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.
Friday, October 11, 2019
ELMIRA WATER WOES: THE TRIUMPH OF CORRUPTION, DECEIT, AND CITIZEN BETRAYAL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
201.....Lanxess Continues the East Side Cover Up
203.....New Interceptor Trench Information
Lanxess Continues the East Side Cover Up
Technically, I suppose, I should say that GHD continued the east side cover up that Conestoga Rovers had long been involved with. Uniroyal Chemical and their successors had evaded responsibility for the toxic wastes that had flowed both overland and by sub-surface groundwater onto the east-side neighbour’s property. GHD like other consulting firms likely shares its data, conclusions, and recommendations with their clients long before the information is shared with the MOE now known as the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), never mind the public at large. Therefore, if a consulting firm wants any repeat business from a client they had better be very careful in their choice of wording in their reports as well as in the cost of their recommendations to solve the client’s problems.
GHD’s December 30, 2015 “East Side Surficial Soil and Groundwater Investigation” is discussed in Chapters Nineteen and Twenty. Criticism of the report came from Dr. Richard Jackson, TAG members and CPAC members, including myself. The reported concentrations of dioxins/furans and DDT on the Chemtura property, along the property line with the Stroh farm were incredibly high. These concentrations of dioxins exceeded the soil criteria massively from just south of the cemetery on the east side of the Envirodome and continued for several hundreds of metres southward. Similarly, DDT concentrations also exceeded the soil criteria for several hundred metres north to south on the Chemtura/Stroh border albeit not by as much as the dioxin concentrations. It was odd at first blush but the exceedances appeared to dwindle as testing was done beside RPE-4 and 5. These results are explained because both these pits as well as burial area east (BAE-1), reburied drums (RB-1 and RB-2) had all been excavated decades earlier. Therefore, not only had contaminated soil already been removed but clean fill had been introduced to the area. Like so many of Uniroyal Chemical’s out of the public eye “cleanups” the cleanups were far from perfect as disturbing chemicals and their high concentrations were still present.
Despite obvious errors and flaws in the process and the assumptions made regarding testing for dioxins and DDT at greater depths, the basic conclusions from the December 2015 GHD report were that probably these high concentrations signalled Uniroyal Chemical contamination existed on the Stroh farm. That conclusion was huge and a breakthrough in understanding that the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) members had done their job well and according to their mandate from March 2011 until September 2015 and the start of RAC and TAG. Despite this conclusion, there were problems with test pits excavated by GHD. Three were excavated one metre deep along the property border near RPE-4 as well as beside RPE-5. Then four more pits were excavated further north also along the border between the properties. The problem was that these test pits were used mostly to determine if the soils in the area were fill or native materials. No soil samples were taken in the four test pits to the north and the pits beside RPE 4 and 5 were sampled once only at .35 metres below ground level. Neither DDT nor dioxins exceeded the soil criteria at this relatively shallow depth.
Next came a rather odd GHD report dated July 29, 2016 and titled “Supplemental on-Site Investigation Report.” It included information about nine test pits still on the Chemtura side of the border with the Stroh farm. Two were located at the south end of RPE-5 and the others between there and the Stroh property line in former waste pits BAE-1 and RB-2. For some reason no test pits were included further north slightly and along the border in RB-1. The test pits had a few surprises. According to the test results, PCBs were detected in test pits two and five (TP-2, TP-5). DDT was only detected in a couple of pits at fairly low concentrations. Dioxins simply were not tested for, guaranteeing that they were not detected at a depth which would have damaged GHD’s claim that testing only surficial soils on the Stroh farm for dioxins was needed.
