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.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023



This book is a detailed and specific account from a first hand observer, active participant, citizen, resident, and survivor of over three decades of false promises by all levels of government here in Elmira, Ontario, Canada. The false promises are in regards to the groundwater contamination by Uniroyal Chemical otherwise known as the 1989 Elmira Water Crisis. This book will enthrall you, horrify you, make you laugh, cry and every emotion in between. It should even make you question the very basic premise that democracy is the best form of government. Canadians want to believe that their authorities are inherently honest, truthful and looking out for the public interest. They want to believe that the first mandate of the Ontario Ministry of Environment is to protect the environment. Neither of those two is true.

This book gives names, dates, locations and quotes from both public and private meetings regarding the environmental disaster that unfolded from 1942 until both the present time and into the future. Our authorities refused any and all health studies that could ever have documented the human price of this environmental disaster. The meetings describing the damage to the soil, air, surface and ground water in and around Elmira, Ontario constantly and consistently minimized the extent and duration of the damage as well as the complexity or possible success of remediation. Due to this, when cleanup options were presented, they were according to consultants CH2MHILL “...the cheapest and least effective method ...”.

NDMA was the poster child for the groundwater contamination and, although once described as the most carcinogenic compound known to mankind, it was in fact not even second fiddle to the since banned DDT, lindane, parathion, and dioxins in Agent Orange that Uniroyal Chemical produced for the U.S. Military. Years after, citizens including myself, advised that the mandated 2028 groundwater cleanup was not going to happen, our authorities have now also admitted it despite the previous twenty-five years plus of denial. Of course, that's all O.K. for the company (Uniroyal, bought by Crompton, bought by Chemtura, bought by Lanxess Canada) as the Ministry of Environment are simply rewriting the mandated date to reflect the reality of a second or third class cleanup reliant upon never ending leakage and off-site dilution of toxic wastes. Elmira's drinking water, for the last thirty years and now likely forever, comes from a pipeline to the City of Waterloo. The Elmira Aquifers, at one time, were the envy of residents throughout Waterloo Region. Let me tell you how all of this has occurred, beginning with Chapter One.







Chapter One:


1 .... The Beginning

2 .... Contamination

2 .... Other Players and Potential Contributors

3 .... Trouble in Paradise

3 .... Municipal Water, Sewer, and Waste Disposal

4 .... The Natural Environment

5 .... Early Remediation

6 .... Awakenings

7 .... The Province, the Ministry, and the Feds

8 .... The Shoe Finally Drops

The Beginning

A large toxic waste site is located in Elmira, Ontario, south of Church Street (Waterloo Regional Road 86 also known as Highway #86) and east of Union Street. It surrounds part of the Canagagigue Creek (the Creek) and fittingly a cemetery is located on the north-east border of the property. Additionally the Stroh farm that produces corn and soybeans is on the east side of the site. The Martin farm is south and east of the toxic site. The Elmira Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) is located south of the site and was
created from both the former town dump and reclaimed land from the 1962 realignment of the Creek.

This long time toxic waste site has been owned by a succession of corporate interests starting with the Elmira Felt Co. in 1898 who produced footwear 1. By 1917, the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Co. produced tennis shoes closing due to the Great Depression in 1929 2 Naugatuck Chemical Co., the chemical division of Dominion Rubber Co., purchased this Elmira property in 1941. Dominion Rubber Co. was the Canadian subsidiary of the U.S. Rubber Co. 3

Naugatuck Chemical Co. was renamed Uniroyal Chemical Ltd. (Uniroyal) in 1966. The plethora of corporate names has continued unabated ever since with Crompton & Knowles, Chemtura Canada, and, most recently, Lanxess Canada Inc., which was a subsidiary of Bayer based in Germany. A skeptic could be forgiven for believing that this long succession of owners is at least partly related to an attempt to cloud the environmental stigma of owning this Elmira site.


This environmental stigma includes the production and irresponsible disposal of some
extremely nasty and indeed infamous chemical compounds used in the agricultural industry as well as by the U.S. and Canadian military. The disposal locally of Dichlororodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and Agent Orange has caused the most damage although explosive stabilizers and solvents used in rubber additives have compounded the problem. Other insecticides and herbicides, such as lindane, endosulfan, parathion and associated chemicals have damaged the air, the soil, and both groundwater and surface water. N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) contamination however garnered the most attention in 1989 as was likely intended by the various authorities and Uniroyal .

By 1945 and the end of the Second World War, production at Naugatuck had shifted away from explosive stabilizers and was focused on rubber additives as well as agricultural fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. This factory in Elmira was one of the very first North American locations to manufacture DDT . This so called wonder chemical was indeed deadly towards mosquitoes, and hence, helped win various wars on malaria around the world. It came though at an incredible cost as it moved up the food chain and was absorbed into creek and river sediments, then into fish, and eventually into birds of prey. It isn’t too surprising that even recently the Canadian government has been reluctant to credit either the company or the location for its manufacture .

Other Players And Potential Contributors

Contrary to popular belief Uniroyal was not the only chemical handling or using facility in Elmira, after the Second World War. Their next door neighbour to the south and west was Read Brothers Fertilizers, later known as Genstar, Nutrite Inc., Yara, and finally SNC-Lavalin. Nutrite took over in 1979 and began to focus on blending different fertilizers including some with herbicides included. Its raw materials included nitrogen, potassium, phosphate, 2, 4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) as well as a product known as dimethylamine. Its addition to the contamination of the drinking water aquifers was kept secret from the public until 2000 when Uniroyal demanded assistance from them by insisting they help pay for additions to its ammonia groundwater treatment system.

Farther down the street was a little company known as Varnicolor Chemical Ltd. (Varnicolor). The owner Severin Argenton liked to brag that he was a recycler of used solvents. This company also operated a licensed hazardous waste disposal site located right in town. Varnicolor had been on its site since 1962 and Mr. Argenton also was known to say that he had never had a spill that impacted the environment. Mr. Argenton claimed that he was detoxifying many of the hazardous wastes that came to his door. In fact, he was mostly storing them outdoors and letting the sun, wind, rain, and snow dilute them, evaporate them, and /or spill them onto the bare ground where they quickly soaked into the sand and gravel yard. He did send liquid Waste Derived Fuels to a cement kiln in Michigan, United States where they were burned as part of its production process. Mr. Argenton had previously worked for Naugatuck and he had seen first-hand how it dealt with its wastes. Mr. Argenton also obtained a property in the floodplain of the Creek, south-east of his main site. It was called Lot 91 and became infamous in its own right both for leaking road tankers, intentionally leaking tanks with used solvents in them, and for buried drums filled with waste chemicals, solvents and even Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) in them. In 1993, Mr. Argenton received the then longest jail sentence for environmental crimes in Canadian history.

Located between Uniroyal and Varnicolor was Sulco Chemicals, later known as Canada Colours Co. (CCC). The company produced sulphuric acid for industries and other chemical companies. In its earlier days in Elmira, there were some fires on site and some terrible air emissions including toxic hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The company, however, had a major turnaround at the end of the 1990s and embraced the ethic of *Responsible Care in Elmira, unlike Uniroyal, their neighbour to the north.
Just south of Varnicolor and across Howard Avenue was Borg Textiles Canada Inc. (Borg). Borg was famous for its brand name Borg fabrics among other textile products. Allegedly workers never dumped wastes on the company property; however after 1965 they were suspected of discharging its high strength liquid wastes into the Elmira Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). These discharges were reputed to kill the bacteria used to break down wastes at the STP. In the early 1980s, orange discharges, possibly of chlorobenzene, were seen in the storm drains running between Varnicolor and Borg. As chlorobenzene was allegedly never found on the Varnicolor site it begs the question as to where it came from. In the 1980s, Mr. Argenton vigorously denied that it came from his site; however, based on his vigorous denials a decade later, even after being caught dumping other solvents and worse, his denials shouldn’t carry too much weight.

Other industries in Elmira included Sanyo Canadian Machine Works Inc. (Sanyo) on Industrial Drive as well as the Elmira Shirt and Coverall Co., Walco Equipment Ltd. on Arthur Street and from 1945 to the 1970s, McKee Harvesters at the south end of Elmira. Silverwood Dairy at the extreme north end of Elmira was alleged to routinely dump their liquid food wastes into the Creek which ran beside the factory. There was a furniture factory on Union Street beside Uniroyal. It was originally known as the Elmira Furniture Company and later as Roxton Furniture Ltd. Martin Pet Foods is also located at 43 Arthur St. and there was a sub-surface cleanup of the current parking lot area in front of their buildings many years ago. The Strauss Fuel Depot, owned by Imperial Esso, was across the road from Martin Pet Foods.

The Strauss Fuel Depot was operated by Bill Strauss a long time Wellesley Township councillor (1969 to 1975) and Woolwich Township councillor (1985 to 1994) and he was mayor of Woolwich Township from 1997 to 2010. Mr. Strauss also owned and operated a service station in Heidelberg, a village several kilometers to the south-west . Both these properties were highly contaminated with petroleum products and required extensive cleanup. I worked on the cleanup of the Strauss Fuel Depot in Elmira several years back and the Heidelberg service station is still under remediation in 2018. The Strauss Fuel Depot was immediately beside the Creek and most likely discharged contaminated groundwater resulting from spills and leaks into the creek. Only in Elmira could such a polluter not only be a councillor but end up as a mayor and also on Regional Council. There is a business located not far from the North Wellfield. It has never been made public but it required serious remediation after contamination was discovered on its property. My understanding is that it was cleaned up after the 1989 Elmira water well closures. This garnered no public or media attention. Lastly Elmira has been blessed by multiple service stations with leaking gas and or diesel tanks. The old Gord’s service station by Snyder and Church Street was one of them as well as a gas station at Park and Arthur Street. . The second one had impacted the former Steddick Hotel site as well as its own property. Thirdly was Voisin Motors now the site of Shoppers Drug Mart in downtown Elmira. It was extensively remediated several years ago although likely the municipal drinking water aquifer was impacted by it.

Trouble In Paradise

There were signs of environmental trouble on the horizon. A local trapper, Ken Reger, who also worked at Uniroyal reported chemical contamination in furs of muskrat and other fur- bearing animals in the 1980s. The pelts stank so badly they were not saleable. By 1963 farmer Earl Stroh on the east side of Uniroyal, lost crops from leakage from Uniroyal Chemical’s east side pits and ponds. 4 In the same year, further south, farmer Leander Martin lost a number of cattle who had drunk from the Creek. 5 The cattle apparently didn’t even make it back to the barn before dying. By this time, after twenty years of chemical production and third world disposal methods, the Creek was in huge trouble. It stank, the fish died, sometimes it ran in different colours, and, in fact, if not totally devoid of life, it was extremely close. The assault upon it was staggering. Workers at Uniroyal were dumping solids, liquids, and sludges into various unlined pits and ponds on both sides of the Creek. These pits and ponds often overflowed and the wastes ran overland directly into the creek as well as infiltrated into the ground and dissolved into the groundwater; which then discharged into the Creek. During the 1960s Uniroyal sent approximately 166,000 Imperial gallons of liquid toxic wastes per day via two pipelines across the Creek into two unlined, open waste ponds. With or without precipitation, it’s hard to believe that these ponds didn’t overflow regularly.

Ken Reger also testified at the second Uniroyal Environmental Appeal Board (EAB) hearings in Elmira in the early 1990s. He stated that muskrats on the Uniroyal site were much smaller and thinner than elsewhere 6. Similarly, the backwater at Uniroyal’s north end near Church Street held carp that were half the size of carp further upstream in the Creek. 7 He felt this difference in size was likely due to oil of aniline sludges being used to build up the eastern shore of this backwater area of the Creek. Aniline sludges contain benzene and some of these sludges would slide into the water. Furthermore, finished product would spill from overflowing storage holding tanks. The product was soaked up using gravel that was then shovelled into 45 gallon drums. Mr. Reger testified that these drums and gravel and remaining product “…were usually dumped in the town dump (at the south end of the Uniroyal property), as it was a gooey mess”. 8 Mr. Reger further gave evidence that there were “many pure herbicide spills due to overflowing of tanks…When it became too soupy to walk in more road gravel would be spread there and periodically a front-end loader would take this, usually to the town dump, and fresh gravel would be spread in these areas.” 9

Other former Uniroyal employees as well as citizens also spoke at the EAB hearing regarding the damage and harm that Uniroyal had done to the community over the decades prior to the drinking wells being shut down. Esther Thur, a long time local resident, gave accounts of the chemical odours at nights that wafted through town. She mentioned how the tomatoes in gardens around town all absorbed airborne chemicals and were inedible.10 Incredibly local currency (paper money) in Elmira actually smelled of Uniroyal chemicals.11 West of and next door to the Uniroyal property , the Elmira Furniture Co. and later Roxton Furniture, had to close the windows against fumigations from Uniroyal during the day. Sometimes, the employees, who included Esther Thur’s husband, Ed, were sent home early as they became ill from the fumes.12 Mr. Thur predeceased Esther Thur by many years and Esther Thur, who died in 2004, had blamed Uniroyal for years for the cancers she suffered from. This testimony was written in the Elmira Independent by reporter Roddy Turpin who was the only reporter present for the entirety of the EAB hearings.

Municipal Water, Sewer, and Waste Disposal

Shortly after Naugatuck Chemical reopened the shuttered factory located conveniently with a naturally made waste sewer (the Creek) running down its middle, the town of Elmira decided to provide municipal water to its inhabitants. Private wells had been the norm but in 1944 the first municipal well, E2 (Elmira Well #2) was commissioned. It was located five or six hundred metres north-west of Naugatuck Chemical . This was a very bad idea but it is reasonable to suggest that none of the local councillors or other authorities was negligent. This well was only slightly upgradient via groundwater flow and would be better described as cross-gradient to the direction of natural groundwater flow which was primarily southwards. Further exacerbating future problems more drinking water wells were added to what became known as the North Wellfield. E5 was commissioned in 1947, E6 in 1957, E8 in 1972 and E5A in 1984. In hindsight, the degree of political and environmental incompetence and negligence grew with the addition of each new well so close to the now Uniroyal Chemical factory. In essence the greater the pumping at the North Wellfield the greater the natural southwards flow of groundwater that was diverted north–westwards towards this relatively new wellfield. A pumping well, especially one pumping day in and day out lowers the groundwater levels around it and in effect produces a very wide ranging cone of influence. Hence groundwater further away will tend to move downhill towards where the top of the groundwater surface has been lowered by regular pumping.

Oddly, in hindsight at least, 1961 was the start of ongoing and long term groundwater exploration programs in and around the town of Elmira. By 1961 Elmira’s North Wellfield consisted of wells E2, E5 and E6. The wells were drilled into a deeper municipal aquifer with both having enough thickness as well as areal extent to be able to readily sustain Elmira’s 1961 population. Allegedly the wells provided good quality water free from contamination. Elmira in the 60s certainly wasn’t the bedroom community it has become for Kitchener-Waterloo. Hence, it seems rather incongruous to be spending money at this time looking for something that the community had in abundance.

In 1965 construction began on the Elmira (STP). Until then, municipal sewers carried human waste to a massive surface tank on the west side of the Creek, an area which was later owned by Nutrite Inc. The overflow from this tank went untreated into the Canagagigue Creek. The plan was to use this new STP for both municipal and industrial waste treatment. In fact, Uniroyal contributed financially to building the Elmira STP. The actual property that the STP occupies, remains next to Uniroyal’s southern property border. Uniroyal’s extreme south-west property had formerly been Municipal Landfill #2, known as M2. It operated from 1936 until 1962 and contained municipal garbage, foodstuffs, lawn and garden wastes, paper, ashes, and industrial wastes. The reality is that local industry had always paid taxes and expected municipal services in return, including waste disposal. At the Environmental Appeal Board hearing held in Elmira in the spring of 1991, Ken Reger also testified that steel barrels were removed from the ground during excavation for the STP. In places these barrels were stacked on top of each other eight to nine barrels deep.13 These barrels and their chemical contents had been initially disposed into the M2 landfill, property that was subsequently purchased and used by Uniroyal .

When M2 was closed in 1962 a new municipal/industrial landfill space was built on property leased from Cecil Bolender. The Bolender Landfill was in operation from 1962 until approximately 1970. It too accepted certain Uniroyal wastes. In 1990 with the municipal wells closed, the Bolender landfill was seriously considered as a possible source of NDMA contaminating the municipal aquifers. The First Street Landfill site operated from approximately 1968 until 1972 which was a very short lived landfill. These three landfills were positioned particularly close to the Creek, guaranteeing a ready, ongoing and likely never ending source of contamination to groundwater and in turn to the Creek. To this day, contaminants in the Creek may very well be refreshed from any or all of these landfills. How Woolwich Township to this day have not been ordered to clean them up by at least installing leachate controls or doing hydraulic pumping is beyond me.

