.
It is my opinion that Dr. Jackson in one incredible meeting condemned a couple of decades of effort and work done by Conestoga Rovers & Associates on and around the Uniroyal/Chemtura site. He took pains not to throw stones at CRA by name, but for anyone present with any knowledge of the history of remediation, it was obvious. One last gasp by Dr. Jackson was his request for a study to determine the implications of discharging much greater quantities of warmer, treated effluent into the Canagagigue Creek. This was I believe in the expectation that Chemtura’s enhanced treatment system would actually be treating and discharging significantly larger quantities of contaminated groundwater.165 As stated previously those larger pumping rates still haven’t happened by late in 2018. Dr. Jackson possibly did not know but this was another serious concern of the 2011 to August 2015 CPAC after the November 2012 turnaround by Chemtura. How could the Creek actually assimilate the greater quantities of contaminants discharged to them? CPAC and SWAT also were concerned about dewatering of the municipal aquifer and possible ground subsidence in Elmira. None of these issues have ever been discussed or resolved with either CPAC or the public.
Dr. Jackson returned to offer additional comments at the January 14, 2016 public TAG meeting. He advised that the greatest lesson from the 2005 removal of known, contaminated creek bank areas on the south-west quadrant of the Chemtura site was that source removal works.166 The concentrations of dioxins/furans and DDT all significantly decreased over time in clams used in bio-monitoring testing along the Creek. He also indicated that the MOE’s plans to test young of the year (YOY) fish in the Creek likely were not worthwhile. He pointed out that YOY fish won’t have the extra fat required to store DDT and dioxins.167 Of course these probable lower concentrations likely would have been used by the partners in pollution as evidence to minimize the extent of environmental damage in the Creek.
Dr. Jackson commented on the 2015 CRA “East Side Soil and Groundwater Report”. As expected, this report indicates that there is contamination on the neighbouring Stroh property. He also stated at this TAG meeting that one particular monitoring well was highly contaminated with various solvents including chlorinated ones as well as with components of Agent Orange. Whether from those specific results or others, Dr. Jackson also waded into the DNAPL debate. He unequivocally stated that there is long-term DNAPL on site.168 He further stated that he was not aware of any off-site DNAPL so at the end of the meeting I disabused him of that notion. I pointed out both the former Nutrite (Yara) site having multiple high concentrations of DNAPL chemicals as well as the OW 57-32 monitoring well discovery years earlier of probable DNAPLs one hundred feet below ground surface. Keep in mind that neither I, CPAC nor the public were permitted to either offer questions or make comments at TAG meetings courtesy of Sandy Shantz and Woolwich Council.
Regarding the topic once again of the failure of the responsible parties to measure contaminants in suspended sediments versus in the Creek water on its own, Dr. Jackson stated “How it could go on for so long I don’t know.” He also stated “which interpretation is worse 1) the ignorance of the situation or 2) knowing and not acting on it."169 Oh my God! Finally, Dr. Jackson said that the clean-up needs a company that is truly independent of the MOE to peer review it. At later meetings, Dr. Jackson often advised that Hatfield Consultants were an excellent company to do work regarding dioxins as they had an appropriate world renowned reputation in the field.
I think you, the readers, can begin to understand my joy and relief to hear an expert of the calibre of Dr. Jackson condemning decades of misinformation and failures here in Elmira. His position is along the lines of what members of the final CPAC (2011-2015), SWAT and I had been telling Woolwich Council to no avail after 2014. I had also been telling earlier CPAC members as well as earlier Woolwich Councils for decades that the client-driven consultants of Uniroyal and its successors were not remotely working in the public interest.