Other than the two test pits located in RPE-5, all the others had either or both soil staining and chemical odours, some with very strong chemical odours. In fact, it states on page ten of the report that the excavation for test pit two (TP-2) was terminated because of high photo ionization detector (P.I.D.) readings of volatile chemicals. Evidence like this and more, in my opinion, makes a mockery of the later shallow excavations only on the Stroh property a few metres away. Furthermore the self-serving and inaccurate observations on page thirteen where it states that there were decreases in concentrations and frequency of chemical detections in the pits to the east, closer to the Stroh property, were pure bunkum because six of the nine test pits were arranged in a north –south configuration along the border. Two other pits with indeed lower concentrations were the two located in the long ago excavated RPE-5 to the west. Finally, some incredibly high concentrations of chemicals in the soil were reported in TP-07. The chemical 2, 4- dichlorophenol was found at 98,000 parts per billion (ppb) three metres below ground as was 2, 4-D (also known as 2, 4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) at 95,000 ppb. Both these high readings were found in the deeper of two samples taken in this test pit, which is an indication of what would be found at depth on the Stroh property as well if they had sampled deeper. It was beyond disgraceful that most of these test pits contaminated contents were not removed at the time. This inaction flies in the face of longstanding claims by Jeff Merriman of Chemtura that contamination was removed when they came across it.
Another GHD report titled, “Off-Site Investigation Report,” was completed on February 14, 2018. Once again only partial public consultation was permitted as input to the work plan for this 2018 investigation because only appointed citizens on TAG were permitted to ask questions and speak at TAG meetings. Even then only two designated TAG members could attend RAC meetings and ask questions of the MECP or Lanxess Canada. Of course, the general public could attend RAC meetings, which occurred three to four times per year only. At those designated times the general public could present a delegation to RAC but they could not ask any questions whatsoever. This structure is what has passed as “public consultation” since the October 2014 Woolwich Council was elected and since.
The work plan for this investigation was similar to the previous ones since 2015. Hence, CPAC members and/or any other citizens were stifled regarding discussions or questions or even offering timely comments. Written comments could be sent to TAG members but zero questions or comments were permitted by non-members at public presentations. RAC was even worse. I did present a couple of delegations to them and there were literally zero questions back to me for clarifications. Frankly, I felt as if some RAC members didn’t have a clue as to what was going on and the ones that did had vested interests and weren’t going to open any cans of worms by asking me any questions.
The February 2018 plan was to again take only surficial soil samples as they had done on the Chemtura side of the boundary between the properties in 2015. Just as there was no justifiable or reasonable rationale explained for so doing in 2015, there was not for the 2017 sampling of the Stroh farm. GHD technicians did sample a little bit further laterally to nine metres or almost thirty feet. They referred to Transect One, Two, and Three with One being one metre and less, Two being one to three metres and Transect Three being three to nine metres in width. While CPAC members, the public, and TAG members were happy to finally see some soil testing being done, it was clear from the start that a depth of zero to fifteen centimetres/ 5.9 inches was ridiculous. Dioxins, DDT, and PCBs have been found at depths measured in both metres and feet on the 25 Erb Street Uniroyal Chemical site, a clear indication that under the conditions of massive solvent contamination these hydrophobic compounds can be carried much deeper into the soil. Despite this, GHD and Lanxess Canada continued the proven false claims that dioxins/furans being hydrophobic and that they bond with soil cannot be transported beneath the top fifteen centimetres/six inches or even thirty centimetres/twelve inches into deeper sub-surface units.
The other significant problem is that GHD and Lanxess like their predecessors have continued to refuse to do any testing in and around the Stroh Drain that runs from beside the Lanxess property line through the Stroh property and the Martin property before finally discharging into the Canagagigue Creek well downstream of the 25 Erb Street Lanxess property. Thus, it is beginning to appear that Lanxess representatives with MOE officials’ support are using the Stroh field beside Lanxess as a red herring. The guilty parties are “cleaning up” the most likely lesser contaminated area with no intent to even honestly investigate what may very well be the largest “sink” of dioxins/furans, DDT, and possibly PCBs and mercury in the province.
In this February 2018 report, GHD continued deceptive practices regarding the long avoided “Gap” area. Bizarrely, instead of finally sampling the low-lying property between Lanxess and the Stroh farm but actually on the Stroh property as they did this time for all the rest of their surficial soil samples all the way north up to the cemetery; GHD/Lanxess went back to their own property to do so. What the heck did they do that for? The answer may be that if they’d sampled the “Gap” area on the Stroh property they would have been within ten metres of the Stroh Drain. That short of a distance would have been a much more difficult sell to convince TAG members and the public that their dioxins/furans and DDT hadn’t flowed into the Drain and the Canagagigue Creek over the decades.