In this same year of 1965, groundwater exploration continued in and around Elmira. International Water Supply (IWS) drilled test wells and test holes both north and south of the North Wellfield in the hunt for additional water supplies. The Ontario Water Resources Commission (OWRC) was looking for alternate water supplies on behalf of the Elmira Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Lastly in the 1970s the Region of Waterloo was also looking for additional groundwater sources. What exactly were they not telling the citizens of Elmira back then?

The Natural Environment

In 1966 the former Ontario Water Resources Commission (OWRC) which is now the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP)) did a biological survey of the Grand River watershed. The title of the report is “Biological Survey Of The Grand River And Its Tributaries 1966.” Samples were taken of bottom fauna, fish, and water throughout the entire watershed. The focus of my story is on one creek, namely the Canagagigue in the top half of the Grand River, as well as one of the three reaches of the Grand River, namely the Upper Grand River. I have looked at data from sample points in other creeks feeding into the Grand River as well as data downstream and upstream on rivers before they enter the Grand River. The results are shocking and stunning. I have in the past referred to the Creek as devoid of life. Not just devoid of fish but devoid of all life including the benthic community that lives in the sediments on the bottom of creeks and rivers. The loss of diversity and number of species is indeed shocking. There are, however, small numbers of extremely hardy and pollution tolerant members of the sediment burrowing community in parts of the Creek on the Uniroyal site. There are other parts of the Creek on the site, nearest to specific ponds and lagoons, that have absolutely zero of these tiny organisms because they are not capable of surviving the ongoing toxic chemical releases to the creek.

There was a complete absence of fish between the upstream half of the Uniroyal property and the incoming tributary stream near West Montrose just before Jigs Hollow Road and the Grand River. “At station Ca8, 100 feet downstream from station Ca7, the bottom fauna was altered more drastically towards fewer individuals and reduced number of taxa. Only 4 individuals and 2 taxa of macroinvertebrates were obtained. A community of this nature in Southern Ontario is found only in the presence of considerable toxic pollution. Approximately 100 feet of earth separates the creek from retention lagoons operated by Uniroyal 1966 Limited. Seepage from these ponds probably occurs, thereby accounting for the unbalanced nature of the macroinvertebrate community at station Ca8. Similar conditions were evident at station Ca9, approximately 100 yards downstream from the Elmira Water Pollution Control Plant, and again at stations Ca10 and Ca11. At the latter station, approximately 2 miles downstream from Elmira, toxic conditions limited the bottom fauna to midge larvae (Chironomidae). Environmental conditions were improved considerably at the mouth of Canagagigue Creek (station Ca13) following dilution from the tributary stream at West Montrose.”14 Furthermore this 1966 report advises that “At station Ca6 (Bolender Park), fewer fish than would be expected were obtained and the only species represented was the common shiner, (Notropis cornutus). All were excluded from the creek at and between stations Ca7 and Ca11. Some improvement in water quality was evident at station Ca13 where the white sucker (Catostomus commersoni) and the bluntnosed minnow (Pimphales notatus) were taken. Limited dilution occurs upstream from this station which would account for this improvement. However, a normal fish community was not present at that location and moreover, seven species of fish disappeared from the Grand River at station G11, below the point of entry of Canagagigue Creek into the Grand.” 15
“Within the Grand River itself downstream of the mouth of the ”Gig” impairment of water quality was evident from the fish obtained at stations G8 and G11. At station G11 seven species of fish disappeared as a result of toxic wastes from Canagagigue Creek. …The influence of impaired water from Canagagigue Creek was detected chemically at station G11 on the Grand River. At that location the level of BOD, nutrients and solids increased.”16

By 1968 the OWRC publicly stated that Uniroyal Chemical were an outstanding pollution problem. More test wells were dug in Elmira in 1968 as the search for groundwater continued. At the time there were no shortages or other symptoms of wells running dry in the North Wellfield.

Early Remediation

In 1970 Uniroyal, possibly in consultation with the OWRC, decided to clay line its on-site west side lagoons. These lagoons were the production operating ponds (RPW 5-8) still used to pretreat wastes on their way to the Elmira STP. The plan was to slow the quantity of chemical liquid wastes percolating through the bottom of the ponds into the underlying aquifers. In hindsight the discharging of both solvents and chlorinated compounds known as Dense Non Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLS) continued unabated into the underlying soils, aquitards, and aquifers. In this same year, the first southern well, E7 became operational. It had previously been a test well for the ongoing groundwater exploration in Elmira.

By 1976 Uniroyal ’s pre-treatment plant consisted of activated carbon treatment of its liquid wastes; later they went to the Elmira STP . NDMA was first found in Uniroyal’s wastewater in 1977. That same year, the second well was commissioned in the South Wellfield (E9). Oddly, neither the OWRC, the Elmira PUC nor Uniroyal apparently thought to test the water in the North or South Wellfields for NDMA. In my opinion, the NDMA was already there by 1977 and testing likely would have prevented the next twelve years of human exposures to the carcinogenic chemical. In 1979 Uniroyal tested the air for NDMA around their plant. The monitoring results exceeded the American air standards although Ken Bradley, formerly of Uniroyal, and currently head of the Ontario Waste Management Commission, advised the EAB that his supervisor had told him that it would take ten to twenty years of breathing that air before harm would accrue. Ken informed him that he figured that NDMA had been in the air around Uniroyal for about thirty years. 17

There was cleanup going on between 1984 and 1987. The west side ponds were cleaned of their sludges and liquids. These and other on-site pits and ponds were put into RPE 4 & 5 on the east side of the site. These two east side pits were designated as “consolidation” pits and were then covered with plastic in order to prevent rain from infiltrating them. While I don’t know if rain was prevented from going in I can tell you that pesticide odours and more were not prevented from leaving the pits. In 1991 I took a little independent field trip to the site which earned me my very first, but not last, trespassing citation.

Approximately in 1985 the east side Stroh Drain was built. This drain was on the Stroh property however parallel to the Uniroyal/Chemtura property line and only 20 metres away from it. When or if the “Interceptor Trench” was built on the Chemtura property to divert contaminated groundwater from Uniroyal is open to speculation. My guess is that it was built also shortly before the Elmira drinking wells were shut down by the MOE in November 1989. Currently Chemtura/Laxness likely still dispute that this Interceptor Trench exists. Their credibility has been tested and found wanting over the last thirty years here in Elmira. Indeed if it is what I think it is, the ramifications in regards to environmental laws in Ontario could be severe. It is my belief that this Interceptor Trench was the primary reason why Uniroyal and the MOE settled for only hydraulic containment of Uniroyal’s south-west corner. They felt that the east side groundwater was being effectively diverted from discharging into the Creek on Uniroyal’s property courtesy of the Interceptor Trench and its discharge into the Stroh Drain. The Stroh Drain discharges several hundred metres further downstream back into the creek, well off the Uniroyal property.


A rude awakening occurred in 1979 with notice of the abuses of the chemical industry in North America in general and specifically in New York State as developers built a subdivision on top of the long covered Love Canal. The Canal’s purpose was to by-pass Niagara Falls but it never did get finished. It ended up being used to bury toxic wastes produced by Hooker Electrochemical Company (Hooker). Hooker was quite the success story as they produced trichlorophenol (TCP) among other chemical products. One of their customers was none other than Uniroyal Chemical Ltd. in Elmira. TCP was one of the raw materials used in 2, 4, 5-T herbicide, which had unfortunately an impurity known as 2,3,7,8 TCDD or dioxin. These dioxins caused severe health problems among children in the residential subdivision at Love Canal. Lois Gibbs, a mother of two, found it necessary to mobilize the residents to demand that they be protected and compensated for their property as well as their health losses.

The plot was thickening in Elmira. There were rumours and concerns of course in the community that they were on borrowed time regarding the safety of Elmira’s drinking wells. Publicly, however, whenever they asked, the population of Elmira was reassured that authorities knew exactly what they were doing. By 1981 Uniroyal’s groundwater consultants, Morrison Beatty Ltd., had concluded that the municipal aquifer underneath the Uniroyal site was the exact same aquifer underneath most of Elmira and the same aquifer that both the North and South Wellfields were situated in. That was very bad news as it indicated a direct hydraulic connection from the Uniroyal site to both wellfields. The same year three pumping wells were drilled on the Uniroyal site namely PW1, PW2 and PW3. Their purpose was to reduce natural groundwater migration and hence act as containment wells to prevent Uniroyal’s contaminated groundwater from leaving the site. Way too little, way too late. However these wells were not put to use during the 1980s. There were two legitimate concerns. First, no treatment for the contaminated groundwater was planned prior to its discharge into the Creek. Wow! Second the Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC) was established in 1982 as a committee of Woolwich Township Council. The members believed that these deep pumping wells in the municipal aquifer would likely draw even higher contaminated groundwater from the upper aquifer, deeper into the municipal aquifer faster than it was already migrating downwards.

Jeff Merriman, Environmental Engineer, with Chemtura Canada had advised Michael Heitmann and Bonita Wagler in their 2017 documentary that Uniroyal knew the town wells were threatened in the late 1970s or early 1980s. This awareness makes sense otherwise Uniroyal would never have drilled the on-site containment wells PW1, PW2 and PW3 in 1981. If and when Uniroyal’s toxic legacy made it to either wellfield the jig was up as far as Uniroyal’s public claims that nothing had left its site. The MOE then and now still pretend that contamination in the natural environment is acceptable as long as it hasn’t travelled to another property. This nonsensical position has delayed far too many remediation strategies waiting for the inevitable escape of toxic chemicals to happen.

In 1982 the MOE in conjunction with the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) published a study, titled “Grand River Basin Management Study.” The study focuses on flood control, water quantity, and water quality. The Canagagigue was considered a major issue as its waters had been polluting the Grand River since the late 1940s. The research for this report was done between 1977 and 1981 and makes clear that all parties involved such as the GRCA, MOE, and Uniroyal were fully aware of the threat that existed to the Elmira municipal drinking water supplies at that time, approximately a decade prior to the actual shutdown of the municipal wellfields.

Also clearly enunciated in the report is the further damage that had been done to the Grand River in Woolwich Township by an old, abandoned landfill containing oils and petroleum sludges in it between Breslube Enterprises Limited in Breslau and the Grand River. This site had been the cause of the Region of Waterloo shutting down two Infiltration Wells along the Grand River, namely K70 and K71. To this day outgoing Regional Chair Ken Seiling and his Engineering Department still refuse to acknowledge the toxic contamination from this landfill and its effects upon either the wells or the river. This report also points the finger at Borg Textiles Canada Inc. in Elmira as sending toxic loads to the Elmira STP which damaged the bacteria needed for the biological treatment of sewage wastes.18

In May of 1982, the Ontario MOE sent a letter to Jack Pym, Manufacturing Manager, of Uniroyal advising him that its site had a very serious pollution problem.19 Dioxins were found for the first time in 1984 at 600 parts per trillion on the Uniroyal site in the location of the former municipal landfill known as M2. 20 Surface soil standards for Dioxins vary with the use of the land such as parks, agricultural, or industrial purposes. Regardless the standards are all well below 100 parts per trillion. David Ash, Uniroyal’s general manager, advised the K-W Record of this contamination in their January 20, 1993 edition. In 1984, five years prior to the shutdown of the public drinking wells, Uniroyal and the MOE likely figured that this Dioxin bad news was best kept between them. This was especially so as Dioxins at Love Canal had people concerned. Essentially the discovery of Dioxins in M2 reinforced that there were industrial wastes in Elmira’s landfill sites including the Bolender Landfill just across Church Street and from the company.

Back to the 1984 Control Order served on Jack Pym, the Manager of Manufacturing at Uniroyal Chemical Ltd. The 1984 Control Order not only ordered a professional hydrogeological report, it required additional test well monitoring and leachate control from the west side operating ponds. This control order also required remediation of the east side pits and control of discharges from magnetic anomalies, which would indicate buried drums. The December 1, 1983 Morrison Beatty report is referenced in this control order. Two of these three requirements were attended to vigorously by Uniroyal. They removed two thousand drums filled with toxic wastes from Burial Area East-1 (BAE-1) on the east side and sent them off-site. Uniroyal’s sub-contractors removed sludges from the west side operating ponds and sent them across the Creek to the east side “Consolidation” pits RPE 4 & 5. However they did not remediate the east side pits until well after toxic disaster struck the municipal wells in 1989.Uniroyal dug them up out of the earth and stored them in an on-site facility Uniroyal called the Envirodome in December 1993 . Talk about face saving with the name “Envirodome” and putting a positive spin on their negligence. The locals referred to the building as either the “Toxidome” or the “Mausoleum.”

In 1987 the previously mentioned two thousand drums were excavated from BAE-1 and removed from the site. Likely they ended up in Corunna, Ontario (near Sarnia) at a supposedly secure hazardous waste site. Seven thousand gallons of liquid wastes including dioxins were pumped into two blue tanks on the east side for long term storage. In 1988, the groundwater exploration programs around Elmira were still in progress. In hindsight, it seems obvious that all the players knew the score at this time while continuing to deceive the public.

The Province, the Ministry, and the Feds

By 1984 the MOE knew that they were in serious trouble. Love Canal had been in the news for some time and governments, industry, and the regulators were all looking very bad. Something serious had to be done so when the wells went down all parties could claim that they had already been taking significant steps. Their April 13, 1984 Control Order demanded that more monitoring wells be built and monitoring be done on a routine and regular basis. Both groundwater elevation monitoring, which shows the direction of groundwater flow, as well as chemical analyses of the groundwater were to be carried out regularly. In the North Wellfield well E5A was drilled to replace well E5. Interestingly but not at all surprisingly E5A was the well in the North Wellfield farthest away from Uniroyal. Also interestingly in the 1989 Drinking Water Surveillance Program (DWSP), well E5A was the only well tested by the MOE in the North Wellfield. This in my opinion speaks to the unwillingness of the Ontario MOE to admit to the contamination of the drinking water wells one second sooner than absolutely necessary. All parties were hoping to wriggle out of the mess their negligence had caused, with their skins and reputations intact.

Two other ironic twists of fate need to be mentioned. The provincial officer who legally served Jack Pym with the April 13, 1984 Control Order was none other than Glenn P. McDonald of the MOE. The provincial officer who provided the report from which the Control Order was written was Wayne Jackman of the MOE Mr. Jackman went on to be the main MOE’s liaison and hydrogeologist in regards to the future control order served on Varnicolor Chemical Ltd. and would testify later at the legal prosecution of its owner, Severin Argenton. After the smoke cleared, Mr. Jackman also worked on behalf of the MOE in negotiations with Phillips Environmental Inc. (Phillips) a company that wanted to buy the Varnicolor site. Private deals were made, not in the public interest, and resulted in the control order for deep examination of the soils for solvent contamination; mysteriously disappearing from the new control order. This saved Phillips substantial monies by only having to do a very shallow cleanup. Mr. Jackman was then hired away from the MOE by Phillips.

Glenn P. McDonald’s future was a little less bright. He was caught tipping off Severin Argenton of Varnicolor about an impending raid on May 17, 1990 by the MOE. I assisted with his getting caught due to an informant I had, working inside Varnicolor, after I’d been fired by Mr. Argenton. Mr. McDonald was criminally charged with Breach of Trust although charges were mysteriously reduced with zero prior warning to the citizens involved in Mr. McDonald apprehension. Nevertheless, he was convicted of obstructing an MOE officer and was fired from the Ontario Ministry of Environment.

Dames & Moore was removed by David Ash of Uniroyal in 1992 and Conestoga Rovers (CRA) took over as Uniroyal’s full time consultants. I can take major credit for getting Dames & Moore removed and perhaps unfortunately some discredit for bringing on CRA. This will be elaborated on in Chapter Three. Hindsight being 20/20 vision, I expect that Uniroyal wanted the benefit of a highly successful consulting firm whose engineers had recently made their bones with their hydraulic containment of the Love Canal. Decades later, CRA looked less successful and intelligent as ongoing problems plagued Love Canal’s remaining residents still. It’s my experience that history can be funny that way. In 2017 and 2018 CRA’s engineers aren’t looking so hot in Elmira either. Dr. Richard Jackson, past chair of the Technical Advisory Group, has quite deflated their professional efforts, or lack thereof, in Elmira.