Comments from Dr. Jackson at the TAG meeting of Thursday February 11, 2016 were more of the same as well as discussion regarding the East Side Surficial Soil & Groundwater Investigation report. Dr. Jackson expressed concern regarding the Ontario MOE West Central Region doing their jobs when he said at this meeting that “presumably exceedances on the eastern border will cause remediation to be ordered.” Based on the timing, I would expect that while Dr. Jackson was referring to exceedances across the border actually on the Stroh property, in fact at this time sampling had only been done on the Chemtura property up to the property line with the Stroh farm. Now in November 2018, shallow excavations have been promised this fall on the Stroh property near to the Chemtura property line. Of course, promises are wind and at the end of November 2018 there have been absolutely zero excavations. Of interest is that there have been no excavations planned on the still contaminated soils on the eastern side of the Chemtura property. This is the old MOE chestnut pretending that a contaminated site doesn’t have to be remediated. It’s okay in Ontario to crap on your own property but not on your neighbour’s. Even when caught red -handed with your on-site contamination having migrated off-site you still don’t need to clean up your own on-site mess. This is despicable and a clear indication of the hypocrisy and double standard of environmental legislation in this province. As I’ve indicated earlier, Dr. Gail Krantzberg believes that anything that ends up in the natural environment on your own property will eventually migrate to the neighbour’s property by various methods. Regarding the likely dioxin/furans to be found on the Stroh property, Dr. Jackson suggests that any found above the 36.6 parts per trillion (ppt) concentration and criteria for Chemtura’s own property should be removed from the Stroh property. A couple of TAG members, Joe Kelly and Linda Dickson, suggested that an even lower criteria such as the generic 13 ppt would be justified. While expressing agreement in principle, Dr. Jackson felt that it would be much more difficult for Chemtura to refuse if they used Chemtura’s own site specific dioxin criteria.
Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach of Tag (and CPAC) observed that the 160 metre distance along the eastern border, known as the “Gap,” was not tested via groundwater, surficial soils, or sub-surface soils. Sebastian felt that the nearby Stroh Drain could pick up contaminants from both the west side of the border (Chemtura site) and the east side (Stroh farm) via groundwater. Dr. Jackson had also indicated that “The Stroh Drain may be pulling groundwater eastwards and directing it southwards."170 These comments are all in line with those made by Peter Gray of MTE Consulting in 2014 in his report to CPAC.
Dr. Jackson in his own inimitable style also indirectly accused the MOE of being less than perfectly above board. He referenced situations in the United States where he had seen instances of the relationships between the polluter and the regulator that appeared to be far too cozy and close. These instances included the polluter required to pay money directly to the regulator. Avoiding a direct accusation nevertheless, Dr. Jackson made it clear that the regulator needed to maintain distance from the alleged polluter, and hence, maintain the credibility of the regulating body.
Already it was clear that TAG members were trying to get up to speed and learn as much as they could about all these issues. These members were Joe Kelly, Linda Dickson, Bill Barr, David Hofbauer with of course Sebastian and then Ms. Bryant and Ms. McLean. While the first three were new to most of these issues, the last three were not. Unlike the sneak assault at the Elmira Library on the new CPAC members in June 2011, CPAC members did not feel threatened by or hold any animosity to these new members appointed by Sandy Shantz. CPAC simply had far too much class to blame third parties for others bad behaviour. Once again there was no sign of either Chemtura or the MOE at this TAG meeting as clearly, to entice them back, Ms. Shantz had made their attendance discretionary.
One final example of the intentional going around in circles that Sandy Shantz had orchestrated occurred when Richard Clausi in the gallery spoke up-- contrary to the rules-- and advised TAG and Dr. Jackson that an on-line international symbol was already in use as a fish advisory/warning sign. Mr. Clausi provided this information when TAG debated what kind of an icon or symbol they could use on signs along the Creek. CPAC member, Ron Campbell, had gone on-line with his cell phone and found it. There were many other instances of issues being debated at TAG that the CPAC members in the gallery if they had been allowed would happily have shared with TAG and saved them time. Mr. Clausi indicated how wasteful of expertise this stilted process was having CPAC members in the gallery, knowing the answers to questions that TAG members were asking, but being muzzled by the procedure refusing them the right to offer the answers.
On Thursday April 14, 2016, TAG was back on the job. Dr. Jackson, once more, made it clear that DNAPLs existed on the Chemtura site.171 Was that so hard for you, Jeff Merriman and other gild-the-lily aficionados to have to admit to? Keep in mind this is twenty-two years after Rich Clausi, Esther Thur and myself all resigned from APT Environment because they refused to hold Uniroyal Chemical and the MOE accountable for their DNAPL coverup and flip flop. I believe that some polluters and friends must have an ever growing list of facts and truths that they simply must never admit. Like a playbook, if you will.