Additionally GHD totally fudged the sampling area for SS-20. Sample area SS-21 is immediately north of SS-20 and its composite soil sample in 2017/2018 was determined to be at 6.97 ppt toxic equivalency (TEQ) with the criteria for soil within thirty metres of a surface water body (i.e. the Stroh Drain) being 7.0 ppt TEQ. The “Gap” area was defined as the area that GHD had refused to sample against all citizen advice from TAG and CPAC in their 2015 report. This “Gap” area was south of SS-09-15, which was close to the northern start of the Stroh Drain, and extended southward almost but not quite to the end of the straight, southward direction of the Stroh Drain before it turned eastward. The whole point of course was that the “Gap” area was the lowest lying land between the two properties and through which overland contaminated waste water from the northern east side pits would have gravity-flowed off the now Lanxess property onto the Stroh farm and then into the area just east of the Stroh Drain.
So what exactly did the professional consultants to Chemtura and Lanxess do? According to their own maps, they continued the SS-20 sampling area into the north-west to south-east diagonal ridge of high ground located in the south-east corner of Lanxess Canada’s property. They, therefore, guaranteed artificially lower concentration numbers for the SS-20 sampling area due to the composite nature of the samples. Intentionally including samples from higher ground that they knew would have little or no overland flow of contaminated wastewaters meant they fudged the results with inappropriate sampling locations. This instance was not the first time over the decades that CRA/GHD was ever accused of this gamesmanship. The Regional Municipality of Waterloo representatives accused them of doing that in the early 1990s with DNAPL sampling. As a result of years identifying manipulated information I know that Uniroyal’s consultants, hired and paid for by them, have presented data to favour their client and too often unreliable and even dishonest reports occurred.
TAG members met on March 15 and 22, 2018 to discuss this report and other matters. RAC met on March 19 and 26 essentially for the same purposes. Once again TAG members recommended that RAC push Lanxess to do better. I made a presentation to the April 26, 2018 RAC meeting and advised RAC members that the Stroh Drain needed to be properly investigated to determine if it was draining dioxins/furans, DDT, and other toxic, industrial chemicals into the Canagagigue Creek. This investigation and subsequent cleanup was needed in order to remove all sources of these persistent organic pollutants to the Creek. As usual, after my delegation to RAC there were zero questions or requests for clarification, etc. In my opinion, it was like talking to a bunch of rocks. There was, however, an interesting response from Councillor Mark Bauman after this meeting. He approached me in the gallery and advised that he would continue to push Lanxess and GHD to test soil in and around the Stroh Drain. I was skeptical that he would do so but five months later at the September 2018 RAC meeting, there was another interesting development which I describe in detail in several more pages.
It is my expectation that the MOE, GHD, and Lanxess are satisfied that they have gone through the motions necessary to sell their perverted versions of the truth to the public. They are due to produce a Site Specific Risk Assessment (SSRA), that is intended to prove scientifically and mathematically that there are no receptors to suffer unacceptable health consequences to the toxic contamination still in the Canagagigue Creek after all these decades. Woolwich Township Council will most likely go with the flow as they have done so readily for most of but not all of the last thirty years.
New Interceptor Trench Information
As far back as 1980 there was discussion about an interceptor trench being constructed on the east side of the Uniroyal Chemical plant in Elmira. A meeting was held that included the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Uniroyal Chemical representatives. The meeting’s discussion was reported in a memo dated May 29, 1980 authored by Wayne Jackman of the West Central Region MOE. Mr. Jackman has been mentioned previously in regards to the 1985 report by Jackman, Ralston, and Tony Smith titled, “A History of Uniroyal Waste Disposal” in 1985. Mr. Jackman was also involved with Varnicolor Chemical and he ended up being hired away from the MOE by Phillips Environmental, the company who purchased the Varnicolor site in Elmira in 1993.