By 1989, consulting company, CH2MHILL had completed Phase 1 of a research and development program to investigate permanent on-site contaminated groundwater solutions occurring at toxic waste sites in Canada. The partners funding this study included the federal Department of Supply & Services, Ontario MOE and Environment Canada. Unsurprisingly, especially in hindsight, the demonstration project was to be at Uniroyal Chemical Ltd. in Elmira, Ontario. This was the last known public input the Federal Government of Canada made regarding the Uniroyal property. Representatives have kept their distance since 1989 despite being formally requested to assist by Dr. Henry Regier. Dr. Regier a renowned academic and leader in international research institutes and agencies for ecosystems and water quality as well as a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his life-long work; sent a letter of appeal to the Auditor General of Canada in 2004 requesting assistance regarding cleanup of the site.

The Shoe Finally Drops

In November 1989 the MOE advised the Region of Waterloo that they had sampled the water two months earlier from well E7 in the South Wellfield and found a strange sounding chemical known as NDMA. They also advised that they had found cyclohexylamine. The MOE did not have a drinking water standard for NDMA but other jurisdictions did and this well exceeded those standards. NDMA was considered to be carcinogenic. At the time I lived in Kitchener but was working in Elmira and drinking the tap water during the day. There appeared to be confusion on the part of all our government authorities. They all seemed to be totally taken by surprise by the discovery. They immediately speculated that grease used for the pumps at the wells may have contaminated the water with NDMA. At a public meeting, citizen Richard Clausi among others debunked this suggestion as nonsense. Was this attempt to identify a source nothing more than a Hail Mary or a last ditch attempt to deflect responsibility for government shortcomings? The whole basis of the NDMA discovery allegedly being the sole cause of the shutdown of the Elmira wellfields always seemed to me to be very self-serving for our local politicians and authorities. NDMA moves more quickly than many other chemicals in the groundwater. Other chemicals are “retarded” or slowed by bonding with soil particles in the subsurface whereas NDMA readily dissolved and flowed with the groundwater and at the same speed.

When residents began to recall years of frequently bad tasting tap water their thoughts went to the stinkiest company in town and that would be Uniroyal Chemical. Yes Elmira had had Rothsay Concentrates, a rendering company, stink up the town much earlier on with dead animal carcasses but Uniroyal had the market for chemical stenches pretty much cornered. Wally Ruck, a very senior Uniroyal Chemical spokesperson, claimed that “NDMA was not in their vocabulary.” He never did live down that falsehood. Recall that Uniroyal had discovered NDMA in their wastewater going to the Elmira STP back in 1977 and then again in their air emissions in 1979.

Of course the MOE had to wade in and reassure everybody that they were all over the problem. Jim Bradley, the Minister of the Environment at the time, sent a crack 5 man team to Elmira to discover who and where the source of the NDMA was. Many locals as well as some in the MOE were pretty sure that Uniroyal was the source. Uniroyal denied it and even went so far as to offer to donate one million Canadian dollars towards a formal study of all potential sources in Elmira. Uniroyal seemed unusually confident that they were not the only source of groundwater contamination in Elmira. While other sources have indeed been found since for contributing other chemical contamination in the municipal aquifers, to date no one has been put on the hook other than Uniroyal for the NDMA contamination. My bets are still on Varnicolor Chemical Ltd. and or Sanyo Canadian Machine Works although evidence for the latter is extremely thin.

While working in Elmira in 1989 I had virtually zero knowledge of groundwater, aquifers, pollution standards for chemicals in groundwater, etc. What I did know was that I was currently working for a pig of an individual, environment wise. Before the 1989 water crisis broke in town I had been documenting for nearly a year various spills, leaks, and other negligent handling of solvents. I was appalled by what I saw happening at Varnicolor in Elmira. It was the most backward, amateur operation imaginable. Workers would even attempt to stop the spread of spilled liquid solvents on the bare ground using snow when we ran out of sawdust. What a farce. I had also seen the relationship between the MOE and Varnicolor Chemical. It was beyond pathetic. The MOE would phone ahead of time and ask the owner, Severin Argenton, when it would be convenient for them to inspect on such and such a day. Often, it was not convenient at a suggested date and a future one was set. Workers would then use the extra time to clean up the yard, at least superficially. Never were the employees asked any questions and similar to Jim Bradley’s five man team usually we would never see the MOE representatives. They spent the bulk of their time in the office where it wasn’t quite so dirty and stinky, drinking coffee, and chatting with management.

Hindsight is often 20/20. I only wish I knew the history of both Uniroyal and Elmira back at the start of my thirty year odyssey into public consultation and activism. I sincerely wish that all the citizens involved in those early days knew what had transpired prior to their foray into the realm of polluters, politicians and the environment. This is partly the purpose of this book. The next generation need a manual, a how to, a how not to, an eye opening into the human weaknesses not only of politicians, corporate managers, government bureaucrats but also of their fellow citizens.

ENDNOTES for Chapter One

1 Susan C. Rupert, Communication of Citizen Environmental Concerns: Relations Between APT
Environment And Local News Media, Waterloo, 1994, p.114.

2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 Roddy Turpin, “Former Uniroyal employee highlights effects of Canagagigue creek pollution”,
Elmira Independent, May 6, 1991, p.1.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid. p.3.
11 Ibid. p.3.
12 Ibid. p.3.
13 Ibid. p.3.
14 M.J. German, Biological Survey of the Grand River And Its Tributaries 1966, December 1967, p.8.
15 Ibid. p.9.
16 Ibid. p.17.
17 Bob Burtt, No Guardians At The Gate, 2014, p.19.
18 GRCA, Grand River Basin Water Management Study, 1982, p.E5.
19 Editorial, Elmira Independent, “Current situation is extremely serious”, February 19, 1991, p.4.
20 Bob Burtt, “Dioxins blamed on old dump”, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, January 20, 1993, p. 4.




Chapter Two:


10 .... Ontario Ministry of Environment

11 .... Surprise Raid

12 .... Full Aerial Response Team

12 .... Bait & Switch

13 .... Shhh

13 .... Infrastructure for Mass Surreptitious Dumping

14 .... Public Inquiry Needed

Chapter 2

Ontario Ministry of Environment

Almost simultaneously with the Elmira Water Crisis and Uniroyal Chemical we had the deeply concerning revelations about another bad apple chemical company in Elmira, Ontario namely Varnicolor Chemical. None of we APT members had any real experience dealing with the government employed deceivers and factually challenged individuals who in hindsight were more concerned with the MOE’s reputation than they were with protecting the environment. With thirty years hindsight I can see much more clearly how individuals who may have started with high expectations and hopes to make a difference were slowly ground down from above. Making waves, as in many organizations, was the cardinal sin. Keep in mind that when I use the word corruption in regards to the Ontario MOE it doesn’t have to be brown paper bags full of cash as was received by a past Canadian Prime Minister. Corruption can be as simple as senior staff telling underlings to either look the other way or always assume the best unless categorically proven otherwise. Even insisting upon unreasonable levels of evidence or proof beyond reproach before even beginning an investigation can be corruption.

The focus of this book is on how our authorities intentionally supported and ran interference for industrial polluters while simultaneously misleading the public. Because of that some of the examples of MOE corruption regarding Varnicolor need to be told. I’ve already mentioned that the MOE were in the habit of cooperating with industrial concerns by scheduling their inspections of their facilities ahead of time. This tended to remove the adversarial nature of inspectors trying to “catch” lawbreaking businesses. The attitude was fostered by the MOE that hey we’re just here to help you avoid expensive problems down the road or to avoid inadvertent bad practices that could be construed as detrimental to the environment. It was an intentionally congenial and collaborative effort all on behalf of the environment and the public interest. After all it had nothing to do with intentional bad apples it was simply that business interests were experts in producing the products of their businesses and the Ontario MOE were experts in helping businesses avoid costly environmental problems down the road. In a sense the MOE tried to establish that they were partners with industry. I can actually see that approach working with some industries and businesses. Profit is not a dirty word. If the MOE are dealing with a company with a truly clean environmental record then it’s in both parties interests to keep the relationship professional, congenial, and respectful. If however they are dealing with a company who have clearly polluted the air, the water, and the ground then a sterner, less accommodating approach is required. Often over the decades, I’ve expressed my opinion in regards to the MOE’s partnership with Uniroyal Chemical by referring to them as partners in pollution with Uniroyal Chemical.

My second exposure to the style of enforcement practiced by the MOE came about when I was ordered into the office of Severin Argenton in early 1990. Severin had a copy of a letter that I had sent anonymously to the MOE advising them of some of the ongoing pollution activities at Varnicolor Chemical. These included both intentional dumping as well as unintended but inevitable spills of solvents on site. Severin was very upset and claimed that he knew that I was the source of the letter. I accurately replied that his claim was nonsense and stated that I had no idea where the letter came from or how he had gotten it. I also read part of it and said that the level of knowledge shown in the letter was far above my knowledge or experience level. I knew that Severin was totally bluffing because I hadn’t told a soul at Varnicolor Chemical about my environmental concerns with what was going on. That was obviously the quickest way to get fired on the spot. Basically the MOE had read my letter and then sent it to Severin probably expecting that he would take care of the problem by firing the offender. In hindsight I expect that he might have hauled a couple of other employees into his office and tried to bluff them as well.

I was indeed quickly “suspended” (fired) after I publicly came out to APT Environment at a public meeting in Elmira in February 1990. Fortunately the next month Dr. Bert Nalliah decided that he had had enough of Severin and his anti social, polluting behaviour. Bert had not only quit but he sent me a letter condemning Severin and Varnicolor for a plethora of polluting practices again both intentional and otherwise. The media jumped on the story and APT were also pleased because Varnicolor did not have the power and prestige that Uniroyal did. Uniroyal were a large employer whereas Varnicolor were not. Uniroyal sponsored community events whereas Varnicolor did not. Therefore criticism of APT waned when it became clear that they weren’t simply anti Uniroyal but were anti polluters in the community.

The MOE however were another story. They rode in to Varnicolor’s defence immediately. They (in the person of Dave Ireland) claimed that a hydrogeological study had been done and that there was only minor groundwater contamination at Varnicolor. He claimed that Varnicolor had always passed their inspections and that while housekeeping was a little lax there were no environmental problems. This story was in the K-W Record prior to Dr. Nalliah’s stepping up.21 When we finally got a copy of the latest groundwater monitoring results done at Varnicolor it was beyond shocking. The sheer numbers of solvents and various chemicals in the shallow groundwater was ridiculous. The concentrations varied from parts per billion (ppb) to parts per million (ppm). The few chemical names that we recognized we looked up references such as the Ontario Drinking Water Standards (ODWS) to see if these groundwater concentrations exceeded them. Many did.

We advised the MOE that there were environmental problems on Varnicolor’s other site located at the extreme eastern end of Oriole Parkway. The site became known as Lot 91. There were old road tankers being used to store various fuels, solvents and what appeared to be liquid wastes. The site itself was scary and stinky. The smell was that of solvents. We also found a few old steel drums in various stages of deterioration on the site. All in all there was no attempt to make this site look even remotely acceptable. Frankly at the time we didn’t have a clue as to how bad it was. Only months and years later did we gain a better understanding of the intentional dumping that had gone on here for a very long time.

Surprise Raid

The May 17, 1990 raid turned the whole Elmira Water Crisis on its head. APT Environment, of which we were all members, had under the tutelage of Susan Rupert and the Co-ordinating Committee been making an excellent name for themselves as knowledgeable, informed citizens who did their homework and asked reasonable, intelligent questions. While many residents were still willing to give the MOE the benefit of the doubt because there wasn’t yet a smoking gun, this incident changed all that. Even the seen it all, heard it all media were shocked by what transpired. I was tipped off a few days before May 17/90 that there was going to be a surprise raid on Varnicolor. It would include many MOE officers, police and scientific experts. How, pray tell, I asked my source, did you get wind of this “surprise” raid? My source who has remained anonymous to this day at his/her request advised me that none other than Severin was bragging to his staff that he’d received a tip directly from the MOE and that he knew exactly when they were coming and what they were looking for. In fact, he even removed some of his computer files prior to the MOE’s imminent raid. I shared my information with APT and we decided to spoil the party and spoil it publicly. If this was true then all the worries about corruption and collusion and private backroom deal making between the MOE and polluters that other activists had been telling us about seemed almost to be small potatoes.

Sure enough the raid was set for 8 am. of May 17, 1990. About 7:45 the media who we’d contacted started showing up in the Varnicolor parking lot. Local newspapers, television and radio were there.22 Farther afield media also had been advised of the “surprise” raid. APT members with more flexible work schedules were there including me and Richard Clausi. At 8 am. in came car after car of MOE officers along with police officers to keep the peace in case Severin misbehaved. That of course wasn’t the problem for the MOE. The problem was that there were dozens of reporters, photographers and media outlets all sitting, waiting for the supposedly secret, surprise raid. The MOE were dead in the water. How the hell could APT have known about this secret raid and tipped off so many media who all showed up to find out if it was a hoax or for real? Within hours the MOE announced that one of their Investigation & Enforcement Branch officers was the leak. Glen McDonald admitted to tipping off Severin days before the raid. Mr. McDonald claimed that he felt sorry for Severin. Wow!

So was there but one bad apple within the Ontario Ministry of Environment willing to give (or sell?) secrets to polluting industries? That was a very difficult question. Were they incompetent or corrupt or a little of both? Again hard to say. Individual grotesque incidents may paint a picture that is worth a thousand words. Or not. Here is another one.

Full Aerial Response Team

I was snooping on Lot 91 in 1991. I was doing this because after my experiences already related here I had zero confidence in the MOE. It was all compounded by their never ending lying to APT members at Varnicolor Liason Committee (VLC) meetings which Rich Clausi, Ted Oldfield and I attended, representing APT Environment. The stories the MOE told did not add up to what I knew first hand having worked for Varnicolor for nearly two years. They also didn’t add up to my inside sources ongoing phone conversations with me. I went on the Lot 91 site with a camera as usual and started looking around. Lo and behold if I didn’t spot a steel drum partly poking out of the ground. Then another one and another one. Some of them were more visible as the grass had been flattened down presumably by greater human activity on the site. A couple of others actually appeared as if some soil had been taken away along an embankment. Some were vertical in the ground and others horizontal.

The next VLC meeting we were blessed with the presence of Arley McDonald MOE, the head of the Investigations & Enforcement Branch (IEB). APT members started talking about buried drums on the Lot 91 site. Now keep in mind the site is off the beaten path plus in the summer months the tree foliage and heavy underbrush hide the bulk of the site from any public property nearby. Darrol Bryant and I had been charged with trespassing on this site several months earlier. In that incident we were videotaping solvents leaking from a tanker onto the ground, and Severin showed up in a very aggressive mood. He was charged with assault. Regardless Arley McDonald knew that the site was private property and that there were no sightlines from off-site so he likely felt confident in assuring us that there absolutely were not any buried drums or even surface drums on this site as the MOE were all over Varnicolor by now and nothing was escaping their eagle eyed attention. Well I gently and politely advised Arley that I had information contrary to his and perhaps he might want to confirm with somebody, anybody, about buried drums before categorically declaring that there weren’t any present. Arley made the mistake of either thinking I was bluffing or that I only had verbal information from my inside source whom by now the MOE understood I had.

What I had were colour photographs clearly showing the Lot 91 site and clearly showing various drums in various states of exposure from the ground. But it was actually much more than that. Beside each and every drum a small wooden stake had been hammered into the ground. On each stake was a small red ribbon clearly put there in order to find the buried or semi –buried drums readily again. And then there was the final nail in Arley and the MOE’s coffin. Arley was not alone representing the MOE at this meeting. Other local officers were present. I had given Arley ample time and opportunity to amend his claim or to even throw in a couple of weasel words or possible outs. Neither he nor any of the other MOE officers backed down an inch. There were NOT any drums any longer on this site as they‘d all been removed. The final nail if you will was that each wooden stake had three letters in black magic marker written on them. The letters were M, O and E (MOE).

When the sputtering MOE officers and others present indignantly demanded to know how we could possibly have gotten colour photographs of such close up quality on a site hidden from the public road to the site, Richard Clausi advised them thusly. We used APT’s Full Aerial Response Team in order to take these photographs. Or FART for short.