At the April 14, 2016 TAG meeting, Sebastian, Susan Bryant and Dr. Jackson all expressed opposition to the Ontario MOE doing another site specific risk assessment (SSRA) in Elmira and area. David Hofbauer also had concerns based on the higher dioxin criteria previously determined on the Chemtura site of 36.6 ppt. Overwhelming evidence exists of areas of the Creek currently in excess of those criteria. Pat Mclean stated that a discussion with the MOE should occur now for them to justify their rationale for doing another SSRA. It became obvious that much of the work being done was behind the scenes without TAG’s or the public’s input. One way around public input included items like by invitation only Qualified Persons (QP) private meetings being held in various locations such as the Guelph office of the MOE. Public consultation has taken incredible hits over the last couple of years. Despite that Dr. Jackson did suggest that a risk assessment done by Hatfield Consultants would be much more likely to find support than one done by CRA now merged with GHD. In fact, Dr. Jackson went so far as to suggest that he would believe a report done by Hatfield Consultants regarding dioxin/furan risks and he implied not so much anything coming from the MOE.172 My word, but where were our local news media when these expert opinions were being expressed publicly?
Interestingly Pat McLean advised that the MOE had been holding private meetings with downstream Canagagigue Creek residents without the courtesy or respect of advising either Woolwich Council or TAG members. On the one hand, I agree with her in that it is much too easy for the MOE to soften any verbal criticism from landowners and to outright prevaricate regarding feedback they have received from these residents. On the other hand, it is also difficult to feel sorry for Pat McLean, Susan Bryant, and Sandy. All three of them know what Chemtura and the MOE are made of and now they are whining that they aren’t being respectful or nice to you. Keep in mind this is after Sandy and Council gave Chemtura and the MOE everything they wanted with the new RAC and TAG.
Dr. Jackson continued on April 14, 2016 with his straightforward and blunt tactics at this TAG meeting. He suggested that there would be “a confrontation with the MOE in the next few months regarding the downstream Canagagigue Creek."173 I expect that may have happened, albeit privately because I’ve seen no such thing at TAG or RAC meetings. I doubt very much that half of what is going on remediation-wise is reported back to either RAC or TAG by the MOE and Chemtura. Again, so much for honest public consultation.
Of course, many different fronts were underway over the decades as citizens battled Uniroyal/Crompton/Chemtura. Much too late I began to understand exactly how tight all our politicians are and were with Uniroyal and their successors. The gloves certainly came off after the Sandy Shantz and Mark Bauman “manufactured crisis “ that they sold to the rest of Council in early and mid-2015. That is, it was an easier sell for some councillors versus others. Then in August 2015 Woolwich Council really showed their character in attempting to intimidate and browbeat me from presenting a delegation to them simply because I was currently involved in bringing some MEA accountability to Mayor Shantz. In the next chapter, I illustrate how emboldened councillors got their butts publicly handed to them by an outraged citizenry and news media when councillors went too far a second time. Graham Chevreau of CPAC, Vivienne Delaney too and other CPAC and SWAT members stayed involved both in Chemtura issues but also in the Municipal Election Act hearings and later court dates. When appropriate, I sent Dr. Jackson various relevant environmental photos and documents although I usually ignored the TAG protocol for so doing. It was bad enough that the public and I couldn’t ask questions or deliver delegations, but having a specific protocol whereby everything going to Dr. Jackson had to be filtered through the RAC/TAG support person was a little too much. Dr. Holt and I continued with public outreach via presentations and speaking engagements at schools in Kitchener and Waterloo which were interested in water issues. Sebastian, of course, continued on with his presence at TAG and usually asked the sharpest most pertinent questions on the few occasions when Chemtura or the MOE would show up at TAG. Truth be told, I think Terri Buhlman had been offered a smooth ride without myself and the rest of the CPAC and SWAT group allowed to speak. Dr. Jackson certainly spoiled that for her although if she’d simply been more direct and honest she wouldn’t have gotten crowned so often by him.
ENDNOTES for Chapter 20
158 Scott Barber, “Bringing an experienced eye to Elmira’s water woes”, Woolwich Observer,
September 5, 2015
159 Alan Marshall, “Dick Jackson Dismantles Chemtura Cleanup”, www.elmiraadvocate.blogspot.com,November 27, 2015
166 Alan Marshall, “Wednesday Evening’s TAG Meeting”, www.elmiraadvocate.blogspot.com ,
January 15, 2016
170 Alan Marshall, “Last Night’s TAG Meeting Was Illuminating”, www.elmiraadvocate.blogspot.com ,
February 12, 2016
171 Alan Marshall, “Council & TAG Hypocrites Crying Foul-M.O.E. Repeatedly Portrayed As Liars”,www.elmiraadvocate.blogspot.com , April 15, 2016