In the late spring of 2018, I contacted Ecojustice based in Toronto, Ontario. I was trying to interest its staff in what I and others view as an environmental travesty and injustice namely the diversion of toxic wastes from the old Uniroyal site in Elmira to their two neighbours, the Strohs and the Martins. Part of this diversion may well have been due to the natural topography of the land whereas a part of it, including the Stroh Drain, certainly was not. To put it simply, Ecojustice personnel were not interested. I do not know if they had any political reasons or others to decline getting involved other than a fairly obvious one that they are an environmental legal aid clinic and simply cannot accept every request for assistance that comes along. While the actual Stroh Drain and the existing topography, to the best of my knowledge, are undisputed to date by both the MOE and Chemtura/Lanxess, the alleged interceptor trench has not been confirmed or agreed to by those parties. (I first mentioned the Interceptor Trench or trenches in Chapter Sixteen.)
In August 2018, new information came to light. This information included the May 1980 meeting memo by Wayne Jackman. It contains a reference to “… the various areas where waste had been deposited, including municipal sites beyond the plant boundaries and plant disposal sites.” This statement in particular reflects an internal MOE admission that any and all of these municipal landfills in and around Elmira do not have leachate controls and could be a problem in the future.
I have an extensive library of reports from every imaginable source possible including a multitude of consulting companies who have been hired over the years by Uniroyal, Crompton, Varnicolor Chemical, the Region of Waterloo, Woolwich Township, the GRCA, the MOE, the OWRC and so on. I also have documents from the two Environmental Appeal Board hearings involving Uniroyal from 1990 until 1992. Additionally there are thirty years plus of monthly Uniroyal/Crompton/Chemtura/Lanxess Progress Reports, a multitude of Annual Monitoring Reports for Uniroyal and their successors, and so much more. I first started reviewing and researching for this book in approximately May 2017. That research has included rereading many of these reports as well as reviewing fourteen photo albums filled with newspaper stories from multiple newspapers in regards to the Uniroyal/Elmira story. Various involved individuals over the years have donated their notes and documents to me including Esther Thur, Rich Clausi, Susan Rupert, Susan Bryant, and even Wilf Ruland. By August 2018, I had a twenty-one page typed chronology completed and had started writing the rough draft of this book.
I shared the new information I found with CPAC members immediately. It has also been shared with Woolwich Councillors, TAG and RAC members, Lanxess and the MOE. I sent copies to Ecojustice who, chose not to assist despite this latest discovery corroborating plans to build this Interceptor Trench. The information shared with these parties included notarized affidavits, letters, and a diagram marked as Exhibit “C,” part of the sworn affidavits. Exhibit “C” was titled “Hydraulic Containment System Schematic Uniroyal Elmira Site Elmira, Ontario.” On the diagram in Exhibit “C” is a man-made in ground construction referred to as a “Horizontal Groundwater Collector.” Exhibit C is dated October 18, 1990. In 1990, I was still collecting and documenting evidence to use in the investigation of environmental practices at Varnicolor Chemical. (A copy of Exhibit “C” is included in this chapter.) These documents were provided to formal parties at the 1991 Environmental Appeal Board hearings and included Nutrite, the Region of Waterloo, Woolwich Township, Uniroyal, the Ontario MOE, and APT Environment. I likely received these documents years later, from Susan Bryant. I believe it is her handwriting at the bottom of Exhibit “C” that notes “no containment of leakage until May 91.” How incredibly strange that throughout the debates and arguments from the inception of UPAC in January 1992 until APT departed UPAC in June 1994 over the proposal of Uniroyal and Conestoga Rovers not to hydraulically contain the east side of the Creek the same as the west side, that absolutely no public mention was ever made about an interceptor trench, horizontal collector, or any other previously proposed or previously built containment system on the east side of the Creek. Public mention of the interceptor trench was never made either at the January 1995 extremely well attended public meeting in which Uniroyal and the MOE were hammered over their plans not to hydraulically contain the east side of the 25 Erb Street property.
There were other peculiarities. A September 29, 1983 letter from Jack Pym, Manager of Manufacturing for Uniroyal, was sent to Grant Mills, Director of the West Central Region of the MOE.
In it, reference was made to a feasibility study for leachate control from the buried pits. Horizontal boring was also mentioned as a possible method of evaluating leachate concentrations and toxicity. Of great interest to me in 2018 is mention of “… the extent of the contaminant plumes east of the buried pits and south of the company property … ”which refers to both the Stroh (east) and the Martin (south) farms. As I write this in January 2019, Lanxess Canada are doing a superficial excavation on the Stroh property. Turns out that all parties knew about these off-site contaminant plumes a mere thirty-five years before any efforts --even superficial ones-- were taken.