Bait & Switch

Were other lessons learned from Varnicolor that shed light on MOE integrity and credibility? Unfortunately yes. Richard, Ted and I helped write the Varnicolor Chemical Control Order during these VLC meetings. One major aspect was that a hydrogeological report had to be done on the processing site at 62 Union St. which examined the full aerial and vertical extent of the contamination on this site. This was crucial to understanding whether or not Varnicolor’s dumping here had impacted the municipal aquifers supplying drinking water to Elmira residents. The MOE was hotly pursuing Uniroyal as the only source and Uniroyal were vehemently denying it. Sure enough when Phillips Environmental expressed interest in purchasing the site, suddenly the control order requirement for deep investigation was missing in action. Talk about a bait and switch. Public consultation was revealed as only for assisting the MOE as a public relations exercise and was not to be an impediment to their ability to make corporate deals not in the public interest. The MOE wanted someone else with money to buy the site and pay for even the greatly reduced investigation and subsequent cleanup.


The cleanup on the Varnicolor site continues to this day. That is a tad odd for a site that we were told would require about ten years of pumping and treating after much of the shallow aquifer was excavated and removed from the site. The actual excavations were completed in 1994. The shallow pump and treat system was installed the next year and has been underway ever since. Granted there were complications as a neighbour’s property was discovered to be contaminated years later and had to be integrated into Varnicolor’s containment and treatment system. This of course was all done on the down low in order not to let the public know exactly how serious the Varnicolor contamination actually was. The current owner has been jumping through MOE hoops and loops for over fifteen years now. He has done everything and more that was requested and yet is still waiting for a Record of Site Condition (RSC) that would permit him to develop the property. His hydrogeological consulting firm is known as Peritus Environmental and they completed a Risk Assessment also required by the MOE more than two years ago. That Risk Assessment indicated that six different solvents from Varnicolor Chemical had penetrated through the shallow aquifer, the clay and silt aquitard and broken through to the municipal drinking water Aquifer. All of this was intentionally not investigated back in the early 1990s.

Infrastructure for Mass Surreptitious Dumping

One last issue that revealed the MOE’s agenda was their mishandling of the buried tanker and septic tank in the back yard of Varnicolor. Once again my source inside Varnicolor, after I had been fired, advised me of some astounding news. They reported that the floor drain in the front office building was hooked up to a three way valve inside the building. This valve could send the water, solvents, or whatever Severin wanted to either the storm sewers, the sanitary sewers or out the back of the building to a buried road tanker. Seriously! In fact while the first position of the valve went to only one sewer system the choice of sending the liquids to be slowly percolated into the soil behind the office building had two locations. The first as mentioned was the buried road tanker which in fact was the trailer only not the actual truck tractor that pulled it. The other option was a buried septic tank. Now keep in mind that while a buried road tanker was more than a little bizarre a buried septic tank certainly is not. After all that’s exactly where they are supposed to be such that toilet wastes can be broken down by bacteria within the tank and then the liquid can be slowly percolated through the tile bed into the ground. This septic tank however was not hooked up to the company’s toilets. They were hooked into the sanitary sewers where treatment then took place at the Elmira Sewage Treatment Plant. Prior to 1965 this site quite likely had a septic system consisting of a tank and tile bed. Keep in mind that the company started there in 1962 although the building was formerly owned by one of Severin’s ongoing suppliers namely Bridgeland Terminals (BTL).

Richard, Ted, and I as APT representatives on the Varnicolor Liaison Committee had an ongoing public audience as the media attended the meetings. This included the Elmira Independent as well as often the K-W Record. Also keep in mind that after the expose of the MOE’s likely corruption due to their “surprise” raid fiasco, we had a ton of credibility. The MOE initially denied everything. No it wasn’t possible. No we had bad information. How could you possibly know that? Why hadn’t Mr. Marshall made that allegation months ago? They were adamant but so were we. After all “Deep Throat” had never let us down. His/her credibility was miles ahead of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Eventually the MOE caved. Sort of. They set an approximate date and suggested that they would excavate behind the orange building (office building) looking for some imaginary buried tanker. We of course, possibly still unknown to them, were legally and with permission accessing a nearby building which overlooked the Varnicolor property. Lots of film footage, videos and photographs were taken from there. In fact the actual extent of the “lax” housekeeping was readily apparent as was the illegality of most of Varnicolor’s operations. Simple things like having skids of full drums of solvents and liquid wastes no more than two skids high were routinely ignored. All of that was obvious to us while at the same time the MOE were reassuring the public that Varnicolor were small potatoes compared to Uniroyal Chemical as the destroyers of the municipal aquifers. There were even a couple of APT members who expressed concerns that despite APT’s improved public persona by going after Varnicolor, they were worried that Varnicolor might take attention off of Uniroyal.

The dig took place and that evening we were on the roof recording the results. Indeed there was the previously buried road tanker. Just as importantly we could see two pipes coming through the building and where one had been attached to the tanker. Oddly there was a second pipe that seemed to just end near the back of the road tanker. Richard and I arranged a meeting with MOE officers Gord Robinson and Con Papenhuzen. They were very polite and helpful and even provided us with colour photographs which were appreciated. Yes the tanker had been hooked up to the one pipe. No there was very little inside the tanker and no they couldn’t see any holes or openings in the tanker that would allow for liquids discharged from the floor drain inside the building to enter the tank and then slowly drain into the subsurface soils. At the moment they didn’t have an explanation as to why it was there and hooked up to the floor drain but they were making inquiries of the building’s previous owners. Lastly no our information was wrong there was no buried septic tank anywhere in the area near the buried road tanker.

Richard and I were somewhat perplexed. Here was the smoking gun (almost) of what could be construed as a major illegal toxic liquid waste disposal system. We asked/pleaded with the two officers that the tanker be examined in great detail to see if there were either natural breeches in its integrity such as rust holes or damage as well as determining if there were any intentional punctures of the tanker that would allow any contents received from the orange building (office) to be dispersed into the soil. Richard and I were categorically promised that the tanker would not be destroyed but that it would be carefully examined to determine if it was part of an intentional, illegal liquid waste disposal system. We were lied to neither for the first nor the last time.

At that point I went back to examining the Ministry’s colour photographs more carefully. I had great reason for so doing. Something was very wrong in them. These photographs were indeed taken at the time of the excavation and were time stamped. The ones that Richard and I and APT had were taken hours after the excavation. Plus “Deep Throat” (DT) had been present at the time of the excavation. He/she was a trusted, reliable, well paid, and long term employee. It’s even possible that after nearly thirty years that it is time to reveal the identity of my inside source at Varnicolor Chemical. While Severin went to his grave not knowing, as have others in the intervening years, nevertheless credit is due. Perhaps one last phone call may be necessary as a courtesy before this happens.

DT told me that the backhoe readily “discovered” the buried road tanker behind the building. Equally obvious were the two pipes coming through the building and running alongside the wall. One indeed went into the road tanker and the other went into the septic tank immediately at the back end of the tanker. DT then advised me that the concrete lid was lifted off the septic tank using the backhoe, surrounding gravel was scooped up by the bucket and put into the tank after the lid was smashed, broken up and placed into the tank. What the hell were they thinking of? None of this was shared with Robinson or Papenhuzen at the time. They had a story to tell and we wanted to hear it first without them knowing how much we already knew.

Both gentlemen kept on reassuring Richard and I that they had found nothing extraordinary. I found that comment itself extraordinary. It was as if they had been the ones telling us ahead of time that there was a buried tanker there and not the other way around. They kept reiterating that there wasn’t any buried septic tank nor was one expected to be found! This was a little too much, however as I didn’t know exactly how many Varnicolor employees, contractors or MOE were present at the dig I decided not to confront them with their ridiculous story directly. Protecting my incredible source turned out to have been the right move all along even in the early days when I didn’t trust him/her an inch. Instead I pointed out a slight problem with their colour photographs. There the two officers were busily snapping photographs during and after the dig including one lovely shot of the one officer standing at the north end of the gaping hole where the tanker had been. He was smiling as his colleague took his picture. I believe it was the aptly named Con standing there with a couple of steel rods poking out from the gravel Con was standing on. I pointed this out to them. In fact not only were there a couple of pieces of rebar or reinforcing rod sticking out but a very close examination of the photographs showed what looked like a gap somehow in the ground below Con’s feet. The twits or whoever took the picture took it before they’d gotten around to smashing the lid and putting it into the tank. The rebar was from damage to the concrete lid by the bucket of the backhoe while they were digging out the road tanker. The gap that could be seen in the picture was from where the lid of the septic tank had been shifted or raised a few inches. Here was Con Papenhuzen standing on top of what at one time likely was an actively used septic tank with the lid not entirely secure.

Both MOE gentlemen gave the impression of being genuinely shocked and perplexed. Could they have been playing Richard and I? Possibly, but at the time I didn’t think either one was clever enough by half to do that. I suppose I could give them the benefit of the doubt and defend their honour by suggesting that they weren’t so much intentionally lying and covering up as they were simply incompetent. Perhaps the MOE like other less than honest organizations put a premium on loyalty and naivety well above independent thinking. The evidence however seems to put them clearly on site at the time of the excavation. Perhaps their superiors lowered the boom and categorically told them to deceive Richard and I. Results at a later date of samples taken from both the septic tank and the road tanker clarified that indeed both vessels had been used for drainage of liquid wastes from the Varnicolor building.

Public Inquiry Needed

Indeed these photographs further destroyed the MOE’s credibility as we showed them to various reporters and others.23 In hindsight it is absolutely amazing that the talk of some sort of public inquiry into the MOE’s handling of the Varnicolor investigation ended up being exactly that: talk. The media were behind the idea as was the Varnicolor sub-committee of APT. It was from these experiences that I later entered the Uniroyal fray front and centre. Ah politics yet again. Internal politics. Had the new, incoming leadership of APT after Susan Rupert left already made a secret deal with the MOE regarding keeping Varnicolor on the down low and out of sight as much as possible? Disgusting if so.

A couple of further comments before I move back directly to the Uniroyal battles. Not only APT under the leadership of Susan Rupert but Richard and I with help from the very busy lawyer Ted Oldfield had established publicly our bona fides. We had shown grit, determination, smarts and the ability to dig. We had proven our integrity and our honest search for the truth. Little did we know that that was way more than enough for the Ontario MOE not to want to work with us and indeed to keep us in the dark as much as possible.

We stepped back somewhat after Varnicolor closed although we kept an eye on the still leaking Union St. site as the thousands of drums kept springing leaks until they were finally all removed by 1993. We participated at the Environmental Appeal Board when Varnicolor appealed trying to weaken the control order laid upon them. We were available for Severin Argenton’s trial for multiple charges under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act. None of the three of us was subpoenaed by the MOE to testify until we protested and I was belatedly subpoenaed although never called to testify. Speaking of the charges, when they were first laid they were all as Severin derogatorily, and publicly stated, mere “paperwork” charges. Astoundingly the MOE hadn’t charged him with polluting the environment or the groundwater under his site. With large scale groundwater contamination via illegal and surreptitious dumping, including DNAPLS and LNAPLS, how was this possible? Realize that the Elmira Municipal Aquifers that ran under Uniroyal and all the way to the South Wellfield also ran beneath Varnicolor Chemical. It was K-W Record reporter Phil Jalsevac who quickly picked up on this and started asking hard questions. Once again we publicly had to shame the Ontario MOE into doing their job. It was almost as if they categorically did not want the public to know the extent of environmental damage done by this company as they were more concerned about keeping Uniroyal Chemical securely and solely on the hook. In fact at the time Woolwich Township put together another committee under Councillor Ruby Weber to go over the details of the proposed pump and treat system.

During all of this we (APT) were still in regular contact with the MOE through the ongoing Uniroyal Public Advisory Committee (UPAC). Susan Rupert had departed to live in Waterloo and study at the University of Waterloo and I was soon working regularly with Susan Bryant and Sylvia Berg who had stepped up after the departure of Susan Rupert. Despite my comments a few paragraphs previously I trusted Susan and Sylvia implicitly. I simply couldn’t imagine any reason not to at that time. In fact I was so naïve that unfortunately normal human misbehaviour of ego, pride, and status weren’t even on my radar. The MOE promised to keep us in the loop as to developments with the cleanup being proposed by Phillip Environmental for the site. They advised that they would make all meeting minutes available from the new Township Committee. We were to receive documentation related to Varnicolor more or less as long as they were still being remediated. Once again words were nothing but wind from the MOE . Over the remaining decades usually from the public position of UPAC or CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) I would demand any news the MOE had of Varnicolor. They always promised and rarely delivered.

Eventually I even got wind after the fact of a groundwater cleanup done at Varnicolor’s west side neighbour Motiveair Inc. This was obviously shallow contamination from Varnicolor that left their property and migrated over to Motiveair. It was also of huge importance and consequence as the MOE had been lying to the public for decades regarding the absence of contaminants leaving the Varnicolor site. How much else was kept hidden from us we didn’t find out literally for decades. To this day the MOE have yet not signed off on the Varnicolor cleanup for the next buyer after Phillips Environmental, namely Elmira Pump. The owners had experience with water treatment operations as they both had worked at Kuntz Electroplating in Kitchener. They were told around 2000 that ten more years of operation of the shallow aquifer pump and treat system and the site would be acceptable for the Ministry to give them a Record of Site Condition allowing them to subdivide the property in order to allow commercial development. To my knowledge Elmira Pump have been jumping through the MOE’s hoops and loops ever since. The Risk Assessment publicly presented by Keith Metzger of Peritus Environmental in May 2016 in Council Chambers, was supposed to be but a few months away from completion and MOE final approval. Still not awarded at the time of publication.

ENDNOTES for Chapter 2

21....Marg Kasten, "Elmira industrialist feels like sitting duck", Kitchener-Waterloo Record,
December 13,1989

22....Catherine Thompson, Phil Jalsevac, "Bradley flayed for leaking Varnicolor raid", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, May 18, 1990

23....Chris Aagaard, "MOE tests second tank from Varnicolor", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, December 5, 1990




Chapter Three:


16 ....The Blame Game

17 ....Environmental Appeal Board

18 ....The Sweetheart Deal

19 ....Public Outrage

20 ....The Public Consultation Scam

22 ....DNAPLS

25 ....CCPA

26 ....The Long Con Continues

27 ....DNAPL Collusion

Chapter 3

The Blame Game

A little over a month after the South Wellfield (E7 & E9) was shut down the MOE issued an Emergency Control Order. They wanted NDMA discharges going to the Elmira Sewage Treatment Plant from Uniroyal to end. These discharges had of course been known since they were first discovered in 1977 and absolutely no action was deemed necessary then or since. Funny how a little public exposure changes government priorities. The idea that Uniroyal NDMA discharges through the Elmira STP and into the “Gig” was O.K. prior to the Elmira Water Crisis but not afterwards can help one understand the subjectivity involved in environmental enforcement. It seems to be similar to the idea of municipal by-laws regarding noise, litter, and odours being attended to only on a complaints driven basis.

The first Environmental Appeal Board (EAB) hearing started in January 1990 after Uniroyal Chemical appealed the Ministry’s Emergency Control Order. The public uproar seemed to have as much to do with downstream users as it did with the limited number of citizens in Elmira drinking contaminated water. All the local media were reporting the news as fast as new information developed and that included NDMA concentrations being found in Kitchener, Brantford, the Grand River, Cayuga, etc. After all this was a first in an Ontario town or city that wasn’t hundreds of miles north and inhabited by native Canadians only. Plus exactly how far had the contamination already spread downstream? At least groundwater could take years to decades to travel hundreds of metres whereas surface water could go a hundred miles in a few days to a week.

The mere fact that within a month Woolwich Township and the Region of Waterloo would be pumping NDMA contaminated well E2 in the North Wellfield to waste (ie. into the Canagagigue Creek) was lost on everybody. Of course they were doing this in order to use Well E2 as an Interceptor Well. It was closest to Uniroyal Chemical and most immediately contaminated after the shutdown of the south wellfield caused more Uniroyal contaminated groundwater to be drawn north-west towards the North Wellfield. Of course that is if you believe that well E2 and some of the other wells hadn’t already been contaminated with NDMA years before. I for one do not believe that. None of that mattered to the MOE who needed to deflect public attention from their own failures.

Then in February 1990 Federal Health officials found NDMA in Sundor fruit juices that were manufactured in St. Jacobs, Ontario. Now this was peculiar. St. Jacobs had their own wells and they were miles south of Elmira’s south wellfield. How exactly did anybody blame this on Uniroyal Chemical unless Sundor were skipping using St. Jacobs water and sneaking into Elmira to use their water. The two St. Jacobs wells were named SJ1 and SJ2 and were located in the north end of St. Jacobs just off of Northside Dr.. They were completed in the Bedrock Aquifer and according to consultants CH2MHILL there were aesthetic quality problems. Presumably prior to this homes and businesses were on their own private, likely shallower wells. SJ1 & 2 were drilled in 1966 under the supervision of the OWRC and put into service in 1972. Sundor actually filed a suit against the Region, the Township and Uniroyal Chemical.

By May 1990 Uniroyal were in full blown spin doctoring and public relations mode. They held a “Briefing for Community Leaders” at the Tien Lee Restaurant in downtown Elmira. They were on offence and they meant to score points just the same as the MOE were desperately trying to do the same. They pointed out that the MOE as well as CEAC (Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee), chaired by Murray Haight a local Biology Professor and resident, had refused them permission to pump their containment wells PW1, PW2 and PW3 installed way back in 1981. They may have inadvertently forgotten to tell the Community Leaders about the good reasons Murray, CEAC and the MOE had for not approving the plan to pump these wells and keep the contaminated groundwater on site.

Very shortly afterwards the Region of Waterloo seeing the upcoming expenses and general lack of honesty and willingness to accept responsibility, filed suit.24 They named Uniroyal Chemical, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Nutrite and Varnicolor Chemical in their suit. The last two surprised more than just a few folks. The Region had hired CH2MHILL to be their principal hydrogeologists and basically took the lead in researching who was to blame as well as the technical characteristics of the Elmira aquifers. CH2MHILL overall did a very good job although they did eventually exonerate both Nutrite and Varnicolor Chemical at least in regards to NDMA contamination. In hindsight it was peculiar that the Region named them both very early on, considerably before CH2MHILL exonerated them.

In July and August 1990 low levels of NDMA were being found in some of the remaining drinking wells in the North Wellfield despite pumping well E2 to waste. On August 28, 1990 and despite the somewhat only semi-relevant EAB hearing already underway, the MOE issued another Control Order. This one was at least more to the point. It was based upon the report of Provincial Officer (& hydrogeologist) Bob Hillier. It had concrete demands in it for some, not all of the necessary work needed on the Uniroyal site. This included excavating RPE 4 & 5, the “Consolidation” pits, on the east side of the site as well as remediation of DNAPLS as a contaminant source. Also hydraulic containment was to be used in order to contain ALL aquifers on the site. Of course Uniroyal appealed this Control Order on September 17, 1990 and it was back to the EAB for a second hearing.

While all this was going on the Region of Waterloo were going great guns in building a water pipeline up from Waterloo to St. Jacobs and Elmira. In hindsight my understanding is that despite St. Jacobs having their own two wells (SJ1 & SJ2), they had been connected via a small pipeline to Elmira which was to supplement their supply when necessary. This would somewhat explain both the Sundor Juice legal matters as well as why the imminent Waterloo pipeline also supplied St. Jacobs as well as Elmira.

By late October 1990 the pipeline had almost been completed which really was astounding considering the distance involved as well as bureaucratic and legal complexities. Nowadays certainly a complicated Environmental Assessment would be the minimum requirement prior to even starting construction. Again I have to speculate that perhaps plans had been on the drawing board prior to the well shutdowns in November 1989.

Environmental Appeal Board

By November 1990 a year after the “Water Crisis” hit Elmira the Environmental Appeal Board had appointed three members to the panel to hear Uniroyal’s appeal of the Ministry’s latest August 28, 1990 Control Order. They were Mary Schwass, Barry Adams and Chairman Knox Henry. Uniroyal were appealing the whole idea that they were solely responsible for the destruction of the Elmira Aquifers as well as the Ministry’s claims that the two east side “Consolidation” pits were leaking into the Municipal Aquifers. This especially rankled Uniroyal as they’d just emptied out sludges and solids in the bottom of their west side operating ponds and supposedly put them into safer and more secure pits on the east side. In fact based upon the 1984 Control Order they’d already spent considerable time and money in a decades overdue clean up of their property.

Everything was conveniently focused on NDMA (n-nitrosodimethylamine). We the public were told that this chemical migrated much faster than other chemicals or solvents in the groundwater hence that was how it got to the south wellfield undetected. This story by the Region, MOE and Uniroyal had a few holes in it. Firstly NDMA was known to be in Uniroyal’s wastewaters by 1977 and in the air by 1979. Didn’t anybody whose responsibility was to the environment, the MOE for example, think to take drinking well samples years earlier? We are to believe that the very first drinking water sampled for NDMA was from the south wellfield in September 1989 and then the results weren’t ready until November 1989.

Secondly by 1989 and likely years sooner there were low levels of various solvents already in the South Wellfield. These included toluene, xylene, styrene, ethylbenzene, and 1, 1, 1 trichloroethane.25 Two of them were attributed to “laboratory artifacts” although in this context (Uniroyal & Varnicolor) I am extremely doubtful. Realize that the two wells had only been there and pumping since 1970 and 1976 respectively. In my opinion some Uniroyal contaminants including NDMA were in the south of Elmira before the south Wellfield was even constructed. There were very high NDMA concentrations found near Oriole Parkway and Arthur St. in 1989 and 1990. While well E7 was around 3-4 parts per billion, these private wells were as high as 40 ppb.

In February/March 1991 CH2MHILL released their 2 Volume Report for the Region of Waterloo. They pointed the finger for NDMA contamination solely at Uniroyal Chemical. They had done an incredible amount of work in record time. Their examination of the history of the Elmira Aquifers, the Elmira Wellfields and of numerous manufacturers as well as other possible NDMA sources was incredible and detailed. One of the most interesting facts for me was that even after the west side ponds (RPW 5, 6, 7, 8) were clay lined in 1970 they still leaked 3,400 litres per day through their bottoms into underlying aquifers and aquitards.26

As previously mentioned there were several local citizens who testified in May 1991 as to the harm done by Uniroyal Chemical over the decades. This included Ken Reger, Susan Rupert and Esther Thur. Brendan Birmingham of the M.O.E. testified in regards to Dioxins on the Uniroyal property and in their products such as Agent Orange. The Dioxins had been found in 1984 at 600 parts per trillion in the former municipal landfill known as M2 now part of Uniroyal’s property. To this day that area has been blatantly ignored by both the MOE and by Uniroyal and their successors. Jeff Merriman of Chemtura often said that if and when they were digging for some other reason such as installing a pipe or a power line and they came across contamination, they would remove it. That was not remotely an acceptable form of remediation for an area of known Dioxin and DNAPL contamination. DNAPLS or Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids are generally but not always chlorinated solvents whose density is greater than 1 thus they do not float on the water table but sink below and through it. Besides very slowly dissolving into groundwater they also can gravity flow with the slope of the surface that they are sitting on particularly if it were a relatively impermeable clay aquitard for example. Uniroyal as well as other local industry dumped their waste products into this area and pretending that hydraulic containment was an adequate solution was nonsense. Even if the free phase DNAPL had all gravity flowed westwards onto the neighbour’s property and thus was no longer present was grossly inadequate. Any DNAPL on either the Nutrite , STP, or Sulco property was not hydraulically contained and would thus add dissolved contaminants to the offsite Elmira Aquifers for either decades or centuries unless they were remediated.

Evidence at the second EAB hearing (Aug.28/90) heard during 1991 was very damning to Uniroyal and also not terribly flattering to the MOE. This was in spite of the fact that it was only the MOE presenting their evidence hence they could omit certain evidence and lean more heavily on that which favoured their case. For example in June 1991 they were able to show the Board that Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLS) were sitting in the sub-surface below the former west side operating lagoons (RPW 5-8). These DNAPLS had been specifically mentioned in the 1990 Control Order and the MOE appropriately wanted them removed as they were such a long term source of contamination to the Aquifers.

While the Appeal Board hearing was underway Uniroyal were still working on aspects of the Control Order that they had not appealed. Thus they applied for and received a Certificate of Approval on August 6, 1991 allowing them to operate deep pumping wells PW1 and PW3. This C. of A. had conditions attached which included discharge limits of treated groundwater to the creek. The idea was to hydraulically contain the site from the rest of the Elmira Aquifers without further poisoning the already grossly contaminated Canagagigue Creek. This was a case of slamming the gate after the horses (NDMA & more) had bolted although in this case there was an almost never ending supply of horses still left to bolt. The discharge criteria were one of the unresolved problems back in 1981-82 when the wells were first drilled. The Board then adjourned the hearings for the summer expressing hope that Uniroyal and the MOE might negotiate and come to some compromises over the summer which would shorten the already lengthy hearings. The Board should have been more careful as to what they wished for.

The Sweetheart Deal

As of this point in time the only party to present their case was the Ontario MOE. Neither Nutrite , Uniroyal, Woolwich Township, the Region of Waterloo, nor APT had presented their evidence. By September the EAB were asking the two parties, MOE and Uniroyal, if they were ready to get back at it and they responded no that they were still in serious discussions and hoped to be able to shorten the hearing as had been requested. On October 7, 1991 Uniroyal Chemical and the Ontario Ministry of Environment inked a private Settlement Agreement between themselves. Keep in mind that while Uniroyal had seen the MOE’s case, the public and the parties had not seen Uniroyal’s. Over the summer the Ontario MOE alone got to see Uniroyal’s cards. It seems in hindsight pretty clear that the MOE were not happy with what Uniroyal had and was willing to make public. They cut a sweetheart deal and worse.

How worse exactly? They and Uniroyal Chemical together, ostensibly regulator enforcing environmental laws versus polluter responsible for destroying the Elmira Aquifers and the Canagagigue Creek through the decades; came to a mutually self-serving deal. They also manipulated the rules in an attempt to shut down the other parties and the entire EAB hearings. By revoking the August 28, 1990 Control Order that was the basis for Uniroyal Chemical’s appeal to the EAB, the MOE claimed that the EAB no longer had jurisdiction.

The idea of revoking the August 1990 Control Order was to stop the hearing in its tracks and prevent the Ministry’s culpability for the disaster to be put on full display by Uniroyal. Can you imagine memos over the decades in regards to the unlined operating lagoons and waste pits? How about documentation that indicated the MOE’s initial satisfaction with putting literally thousands of drums with toxic liquid wastes into the ground? Ongoing, overflowing east side waste pits that flowed westwards, southwards, and even eastwards onto the Stroh farm would certainly cause outrage. How about burying Dioxins in drums on both sides of the creek? Or burning them while they were in the municipal landfill (M2) prior to them owning the former landfill. How about the construction of the east side Stroh Drain (approx. 1985) along with the sub-surface tile diverting contaminated groundwater to discharge farther downstream in the creek? What if the alleged Interceptor Trench on the Uniroyal property was completed and diverting toxic groundwater into the Stroh Drain and through the Martin swimming pond on its’ way to the creek? Uniroyal had the Ontario Ministry of the Environment by the throat. And they were squeezing. The MOE had been assuring both the media and the public for two decades that they were on top of any and all environmental problems at Uniroyal Chemical in Elmira. Love Canal in 1979 in the U.S. had opened a lot of eyes to the dangers of indiscriminate disposal of toxic wastes and human beings sensitivities to them. The MOE had had a decade’s heads up but In fact they were negligent, incompetent, lazy, and corrupt. Not all of them of course, just mostly the ones at the top. On November 4, 1991 the MOE issued a new control order.

Public Outrage

On November 5, 1991 the EAB reconvened. The other parties were outraged and the EAB panel were shocked by the arrogance and obvious collusion on display between the Ministry and the polluter. The private Settlement Agreement of October 7 was to take precedence over the new control order and the other proper and legal parties to the process were being told to pack up and take a hike. Among other bizarre paragraphs in the October 7, 1991 Settlement Agreement was Uniroyal’s clear position in a June 27/91 letter to the MOE as stated in paragraph 1.10 page 2 of the Agreement that they were planning on suing the Ontario government if they lost at the Environmental Appeal Board hearing. This was Uniroyal hardball at its maximum. This was an in your face threat and clear muscle flexing. The MOE had caved. Another paragraph left the option open for Uniroyal to sue “third parties” for contributions to the offsite cleanup. At the minimum Uniroyal and the MOE knew about Nutrite and Varnicolor.

Reaction was immediate and loud. All the parties objected and they were uncharacteristically blunt in their assessment of both Uniroyal and the MOE. They accused those two parties of treating the Board, the process and the other parties with disdain and contempt. The EAB retired to determine whether or not they had jurisdiction to continue or not. The very next day two environmentalists from Dunnville, Ontario, Pat and Chuck Potter, were at the gates of Uniroyal Chemical. Along with APT Environment protesters present, Pat and Chuck padlocked Uniroyal’s gates closed. If Uniroyal were going to lock out the public from the process then the public were at least symbolically going to lock them in.

On November 18, 1991 APT protested at the MOE offices in Hamilton. They demanded and received an audience with the Director of the West-Central Region of the MOE. The MOE were unmoved. They knew that their very existence was hanging by a thread if they couldn’t pull off this coup. They hunkered down and decided to wait it out.

During this month Murray Haight the Chairman of CEAC resigned. Whether or not it was due to the MOE’s obvious misbehaviour and contempt for the EAB process, public consultation, or the environment I have not ascertained. The following month APT members took a walk on the wild side for many of them. They protested at the homes of two Uniroyal executives in Waterloo, Ontario about twelve miles due south. They left a wreath at each of their doors with a note saying “You are responsible”.

It was not a happy Christmas in Elmira for those who understood the enormity of what had occurred. The Board had not made a decision regarding their jurisdiction but at the same time the hearings had not been underway since the previous June.

The privately negotiated October 7, 1991 Settlement Agreement between the MOE and Uniroyal Chemical was the first blatant example of collusion, back room deals and corruption for many APT members. Yes they had heard stories from Richard, Ted and I in regards to the incompetence and dishonesty of the Ministry in regards to Varnicolor Chemical but perhaps they hoped that the bigger environmental story at Uniroyal with both local and national media would keep the Ministry honest. It did not. I believe that APT did the right things in supporting the padlocking of Uniroyal’s gates, protesting at the Ministry offices in Hamilton, and taking the walking protest to the homes of Wally Ruck and David Ash in Waterloo. Those three actions were intended to send the message that citizens were not going to back off just because our allegedly responsible and in charge authorities were in the “Let’s make a deal” mode. Citizens, not bureaucrats nor politicians, were in the front lines regarding suffering from the results of toxic air, water and soil.

At the end of the following month in January 1992, citizens did get some good news. The long awaited hydraulic containment of the Municipal Aquifers began. It was however, in hindsight, typical of the complete “cleanup” promised for this site in that it was totally inadequate and totally minimal. Uniroyal and their consultants had two wells pumping namely PW1 in the north-west and PW3 in the south-east. Unsurprisingly the most heavily contaminated areas in the south-west corner of the site continued leaking off-site as they had been doing for the previous fifty years.

On January 16, 1992 Uniroyal held their second Briefing for Community Leaders. Again there was some “preaching to the choir” as most of these Community Leaders were Uniroyal’s kind of people . That would be those with vested interests in keeping everything low key and focusing always on the positives. Mayor Bob waters among others had great concerns that the “Water Crisis” could negatively affect things like the Maple Syrup Festival, downtown business and so forth. This was not necessarily a bad thing in that as Mayor he did have to provide an even keel and not let this man-made disaster define Elmira for ever after. To a certain extent he and his colleagues did too good of a job. After all somewhere in the mix needed to be an appreciation for the permanent damage that had been done to both the environment and to the health of Woolwich residents. There was little or none.

The Public Consultation Scam

Both the MOE and Uniroyal Chemical knew that they desperately needed to give the impression to the public that they would be forthcoming and honest regarding the steps needed to fix that which they bilaterally had made a mess of. There had been warnings over the years as were described in Chapter One. There had been fourty years of environmental degradation due to greed, incompetence, laziness, and a complete lack of honest and diligent oversight from the authorities whether health departments, federal and provincial environment ministries or departments, and from local and regional councillors. Everybody was so enamoured with the joys of jobs and taxes that they were wilfully blind to the huge issues accompanying Uniroyal Chemical. To say that a chemical company carries a lot of baggage is a huge understatement. This company carried more than most in that they were confident to the point of arrogance regarding their operations. Any voice or complaint raised was almost considered unpatriotic around town.