It is my considered opinion that the entire cleanup in and around Elmira, Ontario has been predicated on the premise that the longer the guilty parties do nothing, the more the contamination will migrate, be diluted, and/ or possibly be even broken down by natural means. “Containment of significant leachate must be done at source” is an important acknowledgement. The May 29, 1980 Memorandum from Wayne Jackman, this September 29, 1983 letter and the notarized affidavits confirm that Uniroyal and its consultants recognized that either horizontal collectors or interceptor trenches were required and planned for the east side of the Creek to contain the groundwater spread of contamination.
The two notarized affidavits dated October 18, 1990 were presented as exhibits to the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB) in support of a request for a stay of the August 1990 Control Order laid on Uniroyal Chemical Inc. by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Two different consultants to Uniroyal went to great lengths to convince the Board that there was no emergency surrounding the two east side buried pits, also known as the “consolidation pits.” The one notarized affidavit is from Brian Beatty of Morrison-Beatty, Uniroyal’s long- time consultant, who was eventually “consolidated” himself after I exposed his less than perfectly correct DNAPL quotes taken out of context from Mr. Stan Feenstra. The other notarized affidavit is from Mr. Ron Frehner of Conestoga Rovers, whose engineering and consulting company had been making inroads into Uniroyal’s consulting business.
Mr. Beatty emphasized to the Board in his affidavit that Uniroyal was about to take two steps that would remove any immediate threat to either the environment or to the health of any persons. The first step was scheduled to be implemented the very next month (November 1990) which was to install a synthetic cover over the buried pits. The purpose of the synthetic cover was to stop the infiltration of rain into the pit that, due to either clay or an alleged liner on the bottom of the pit, would result in a raising of water levels inside the pit. In turn, contaminated water would overflow into the natural environment once the levels were higher than either the clay or synthetic liner. Frankly, this synthetic cover or cap over the top of the pits was an excellent idea that should have been done decades earlier. The fact that it wasn’t insisted on by the MOE was disgraceful even as late as 1970 when the west side lagoons were emptied and the sludge put into RPE-4 and RPE-5. It is my opinion that both Uniroyal and MOE officials knew full well that the leachate produced from incoming rain would overflow the pits and enter the groundwater regieme just as a bathtub overflows if the tap is open to provide even a slow amount of water while the plug is in the drain. As an aside, I also advise that while these caps were allegedly installed as promised, I am not positive that they actually prevented the infiltration of rainwater because in 1991 I found myself, my bird guidebook, and my binoculars standing directly beside these two pits and the stench of pesticides was powerful. I couldn’t seem to find any birds but I surely found those two buried pits. Whether or not the synthetic cap could keep rainwater from entering the pits while at the same time noxious and toxic fumes exited, is beyond my expertise.
Mr. Beatty’s proposed second step was a little more aggressive. It called for the implementation of a “shallow containment system around the pits in the spring of 1991.” The idea was that a cap over the pits would prevent the production of new leachate while the planned shallow containment system would prevent the migration of old leachate and contaminated groundwater westward and southward towards the Canagagigue Creek. At the same time, Uniroyal had two pumping wells inserted into the municipal aquifer ready to contain contaminated groundwater in the municipal upper aquifer (MU) which, once operating, would reduce further off-site migration of contaminants. These two wells were PW1 in their north-east corner and PW3 in their south-east corner. To my mind it was not a bad plan but it was a perfect example of slamming the gate closed after the horses had bolted. The other problem had to do with the leachate from the buried pits. In the following affidavit only is there a suggestion that this leachate would be collected and treated.