The Uniroyal Public Advisory Committee (UPAC) was the solution for Uniroyal and the MOE. Sure they knew that they had a lot of work ahead of them but they were confident that they could manipulate the same citizens that they’d been successfully stringing along for decades. Open up the Committee to APT plus a couple of other well meaning folks but at the same time always maintain a majority of people or groups on it that could be counted on to strongly serve the status quo. The Chamber of Commerce was a good start along with a few sitting councillors who were known to be friendly to Uniroyal. Quentin Martin, Grace Sudden and Ruby Weber representing the Township would do the job. Throw in the Region of Waterloo, Grand River Conservation Authority, the Waterloo District School Board, and you’ve definitely got enough voting members to keep any wild eyed radicals from APT under control. To a certain extent anybody blatantly supporting Uniroyal did have to be careful. After all the drinking wells were shut down and Uniroyal had assumed full ownership as to being the only source of NDMA at least. In fact there were now no longer any allegations from anybody including Uniroyal that others may have been part of the “Water Crisis”. At least for many more years anyways that was the case and even then it was kept low key. Therefore Uniroyal’s supporters on Council and on UPAC spoke carefully. They professed to want to find the best way to clean up the Aquifers as well as the site itself.

Susan Rupert, the original APT Coordinator and spokesperson was appropriately skeptical. This may have been due to her and Sandra Bray’s short time as members of CEAC, the Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee. This had been a committee of Woolwich Council and she and Sandra had issues with certain confidentiality requirements. They felt that Elmira and Woolwich citizens needed to know more than the committee were allowed to distribute to the public. From my own standpoint of having been a formal member of UPAC and CPAC for a total of ten years I can understand Susan’s concerns. Once UPAC was dragged into being a committee of Woolwich Council there was a slow erosion of their independence and forthrightness to the public. Unfortunately Susan Rupert was a voice in the wilderness.

APT members had made her their spokesperson for good reason. She was passionate, articulate and not remotely intimidated by either “suits” or other self professed experts. She was willing to spell it out to whoever objected to her or APT’s position as to why she felt a particular issue needed addressing. If she felt that a proposal by the company was nonsensical she would word it as such and then ask them to please help her understand what she must be missing in their previous explanation. Despite this other coordinators pushed very hard to get APT to join UPAC. One former APT coordinator has stated that he was also against APT joining UPAC. His logic was that after two years APT had taken both Uniroyal and the Ontario MOE’s measure and found them wanting. Their word was not good. Also if you lie down with fleas you will get fleas. Richard Clausi saw absolutely no good that would come out of APT joining forces with unspecified other parties simply to lend their credibility to two parties with zero credibility. Richard has advised that the two APT coordinators pushing the hardest to get APT to join UPAC were Sylvia Berg and Susan Bryant. Susan Rupert indicated that her recollection was that Sylvia Berg was certainly pushing hard for APT to join UPAC whereas Susan Bryant she was less certain of. Susan Rupert knew that APT would be intentionally drowned out if they participated in a forum encompassing all kinds of other groups with other agendas or possibly with only one and that was to defend Uniroyal Chemical. APT was getting their message out to the public very nicely without joining forces with disparate groups with different axes to grind. Susan was also concerned with the request that these meetings be held in private much as CEAC had been. In hindsight this demand from the Ministry of Environment seemed counter-productive. It was Barb Trebilcock of the MOE to whom Susan Rupert was speaking. It was also Barb Trebilcock who pushed Susan Rupert to take the Ministry’s offer back to APT for their input. This ridiculous and patently undemocratic demand had been turned down outright by Susan Rupert. She knew that APT had been founded by her, Esther Thur, and Sandra Bray on the basis of full public disclosure. She felt there wasn’t a chance nor should there be that APT would even remotely consider the MOE’s offer. It seemed somehow that Barb Trebilcock had figured out ahead of time that APT were about to change course dramatically. Could some private phone calls have been made by Barb beforehand and if so to whom?

By August 1991 Susan Rupert had departed Elmira for Waterloo. This had to be a huge upheaval for her and her two children. It seemed peculiar at the time but I believe that both lawyer and mayor Bob Waters assisted in Susan’s moving as well as a local real estate firm helped her sell her home quickly. This could have been either respect or common decency for Susan’s contributions to the community or it could even be sadly interpreted as certain local powers assisting in the departure of a talented and effective citizen activist. Imagine Susan Rupert’s surprise to learn that when UPAC began in 1992 that all the meetings were open to both the public and the media. What exactly had the MOE been doing with their previous demands of closed meetings? They had advised Susan Rupert that Uniroyal were insisting on that condition which had made Susan’s decision very easy. Was somebody lying here to Susan and if so whom?

APT’s first campaign was against what they called Uniroyal’s Pump & Dump system. Yes they recognized that the groundwater which Uniroyal started pumping from the municipal aquifer in January 1992 was undergoing treatment prior to discharge to the “Gig”. The problem was how much treatment and the discharge criteria. Keep in mind that this hydraulic containment consisted of at first only two wells in the municipal aquifer pumping out contaminated deep groundwater , treating it down to certain predetermined concentrations and then discharging it into the already grossly contaminated “Gig”. The more highly contaminated shallow or upper aquifer kept on discharging its highly contaminated groundwater to the creek while at the same time the treated municipal aquifer groundwater was being discharged there as well. Also it’s not as if any of these discharge criteria were zero. Some concentrations were very low. Sometimes chemicals would be discharged to the creek at concentrations below the Detection Limits. Other chemicals however could have discharge criteria of 2 or 5 parts per billion and thus could be discharged up to those limits. The problem was that there was no scientific knowledge that could claim with certainty that discharging a half dozen toxic chemicals below either their Ontario Drinking Water Standards (ODWS) or Provincial Water Quality Objectives (PWQO) was safe. Imagine when there were 100 different chemicals in the groundwater undergoing treatment and then being discharged. Local citizens, APT members, and downstream users were unimpressed with this plan.

They had reason to be because in fact it wasn’t remotely hydraulically containing the Uniroyal property. The only reason that the discharge criteria were capable of being met at the start of municipal aquifer pumping in January 1992 was because only PW1 in the north-west and PW3 in the south-east were pumping. That was inadequate and Uniroyal and the MOE tacitly knew it. They soon quietly added pumping well PW4 in the heart of the groundwater contamination in their south-west area in order to slow the ongoing migration of grossly contaminated groundwater off-site. Generally opposition faded several years later as the shallow aquifer was finally partially hydraulically contained in 1997 and the worst groundwater that naturally discharged to the creek was treated prior to its discharge. Although that in itself was also very problematic at the time as we’ll discuss later on.

On February 5, 1992 the Decision from the first Environmental Appeal Board was finally made public. Do recall that the second Appeal to the EAB had already been started, testimony given and then the whole thing shut down by the MOE /Uniroyal Chemical sweetheart deal of October 7, 1991. For the first appeal and hearing the Board had decided that the discharge criteria from Uniroyal’s wastewater treatment plant into the Elmira Sewage Treatment Plant could not exceed 200 parts per trillion (ppt). of NDMA. Uniroyal had been suggesting that 500 ppt. was a more appropriate discharge level. The MOE, the EAB, and the Region and Township all hoped that after time in the Elmira STP that Uniroyal’s outgoing concentration of NDMA would be much lower yet. I recall hearing the news with many other APT members and kind of thinking “What’s the big deal?” To me this didn’t seem to be as big a victory as some seemed to think it was. The drinking water standard was 9 parts per trillion and I saw this belated Decision and discharge criteria as being a compromise giving a break to the polluter whom I had as yet seen no reason whatsoever to be deserving of .

The EAB took months to determine whether or not they still had jurisdiction over Uniroyal’s appeal to them of the now rescinded August 1990 Control Order. Rescinded that is in mid appeal. What an incredible way for two guilty parties to walk on the public consequences of their decade’s long mismanagement and negligence. The EAB essentially threw the ball back into the hands of the other parties to the hearing namely Nutrite, the Region, the Township, and APT Environment. The EAB stated that if any party stepped forward and indicated they wanted to keep going then they the Board would support that. Nobody stepped up. Nutrite were thrilled not to have had their dirty linen aired publicly. That would take another eight years plus another control order to do that. The Region, Township, and APT all said thanks but no thanks. The Region and Woolwich Township eventually obtained cheques from Uniroyal to cover their “Water Crisis” costs and that seemed to satisfy them. I never did fully understand why APT didn’t want to proceed. Possibly personal time commitments were one of the factors. Personally I would have loved to have seen Uniroyal’s dirt on the Ontario MOE displayed in public. It could have resulted in a public inquiry or worse for them. It also could have given them a housecleaning and a different attitude in dealing with Uniroyal in the ensuing 26 years.

In March 1992 Uniroyal managed to spill approximately 1000 gallons of waste water plus ammonia into the Creek (“Gig”). I expect that but for the scrutiny they were under since November 1989 the public would never even have heard of it. This for far too many decades was likely simply seen as the cost of doing business. The MOE did charge them for this environmental offence and in fact in November of this year Uniroyal pled guilty to the discharge of waste water containing Ammonia and NDMA to the Creek (“Gig”) and were fined $16,000.

In April 1992 Uniroyal’s Public Relations campaign took a major hit. CBC television and their program “The Nature of Things” narrated by David Suzuki spoke to the Elmira Water Crisis. As was to be expected under the circumstances and with the facts available at the time, the program was highly critical of Uniroyal Chemical and their behaviour both prior to November 1989 and since. What the public were not advised of and what has been demonstrated as well since, was Uniroyal’s aggressive stance towards their detractors and critics. They were in communications with CBC TV prior to the airing of the Elmira program and they made it clear to them that legal action was part of their arsenal if Mr. Suzuki took any liberties in their opinion with his presentation of events and or facts they disputed. In hindsight we and Mr. Suzuki only knew the bare bones of the extent of contamination, the extent of efforts to deflect the public away from the truth and of the sometimes cozy relationship between the Ontario Ministry of Environment and major air and groundwater polluters whether multi- billion dollar, multi nationals or like Varnicolor Chemical who were simply multi-million dollar, single locations.


There had been DNAPL (Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids) investigations and reports back in the early and mid 1980s conducted by Morrison-Beatty on behalf of Uniroyal Chemical. That DNAPLS were present en masse in and under the Uniroyal Chemical Elmira site was never in dispute with honest parties and sometimes even less honest parties. That did not however stop Uniroyal and their consultants from gilding the lily as liberally as they thought they could get away with. To this day the DNAPL cover up is almost second to none. Yes they did one hell of a job literally for many decades in hiding and minimizing the extent of permanent damage to the “Gig” from their discharges of POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants). Even now it is unlikely that they will do even 5% of the cleanup necessary in the creek to remove Dioxins/Furans, DDT, Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons, PCBs, Mercury, and so much more.

Part of any good cover-up relates to changing the focus of the message. They therefore went into long and convoluted debates about the differences between Free Phase DNAPLs and Residual DNAPLs. Free Phase refers to the liquid, non dissolved in water, phase of the usually chlorinated solvent such as chlorobenzene. Free phase DNAPLS could move both vertically and horizontally through the sub-surface via gravity. They would then collect in low lying areas or depressions as puddles or pools. Often these depressions that they collected in would be on the surface of aquitards which are the much less permeable to both groundwater and solvents, layers of clay and or silts. The more permeable sands and gravels in which groundwater more readily flowed are known as aquifers. Sometimes aquifers would have small areas of silts and even clays in them which could also contain free phase DNAPLS. Free phase DNAPLS are the bane of remediation experts and of municipal drinking water systems in industrialized towns and cities across North America. To this day, Trichloroethylene (TCE) is still routinely detected in the drinking water systems of both Cambridge and Waterloo, Ontario albeit at below drinking water standards via dilution and or treatment. The problem is that Free Phase DNAPLs represent a huge, long term source of groundwater contamination because they dissolve so slowly although nevertheless often contaminating groundwater above the drinking standards . The long term aspect depends on the volume of Free Phase DNAPLs in the sub-surface but many decades to centuries of time are needed to finally remove them.

Residual DNAPLS may be thought of as the “tails” of a passing volume of Free Phase DNAPLs after the DNAPL has continued moving either vertically or horizontally below ground. Residual DNAPLS are the same chemical components of the earlier passing Free Phase DNAPLS but instead of pooling together they are spread out and are occupying tiny pore spaces between the grains of sand or gravel. They may also contaminate groundwater at above drinking water standards but because of their much smaller volume and greater distance between the droplets they will dissolve in groundwater much more quickly than the “pooled” Free Phase DNAPLs. Conestoga Rovers on behalf of Uniroyal often suggested that the Elmira site only had Residual DNAPLS not Free Phase. This was outright rubbish and has been proven false on a number of occasions over the decades when either by intent or chance they bumped into more Free Phase DNAPLs.

After Rich Clausi, Ted Oldfield, and I kicked the daylights out of the credibility of Varnicolor Chemical and the Ontario MOE I decided to join APT at the Uniroyal Public Advisory Committee (UPAC) table. In those heady, early days we still had Uniroyal and the MOE on the run. Or at least they were on the defensive although we still didn’t know the extent of their perfidy, gamesmanship, collusion, and just plain dishonesty. More decades were to pass before all that became even clearer than it already was. One of my first tasks as an APT member was to read and understand the DNAPL reports being presented by Brian Beatty of Morrison-Beatty originally, later of Dames & Moore, consultants to Uniroyal Chemical. Morrison-Beatty had been working for Uniroyal for years and had not only researched, investigated, and written reports but they also testified at the Environmental Appeal Board hearings on Uniroyal’s behalf. Not all their testimony was well received including claims that the groundwater under Uniroyal flowed westwards due to the influence of the two well fields namely the North and South Well fields. This testimony would have been better received if Mr. Beatty hadn’t claimed that the Municipal Aquifer groundwater flowed west where due to the conflicting pulling of the North and South Well fields, the water essentially did not move, as if in a state of limbo. Whether it was my knowledge of his testimony at the EAB or not, I was somewhat immediately skeptical of his most recent DNAPL Report presented to UPAC in September 1992.

This DNAPL report, in my opinion and others, minimized the presence of DNAPLs on the Uniroyal site. Yes he listed various criteria and observations that purportedly could indicate the likelihood as to whether or not DNAPLS were indeed present in the sub-surface. One of these was a reference to a report written by a well known hydrogeologist by the name of Stan Feenstra. The quote taken from Mr. Feenstra appeared to indicate that there was a rule known as the 10% Solubility Rule. This rule suggested that anytime a chlorinated solvent or other well known DNAPL chemical was detected in a groundwater sample at or greater than 10% of its solubility in water; then it was very likely that the chemical existed in the sub-surface as an undissolved DNAPL, whether free phase or residual. There were many other problems with Mr. Beatty’s report but this is the one that got him into trouble. I decided to do a little checking.

Back in 1992 the Internet was not a household fixture. Yes I had worked as a computer operator at Dominion Life Assurance Company prior to attending University (1971-74) but I certainly didn’t have a home computer. Google wasn’t in my vocabulary so off I went to the University of Waterloo to do a little fact checking if you will. Well! I had already been exposed to blatant lying by the MOE in regards to Varnicolor Chemical hence I think it’s fair to say that I wasn’t terribly naïve. What I found after reading Stan Feenstra’s report however was a whole new level of deception by an allegedly professional consultant . Mr. Beatty had provided a one or two sentence quote from Mr. Feenstra’s report which indeed I found. The problem was that while this sentence or two did say to the effect that at one time hydrogeologists had supported the 10% Solubility Rule, it then went on to say that knowledgeable hydrogeologists today did not! Mr. Feenstra went on to clearly advise that the 10% Solubuility Rule was outdated and that a 1% Solubility Rule had been accepted and was in practice. Therefore any chlorinated solvent that was detected in groundwater with even only a concentration of 1% of its solubility was a very strong indication that DNAPLs were present. Bluntly put if this wasn’t an example of taking a quote out of context for the purpose of deceiving a public advisory committee as well as the general public, then I don’t know what is. By misleading UPAC, the MOE, and the media present at this public meeting, it certainly appeared that Mr. Beatty was attempting to greatly minimize the presence of DNAPLs in the sub-surface at the Uniroyal site.

I managed to dig up a phone number for Mr. Feenstra after being advised that he was working in Mississauga, Ontario. I phoned him, introduced myself and advised him that I believed his report was being quoted out of context for improper purposes. I read to him a few sentences of Mr. Beatty’s report. Mr. Feenstra quite properly advised me that before he would put anything in writing in an attempt to correct the situation that he needed to see more of Mr. Beatty’s report. I promised to either mail or fax him the cover page, date, title etc. as well as several pages surrounding the controversial comments and quote taken out of context. This I did and very shortly Mr. Feenstra sent me a two page letter in which he clearly indicated his displeasure with his work being so taken out of context. That letter I of course sent to APT members first and then took copies with me to the next UPAC meeting. Basically this one gross deception alone by Uniroyal’s consultants appropriately damaged and called into credibility the entire report.