In the following affidavit from Mr. Ron Frehner, Exhibit “C” contained a diagram of the proposed horizontal groundwater collector --or as I refer to it an Interceptor Trench. It also included Exhibit “B,” which was a copy of the feasibility study (FS) submitted to the MOE. This FS had seventeen different remedial options to be investigated and discussed. The chosen option by CRA and Uniroyal was to install the synthetic cap almost immediately, construct the horizontal groundwater collector (interceptor trench) in the spring of 1991, possibly in May and begin pumping the on-site municipal aquifer by the end of 1991. CRA also had selected bioremediation as its preferred method of remediation. CRA accurately suggested that transporting literally hundreds of truckloads of toxic wastes down Highway 401 was a massively dangerous, laborious, and expensive alternative which by reburying the wastes did nothing to destroy or eliminate them. The reburial would have been in the allegedly highly secure landfill in Corunna, Ontario, near Sarnia.
In theory, at least, destroying the toxic wastes made more sense than either directly shipping them out for reburial or even digging them out of the ground and putting them into an on-site storage for eventual remediation or reburial elsewhere. The problem, of course, was that both the MOE and Uniroyal had decades to figure this out but delayed and delayed until the Water Crisis hit in 1989. As a result of the well contamination the citizens of Elmira and downstream were not in a good mood and more delay for pilot tests to demonstrate the efficacy of bioremediation was not well received. Therefore, as described in previous chapters, the MOE ordered Uniroyal to construct an above ground storage facility, the Envirodome, to safely store the hazardous wastes until a final decision about its treatment could be made. This decision was eventually made with a maximum of phony public consultation, conducted by Uniroyal, of course, as well as a maximum waste of time. In the fall of 1999, the trucks started rolling down the 401 carrying the hazardous contents of the Envirodome on their way to the Corunna landfill site.
The September 27, 2018 RAC meeting turned out to be rather interesting. Ramin Ansari, Chemtura and Lanxess hydrogeologist, had impressed me and others with his calm, laid back style combined with what appeared to be a no nonsense, upfront willingness to discuss previously difficult and awkward (for Lanxess) environmental issues. Discuss solely with Woolwich Council appointed citizens, not with the general riffraff known as the unwashed masses or the public. During this meeting, Mr. Ansari suggested that after the meeting was over, he would like to discuss with me, Sebastian Seibel-Achenbach, and TAG members their ongoing concerns regarding interceptor trenches, the Stroh Drain, etc. Sebastian and I were in the gallery and Sebastian immediately opened his laptop to retrieve the CRA report that had the topographical map, “Existing Conditions,” i.e., Drawing C-02. Sebastian was asked by Tiffany Svensson whether he was willing to meet after the meeting with Mr. Ansari and others. Sebastian immediately said yes even though we did not have the appropriate documents with us as this had come out of the blue. Therefore, I very willingly was dispatched home just before the end of the meeting to grab both my large map constructed from Drawing C-02 as well as other relevant reports. Ramin Ansari, Lou Almeida (GHD), Dwight Este, Sebastian, and I had a particularly effective discussion relating to these matters and the satellite photos of the interceptor trenches as well as the drawing of the horizontal groundwater collector that is included on page 486. Sebastian and I are actually scheduled to speak further with Mr. Ansari in regards to the Interceptor Trenches at the February 2019 public TAG meeting.
This chapter focuses on the Stroh farm, the Stroh Drain, and the alleged interceptor trenches on the 25 Erb Street property. If these trenches were constructed --as seems likely-- then the ramifications are huge. The Ontario MOE must be outed as having looked the other way for years to decades while toxic liquid wastes were diverted from the Uniroyal/Chemtura/Lanxess property to the two neighbouring farms owned by the Strohs and the Martins. Even without the interceptor trenches, contaminated, overflowing wastewater has gravity-flowed off the Uniroyal site onto the neighbours’ property. If I had any confidence left in local politicians and authorities I would be in favour of some form of full- scale public inquiry. There have been good ones and there have been bad ones in the past.
In the next chapter I examine the remediation work on the Stroh farm, the mayor’s puffery regarding RAC and TAG, and further upcoming gamesmanship from Lanxess to assure themselves of future *Responsible Care verifications no matter how much trouble they are in for their past history and remediation failures. I briefly mention “Toxic Time Bomb” a Canadian Documentary about Agent Orange being produced in late 2018 by Kelly Saxberg and her partner Dr. Ron Harpelle under the production company Sheba Films. This duo has been making environmental and social justice documentaries for decades. Dr. Regier, Susan Rupert, and I were filmed as a small part of that production.