According to Dr. David Ash of Uniroyal Chemical, Mr. Beatty and his company shortly afterwards were “consolidated”. That was Mr. Ash’s wording and I immediately believed that that was diplomatic speak for “fired”. Dr. Ash would not use that word but the implications were clear. From that point onwards Conestoga Rovers & Associates were Uniroyal’s primary consultants and Dames & Moore was gone. As a small aside Mr. Beatty was quite protective of his reputation and a few short years later I was advised by the new Woolwich Observer that their reporting of this incident earned them a threat of a libel lawsuit from Mr. Beatty. I was asked by the Observer to provide back up for my story about Mr. Beatty being “consolidated” which I did to the best of my abilities. Certainly APT members as well as UPAC members were all present and received copies of Mr. Feenstra’s rather clear letter. APT even presented me with a small award which was a document with a magazine ad from the Canadian Chemical Producers Association (CCPA) about chlorinated solvents (DNAPLs). This ad had a picture of three people with each covering either their eyes, ears, or mouth and there were individually hand written on them the names of D. Ash, S.Quigley of CRA and B. Beatty. It stated at the top in bold letters “If This Is The Response You Get To Your Questions About Chlorinated Solvents…” Handwritten below that and the picture were the words “Just call Alan Marshall”. Below that also in handwriting it stated “Thank You, Alan, for taking them on…and winning.” To this day I still have that award and treasure it. It was signed by Sylvia Berg, Susan Bryant, Glenys McMullen, Mary Ragula, Darrol Bryant, Barb Smith and Steve Brown. Over the intervening years the Observer would question my credibility over this matter as apparently they had either apologized or been forced to write some sort of retraction by Mr. Beatty’s lawyers. Very odd and I sometimes wonder to this day if their lack of coverage of the Chemtura/Lanxess ongoing story is a result of libel chill.

The headline of a story in the September 22, 1992 K-W Record was “Ministry misled, Elmira group says”. In that story my position was supported by Susan and Darrol Bryant, Wilf Ruland, and Jaimie Umpleby of the Region of Waterloo.27 This position was that Brian Beatty had taken a couple of sentences of Stan Feenstra’s DNAPL report out of context and the effect was to minimize or hide the quantity of DNAPLs on the Uniroyal site. A month later (October 15/92) a Bob Burtt headline in the Record stated that “Uniroyal may face charges in cleanup”. The article described how both APT and the Region of Waterloo were upset with Dames & Moore’s (Brian Beatty) DNAPL report and how Dave Ireland of the MOE suggested that charges might be filed against Uniroyal specifically because of this same DNAPL report being incomplete and misleading.28

Frank Rovers of Conestoga Rovers spoke to the UPAC committee about DNAPLS in very late November 1992. He stated that they were ubiquitous throughout the site and stated that they could never all be found or removed. His further position was that looking for or chasing them was nothing but a waste of money. These opinions which certainly seemed aimed at saving his client hundreds of millions of dollars did not go down well with Wilf Ruland (on behalf of APT), Dave Belanger (on behalf of the Region) and Bob Hillier hydrogeologist (Min. of Environment). Wilf, Dave and Bob felt that a carte blanche avoiding or ignoring DNAPLS in the sub-surface was unjustified and dangerous in the long run. Bob Burtt wrote an article about these debates in the December 1, 1992 Record29. A follow up article appeared in the December 11/92 Record in which Susan Bryant of APT was quoted as saying “DNAPL is the most serious environmental problem at Uniroyal."30 Strangely a mere twelve and a half months later another APT member (Vice-President Sylvia Berg) was defending her do nothing actions in regards to the Ontario MOE rolling over on the entire DNAPL problems. Dave Ireland of the MOE, at the same UPAC meeting, advised that DNAPLs had been found in both the Upper Aquifer as well as the Municipal Aquifer on the Uniroyal Chemical site in Elmira.

The Record as well as the Elmira Independent were certainly hot on the trail of both the MOE and Uniroyal in those days. They smelled and saw inexplicable behaviour and actions being masked behind consultants reports and or the Ministry running interference for and allowing unconscionable time delays at every opportunity. Early in the New Year (1993) the Record carried another story in which the MOE advised that Uniroyal were out of compliance with their Control Order as they had failed to submit a proper and complete DNAPL report on time. Of course Uniroyal protested stating that they were involved in multiple discussions with multiple partners in trying to determine the best route forward. Frank Rovers on behalf of Uniroyal also stated that someday in the future DNAPL cleanup might be possible.

That possibility wasn’t as far down the road as Mr. Rovers was possibly thinking. The strong position of Dr. John Cherry and Dr. Beth Parker was presented to Susan Bryant, Pat Mclean, myself and Wilf Ruland at a meeting in the professors'offices in January 2007. The two Profs made it very clear that DNAPL cleanup was both technically feasible and long recognized as being necessary to every extent possible. Pat McLean and Susan Bryant successfully made every effort possible never to raise this meeting and the conclusions of two of the world’s most preeminent hydrogeologists at what by then (2007) was known as CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee).

This was by no means the end of the DNAPL cover ups in Elmira. The technical evidence was far too overwhelming and too many parties knew that CRA and Uniroyal were not being forthcoming. This included the Region of Waterloo and the MOE but as we eventually learned all politicians have their price and the truth is always the first victim. Politicians on behalf of their constituencies are routinely bought off and they salve their consciences when lying to the public by believing that the end justifies the means. The means of course are by lying to the people they are representing. By the end of 1993 the Ontario Ministry of Environment had rolled over yet again. The Region followed shortly before. Both parties were bought off through private negotiations kept secret from the unwashed masses. This is called democracy according to its practitioners. The DNAPL cover ups continued well into 2009 albeit with more investigations and with some notable individuals standing up to be counted. Once again however key documents handed along to those in charge were not distributed to all the appropriate parties, intentionally. I mean really if one of your technical persons decides to do the right thing and puts it in writing then you must abuse your key position by ensuring that their information harmful to your position and interests cannot be used against your arguments. So simply file it . We will discuss these further DNAPL matters later on.


The Canadian Chemical Producers Association (CCPA) is a lobby group dedicated to improving the environmental performance of their membership. At least that is their stated purpose. I believe that some of their members have been inspired to actually improve their day to day operations in order to have less negative effects upon both the natural environment as well as upon human health. I also believe that many others are under their umbrella simply to enjoy the shade. In other words to avoid the glaring scrutiny and accountability of either the public or of government regulators. Two CCPA members stand out in Elmira, Ontario. One example of a sincere corporation trying their best to manufacture their chemical products responsibly and in as environmentally friendly manner as possible would be the former Sulco now known as Canada Colours. On the flip side of the coin we have had nothing but delay, disinformation, denial, and minimization of the environmental problems from Uniroyal Chemical and their successors.

The CCPA appoint private citizens to what they call their National Advisory Panel. This Panel meet regularly around North America to discuss suggestions and improvements that will make the CCPA more accountable as well as more responsive to public concerns. Again some of the members of this Panel are industry shills whereas others are appointed because of their serious environmental credentials. Two members that I know who have stood out positively would be Pat Potter of Dunnville, Ontario back in the 1990s and the other was Dr. Gail Krantzberg from McMaster University in Hamilton.

On January 25, 1993 the Elmira Independent published the full text of a news release by Pollution Probe out of Toronto. Ellen Schwartzel was a researcher at Pollution Probe and she and Pat Potter attempted to get the CCPA to suspend or expel corporate members including Uniroyal, convicted of breaking environmental laws. Their news release indicated that the CCPA were spending large amounts of money on full page newspaper ads (eg. Globe & Mail) extolling the virtues of their members commitment to *Responsible Care. *Responsible Care was the written system in place which CCPA members were supposed to be using to ethically and responsibly run their chemical manufacturing businesses. The news release listed thirteen CCPA member companies who have been charged and convicted for environmental offences in just the last few years in Ontario alone. Some of these companies included Dow, Du Pont, Polysar, Cyanamid, Novacor, Shell, and of course our favourite, Uniroyal Chemical in Elmira.31

The point that Ms. Schwartzel and Pat Potter were making is that the CCPA needs to be more than a PR and cheerleading brigade for Canadian and Ontario polluters. You can imagine Pat’s disgust when she found out later in 1993 that Sylvia Berg, on behalf of APT, had sent a letter to the CCPA praising Uniroyal for their behaviour here in Elmira. Pat learned of this letter from the CCPA not from any other APT members. The CCPA had responded to Pat’s criticism and demands to expel Uniroyal by advising her that the Vice-President of APT had sent them a letter in support of Uniroyal’s efforts in Elmira. Wow! Keep in mind that two close colleagues and friends of mine, Esther Thur and Rich Clausi were both on APT’s coordinating committee as of course was Sylvia. Sylvia absolutely had not run her letter by either the APT coordinating committee (in full) nor by the general membership. When later confronted by Rich Clausi, Sylvia suggested that she thought it was better not to be negative all the time towards Uniroyal and to give them some encouragement. This occurred in January 1994 when Pat Potter learned of our difficulties over DNAPLs with Sylvia and advised Richard of Sylvia’s earlier behaviour. While I do not have evidence of any other APT members or coordinators being in the know when Sylvia sent her grossly inappropriate letter to the CCPA, I suspect that at least one other, possibly two, knew about it and said nothing to the rest of APT. Again, to my shame, in hindsight, I like other APT members did not want to believe that Sylvia Berg was intentionally undermining Elmira citizens in their fight with Uniroyal and the Ministry of Environment. I guess I also did not want to confront the fact that an APT member was either co-opted or that APT had been infiltrated by a Uniroyal Chemical supporter.

It took decades before I began to understand the complexities and manipulation necessary for successful control freaks to get their way in large groups. Simple lying alone would never do. Key secret supporters need to be in position to support the gamesmanship and deception. False flags and public statements are helpful in throwing off the scent of betrayal. Private communications with expectations that the rest of your group that you are betraying will never see them are required. An emphasis on personal friendships and trust will insulate co-opted individuals from suspicion. A willingness to deceive and lie over a very long time frame is imperative. Never admitting, even when you are caught, that this behaviour is the norm, versus an aberration, is necessary. While I am no psychologist it takes some kind of a broken person, some kind of a sociopath to behave this way. What I have learned is that while psychopaths thank God are rare, sociopaths are all around us. They are self-centred, they are self-serving, they are narcissistic and have huge egos and they have no shame whatsoever. And lastly they are sometimes found and used by others more powerful and more broken than they are, to pursue their own ends.

The CCPA eventually morphed into the Chemical Industry Association of Canada (CIAC). They continued to be avid supporters of Canadian chemical manufacturers, regardless of their true commitment to the environment. The CIAC in later years advised CPAC (first Crompton then Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) members that they would rather have a problematic Uniroyal/Crompton, Chemtura, and eventually Lanxess under their umbrella than not. Similar to Sylvia Berg they professed that it was better to encourage the company rather than take sanctions against them or publicly condemn them for their failures. In much later years we learned that the CIAC had sitting CPAC members on their National Advisory Panel. These appointments also were not shared by anyone with the rest of the voting CPAC members at the time, including myself. If I had known I would have raised a major stink firstly about the secrecy and secondly about the conflict of interest. When Woolwich Township were advised in writing in the spring of 2017, in detail and with multiple witness statements, they ignored and swept the information under the carpet. This intentional corruption of public participation and public consultation will be discussed at length in a later chapter. There were inducements, benefits, and gratuities involved in both this case and another in which a sitting CPAC and later TAG member was involved. Again Woolwich Township turned a blind eye.

The Long Con Continues

1993 was an important if not crucial year. The phony DNAPL Report by Brian Beatty had been publicly exposed and the Ministry decided that they still had years of skullduggery and public deception ahead of them before they could go back to brazenly ignoring public input. They and their fellow travelers understood that as long as the public, the media, and APT members in general were watching closely that they had to play the game carefully. For my part I was still naïve despite everything that had happened. Every victory and every exposure of the lying and deceit of the MOE and Uniroyal had me thinking that we’d broken their backs. Surely they wouldn’t keep coming back for more. Surely they’d learned their lesson? Absolutely not. Manipulating and lying to the public was not a short term game for amateurs. Politicians have been doing it for centuries so why should little things like democracy, higher education of the populace, and greater media coverage stop them now?

On February 24, 1993 there was a public meeting held in the Elmira Community Centre. The two items discussed were the Alternative Water Supply and the Remediation of the Elmira Aquifers. These were part and parcel of regaining public trust and of getting the public onside for the ongoing private negotiating going on between the Ministry, Uniroyal, and the Region of Waterloo. After all, the shutting down of the Environmental Appeal Board hearings had left both the Region and the Township in a state of limbo. Was difficult court action against a multi-national, multi-billion dollar company the only way to go? Uniroyal had settled with the MOE on very favourable terms to themselves. Negotiations were difficult but as long as the Township and Region were willing to settle for their financial losses accrued over the previous three years directly dealing with the water shutdowns then a deal was possible. If however those two parties decided to get uppity and start insisting upon things like a real cleanup of the Uniroyal site then they were going to wait a very long time before they saw a nickel of what they had already spent on water testing, consultants, water pipelines, legal fees, and the Environmental Appeal Board hearings. Cheques were cut and deals were made. The Region signed formal deals jointly with Uniroyal Chemical and the MOE as well as a separate deal with the MOE. The Township received a cheque and mayor Bob Waters pronounced himself satisfied. Of course the public as always were excluded. There was no comprehensive plan or settlement that insisted upon source removal of buried toxins either on or off the Uniroyal site. The three levels of government all declared themselves happy and the public were not only left holding the bag in regards to health injuries but also in regards to environmental scars that would never be healed. To this day in mid 2018 the Creek is still grossly contaminated with Persistent Organic Pollutants, people are dead and dying from both air and water pollution locally and our Elmira Aquifers are not much closer to being restored than they were in 1993 when we were promised they’d be ready to go in 30 years. Turns out that date of 2023 was pushed back to 2028 as the offsite pumping didn’t start until 1998. Since then we’ve been advised by more honest experts that 2050 at the earliest may be the date that our local aquifers will be back in business.

In April of 1993 Uniroyal appealed a Ministry directive yet again. But then why wouldn’t they. Every time they did they gained either concessions or a sweetheart deal. This appeal was over the MOE’s Certificate of Approval regarding Uniroyal’s proposed Upper Aquifer Containment & Treatment System. Uniroyal felt that the MOE’s terms were too onerous: read expensive.

The MOE played a little tit for tat and charged both Uniroyal and David Ash on June 8/93 for failure to do ordered MISA tests. MISA stood for Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement and was concerned with storm water drains from the Uniroyal site discharging untreated into the Canagagigue Creek. It seems that unfortunately these drains had underground piping which was being infiltrated by contaminated groundwater. Oops! Everything from solvents, lindane, 2, 4-D and some Dioxins were being discharged into the “Gig” from the Uniroyal site. These MISA issues were discussed and debated for months at UPAC and typical of Uniroyal they would argue on one hand that many of their compounds were hydrophobic and couldn’t be dissolved in groundwater but on the other hand deny that underground pipes discharging these hydrophobic compounds were picking them up from the groundwater. To mollify UPAC members they did agree to epoxy various underground joints and in-ground catch basins to prevent groundwater infiltration. When pressed they would either blame up gradient railroad tracks or even air deposition of these toxic chemicals that they themselves used or produced. It was always somebody else’s fault.

On September 7, 1993 excavations began on the “Consolidation” pits, RPE 4 & 5 on the east side of the Uniroyal site. Uniroyal had built what they referred to as the “Envirodome” on the north-east corner of their site. It was into this building that 46,000 tonnes of toxic sludges, solids and drums were transferred. Much of the contents of the west side ponds (RPW 3-8) had but a few short years earlier been consolidated into these two east side pits. Also the contents of some of the other east side pits were put into these two larger pits. These pits had been covered over first with a little bit of ground and then plastic, allegedly to prevent rainfall from entering the pits and filling them like an overflowing bathtub. To this day the Envirodome is still there and could have been used to store so much more toxic waste that has stayed in the ground unnecessarily and inappropriately since the building was emptied over the summer of 1999. UPAC and CPAC over the years have through research long identified the various “hot spots” that require remediation and or excavation. The company and MOE have always had a plethora of excuses to justify their non-action on most of these spots.

History has also been unkind to the calibre and quality of these so called professional excavations on both sides of the creek done in the mid to late 1980s. Free phase DNAPLS and more have been found in different locations since, including at TPW-2 (west side) and RPE-1 and 3 on the east side. Hindsight and experience has taught me that any “cleanup” done out of public sight and public supervision is suspect. If the MOE claim that they alone supervised the cleanup, then this goes double.

These concerns have only been exacerbated by the hilarious descriptions given to CPAC during their last term (2010-2015) by Jeff Merriman, Chemtura’s environmental engineer. These were descriptions of the scientific, authoritative, and highly technical determinations regarding remaining contamination in the sub-surface after on-site “cleanups.” We at CPAC dubbed them Jeff’s magic nose and eyes. They were entirely based upon visual and olfactory examinations of the ground. Allegedly when he and or his colleagues couldn’t see or smell contamination then everything was just fine. If you think that this sounds beyond ridiculous than you are right. Compound it when you understand that many Uniroyal/Chemtura employees had long since lost any ability to smell chemicals after years of being immersed in them on a daily basis.

It is likely that this even explains the need for supplementary excavations decades later in the area known as GP1 (Gravel Pit 1). The initial excavations took place in 2013 and went down approximately eight feet in some places. The following summer, test results determined that three more areas within GP1 needed further excavation. It certainly appears that they shut down the initial excavations based upon Jeff’s magic nose and eyes only to look at the completed lab analyses months later.

The excavations of RPE 4 & 5 did not occur without incident. We had been advised ahead of time that odour suppressing foam would be used to keep the odours on site. Indeed with the benefit of binoculars we were able to see the excavations as they occurred. Watching the men in moon suits walking around instilled a sense of calm professionalism and competence. Those feelings lasted right up until the pungent and putrid odours made their way off–site hundreds of metres to the west. Elmira was treated yet again to Uniroyal’s ability to talk a much better game than they played. Amazingly all that was required was the application of more foam on the open excavation in order to cut back on the migrating fumes. It was also ironic/hypocritical that for decades Uniroyal had been telling residents that their air emissions were merely odourous not hazardous to their health. How peculiar that the safety protocols were so stringent for the workers including respirators, hazmat suits, and wash down procedures each day.


December 10, 1993 is a date for me that will live in infamy forever. To better illustrate why I will quote from a September 28, 1993 article in the K-W Record written by John Roe. The title is “Cleanup of 2 toxic waste pits going smoothly, Uniroyal says”. Several people were interviewed for this article including Steve Quigley of Conestoga Rovers and myself and Sylvia Berg from APT. The Bryants were on sabbatical in India and had been for some time. Their absence during this crisis turned out to have ramifications far in excess of anything than I could ever have imagined. Their absence delayed by more than a decade and a half my belated recognition of hints and anomalies that I should have picked up on much sooner. These ramifications will be discussed in depth in later chapters.

In this Record article John Roe wrote “Uniroyal paid for studies and a report on DNAPLS last year. But that report was heavily criticized and the province told the company to come up with another study.” Uniroyal and their consultants CRA did so. It was still a stinker. The earlier report was of course Brian Beatty’s (Dames & Moore) DNAPL report that took Stan Feenstra’s DNAPL conclusions completely out of context. While the CRA report may have found more likely DNAPL locations with the more appropriate 1% Solubility Rule, nevertheless this report was the equivalent of patching a rusting and leaking submarine. The old one desperately needed to be thrown out and the new started from scratch. I stated in my interview with Mr. Roe that Uniroyal had not done enough tests for DNAPLs. “There’s been little or no examination of a huge area" on the site. This area I was referring to was M2 or the former municipal landfill that Uniroyal now owned and was located in their highly contaminated south-west corner. Mr. Roe advised that Sylvia Berg stated that for Elmira to have drinkable water in 30 years the company must excavate all DNAPL hot spots. Oddly she allegedly then said “But to do this you need better excavations.” That makes no sense whatsoever hence I expect that Mr. Roe unintentionally misquoted her. Likely she said “But to do this you need better investigations.”

Steve Quigley was also slightly misquoted as he supposedly said that he defended the excavations his firm had done. In fact he was defending the investigations his firm had already done, not their excavations which weren’t complete for another two months. Or was he ?The project involving the two east side waste pits, RPE 4 & 5 had been underway for the previous 12 days and 350 truckloads of waste had been removed from the ground according to the K-W Record`s, John Roe who interviewed Uniroyal and personnel. Is it possible that contrary to what we were told in December 1993 and early January 1994 that in fact the DNAPLs at Retention Pond-5 (RPW-5) and Tar Pit West-2 (TPW-2) were actually excavated first in order to ensure there was room for them in the Envirodome before the massive excavations at RPE 4 & 5. Of course the problem with this scenario is that allegedly the MOE had not yet approved the Uniroyal and CRA plan regarding DNAPL removal. That did not come until the December 10, 1993 letter from the MOE advising Uniroyal and the other stakeholders, including APT; that the MOE approved CRA’s final DNAPL report. That date, December 10, 1993 was bizarre for two reasons. First it was within ten or twelve days of the completion of the removal from the ground of 46,000 tonnes of toxic waste. That waste was put all inside the Envirodome and it was many tonnes in excess of both the original estimates as well as the planned capacity of the Envirodome. Therefore any last minute additions to the in-ground excavations could have ended up without a home other than back in the ground. Secondly as the excavations of RPE 4 & 5 started in mid September, how believable is it that the MOE just made up their mind on December 10, 1993 to give Uniroyal and CRA the go ahead to excavate RPW-5 and TPW-2 as they were looking at the conclusion of this major project?

Sylvia then at the end of Mr. Roe’s September 28, 1993 article said the magic words which should have been enough just over two months later to have gotten her a permanent leave of absence from APT. In response to the comment that the Ontario Ministry of Environment needed to approve Uniroyal’s DNAPL plan she stated that she’d “be very surprised if they found this report adequate.”

In fact the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change found Conestoga Rovers latest DNAPL report to be just fine. Not only did they ignore criticism, advice, and outrage from both the Region of Waterloo and APT earlier in the year but they apparently overlooked their own issues with the previous Dames & Moore report. This opposition was full blown in February 1993 prior to two events. Firstly CRA hadn’t delivered their new report that was supposed to vastly improve on the highly criticized effort by Brian Beatty and secondly the Region of Waterloo hadn’t yet settled with either the MOE or Uniroyal in regards to the Region’s costs for hiring consultants, drilling wells and building the new pipeline from Waterloo to St. Jacobs and Elmira.

I was appalled at the MOE’s rollover. That was disgusting. What came next however was so much worse. APT rolled over and bellied up. It was done by Sylvia Berg, APT’s vice-president. She didn’t defend the MOE’s December 10, 1993 decision and letter. She didn’t condemn it either. When I expressed my disgust that the again inadequate DNAPL report had been accepted despite APT’s written and well researched criticisms of Uniroyal’s (CRA) second effort she had absolutely no comment. I pointed out to her that it was herself, Glenys McMullen, and me who had worked so hard on preparing a well thought out, well written critique in August 1993. She was unmoved to the point of not even agreeing that APT needed to take some steps of some sort to protest this blatant cover up of what Susan Bryant fifteen months earlier had referred to as the “…most serious environmental problem at Uniroyal.”

Sylvia was a stone wall of non-communication so I approached Richard Clausi, another APT coordinator. He wanted to know the details and the specifics regarding the DNAPL reports including the critique that Glenys McMullen, Sylvia Berg, and I had written. He too was shocked as he began to understand the blatancy of the MOE’s December 10, 1993 acceptance of CRA’s DNAPL report. There was absolutely no reasonable explanation offered by either the MOE or by Sylvia Berg. Richard called for a meeting of the APT coordinators for early January as everyone were overwhelmed with Christmas and family commitments by what was now late December 1993.

I had done the bulk of the reading and research necessary for APT’s latest DNAPL critique just as I had for the previous one. Both Sylvia Berg and her friend Glenys McMullen had cheerfully assisted with editing and writing APT’s formal critique of CRA’s latest woefully inadequate DNAPL report. Both of them were fully on-side with my conclusions, at least to my face that is. To say that I was shocked by Sylvia’s refusal to seriously discuss the MOE’s about face is an understatement. I did have a moment’s pause however when after APT’s critique was fully prepared and typed, Sylvia had me sign it which I immediately did. I then waited for her to sign it as well. Nothing. I said to her that both she and Glenys McMullen deserved the credit as well for their efforts and input. Oh no she said, I did the difficult work it was better for just me to sign it which I had already done. I found that peculiar but obviously couldn’t force her to sign it.

Richard and I had prepared handouts for the APT coordinators regarding the history of the DNAPL investigations at Uniroyal. Obviously other than me and Susan Bryant who was still in India, none of the coordinators had read any of the DNAPL reports. While I was extraordinarily concerned with what I viewed as Sylvia Berg’s bizarre behaviour and attitude, at no point did I even remotely entertain the thought that she was co-opted or worse. In fact I later expressed to Richard and another confidant that I feared that Sylvia was having either some kind of breakdown or that she was in the midst of two possible personal, health crises. The second concern may very well have been accurate but that did not explain her rock solid performance at the coordinators meeting. Also Richard had by then received the previously mentioned correspondence from Pat Potter of Dunnville which advised that Sylvia had sent a letter of support for Uniroyal to the CCPA.

I did my best to explain to the coordinators the seriousness of the MOE’s rollover on the DNAPL issue. At the same time Sylvia reassured them that she was monitoring and observing the situation and while the CRA’s conclusions were not perfect they really weren’t that bad. Some DNAPLS had been removed from RPW-5 and TPW-2 in the last half of December (1993) and more might be done in the future. I pointed out the APT critique which only had my signature, not Sylvia’s, nor Glenys’s at the bottom of it. Sylvia was calm and reassuring regarding DNAPLs yet aggressive and hostile regarding Richard and I having questioned her and forcing this meeting unnecessarily in her opinion. Then Richard, while in hindsight 100% correct, made in my opinion a tactical error. He threw down Pat Potter’s very strong suspicions that Sylvia was co-opted based upon her letter to the CCPA. Again in hindsight I was way too slow to come to the same conclusion but this was neither the time nor the place to accuse her. Now Sylvia had what she wanted which was less of a technical argument regarding the DNAPL cover up and hence some appropriate response from APT, and more of a personal attack upon her integrity. The APT coordinators now had a simpler choice. To a certain extent this DNAPL debate had turned into a popularity contest. The coordinators, just like me, certainly didn’t want to believe that Sylvia was a plant, a mole, or some kind of a spy for Uniroyal Chemical Ltd. The debate was over and they voted to support Sylvia’s doing nothing regarding the Ministry rolling over on DNAPLS.

That could have and should have been the end but that’s when I really got a good look at Sylvia Berg. Having won the DNAPL discussion she jumped all over me. Alan she stated was to be removed from the APT representatives on UPAC. She could no longer share a table or be a working colleague of mine after I had attacked her integrity. No such thing happened of course because up till then I still didn’t believe it. Certainly indirectly as Richard and I had forced the meeting regarding an APT response to the DNAPL cover up, he and I were acting in concert. I have never blamed Richard for speaking what he believed to be true and in hindsight he was the only one at that meeting who did come to the right conclusion about Sylvia. After Sylvia’s ultimatum Richard immediately resigned from APT. I was stunned. As surprised as I was by Richard’s resignation, the tipping point for me was Sylvia’s aggressive stance of removing me as one of the APT representatives at the UPAC table. That was on the face of it ridiculous as I was by far their most proven and reliable technical reader and had proven that with the Stan Feenstra scandal that resulted in the “Consolidation” of Brian Beatty and company. If other APT members had jumped in right there, things could still have been salvaged. Salvaged for APT’s and the public’s benefit. It didn’t happen. I resigned along with Richard. A week or two later Esther Thur one of the founders of APT resigned as well. She had been attending UPAC meetings regularly and knew I was the real deal. She joined Rich Clausi and I as members of the Elmira Environmental Hazards Team named after and with the approval of Pat Potter, of the original Environmental Hazards Team in Dunnville, Ontario.

Hindsight is often twenty-twenty. What Sylvia lacked in technical prowess she made up for in understanding people. Did she know and hope that by making her off of APT at UPAC meetings ultimatum to me, after winning the DNAPL debate, that I would likely say to hell with you, I’m out of here? Was that her plan from the beginning? Was this the same thing as the impossible condition given to Susan Rupert by the MOE that UPAC meetings had to be private and behind closed doors knowing that while Susan Rupert would never go for it, other more amenable to persuasion APT members would? In other words by making an unreasonable and ridiculous demand could you induce the most involved and honest members to say that’s it, I’m done? This can only work if the manipulators are confident that the less involved citizens will not aggressively intervene and stop it.

There is one other question to be asked? Was Sylvia’s behaviour all about getting rid of another person she viewed as a threat to her (and Susan Bryant) being the front and centre APT spokespersons? Was this all about ego? Why did she set me up the way she did on the black and white DNAPL matter? Was she working along with either Uniroyal or the MOE on this as well? Certainly I had announced my presence loudly and clearly to UPAC and them with the Stan Feenstra/Brian Beatty affair. Up until very recently (June 2018) I had always felt that Susan and Darrol Bryant were thousands of miles away in India and totally isolated from these happenings. Just recently in conversations with Susan Rupert I have been disabused of that notion. They were in touch regularly with both Susan Rupert and Sylvia Berg. Hence they could have and should have intervened at the time but instead chose to let this disaster play out.

In a January 12, 1994 K-W Record article written by John Roe, Sylvia Berg was quoted as saying “…APT was generally satisfied with the excavation of the DNAPLs that took place last year.” Compare that to her quote of September 28, 1993 and with virtually zero explanation for her turnaround or the MOE’s; there was but one conclusion for me. “The fix was in.” I had stated that on the day I stopped working at Varnicolor Chemical. It was apparent again. With the benefit of much further evidence and data over the ensuing twenty-four years I have become convinced that as early as 1993, at the least, that APT’s President and Vice-President were making private deals with both Uniroyal and the Ontario Ministry of Environment behind APT members backs. This includes behind the backs of the general membership as well as behind the backs of their fellow APT coordinators. This same thing occurred after 2000 when Sylvia Berg and family had departed Elmira and Susan Bryant improbably teamed up with councillor Pat McLean. That pair then went on to making deals with the MOE and or Uniroyal, on UPAC/CPAC’s part, but again behind their backs. They got caught doing that by me in regards to the proposed new Ammonia Treatment System and that and the newest resurgence of DNAPL interest at Uniroyal was the reason that that pair manipulated the old CPAC to get rid of me. It is difficult to say whether either Sylvia or Susan actually felt that they knew best and were making private deals to save time and was in the public interest. None of the three of them on their own were remotely qualified to be doing so. There is both strength and common sense in a group of honest citizens debating issues. The original APT with Susan Rupert, Sandra Bray and Esther Thur believed in decisions by consensus. Sylvia, Pat, and Susan clearly did not. They routinely and surreptitiously usurped the group’s authority for their own, whether from APT or from CPAC, up until they got their 4 1/2 year comeuppance in early 2011 which I shall describe later.

Back to January 1994. Sylvia Berg sold APT and the public down the drain regarding DNAPLS. I knew shortly after and for ever more that this was the biggest reason for APT’s decline of legitimate influence from that point onwards. While Uniroyal and the MOE had likely played games to get APT to join UPAC in the first place, nevertheless they had to be careful that other APT members didn’t catch on. After the APT members skated on the second inadequate DNAPL report Uniroyal knew they were home free. They had two inside persons that they could count on to being amenable to making deals. Just like the Ontario MOE would.

I was disappointed with the other APT members after January 1994. True I had been successfully manipulated and fooled by Sylvia as had they but at the least I expected phone calls from some of them commiserating. Other than Esther Thur it didn’t happen.

The Region of Waterloo, APT, GRCA, MOE, and UPAC all were so pleased with the completed excavation of RPE-4 & 5 that they turned a blind eye to the token removal of DNAPL at RPW-5 and TPW-2. The other reason for most of these groups backing off likely had to do with Uniroyal settling financially with the Region and with Woolwich Township, earlier in March 1993 prior to the start of the east side excavations. Knowing Uniroyal’s hard- nosed, private bargaining skills I expect that they asked for and tacitly at least, received a pass on onerous DNAPL removal at this time.

The RPW-5 excavation was a small corner of the entire pit. Similarly we were told that at TPW-2, free phase DNAPL was clearly visible and left behind. The excuse was that it was mixed in with municipal garbage from M2 located right beside TPW-2 and Uniroyal claimed that they weren’t responsible for the contents of the former municipal landfill which they now owned. Not responsible well describes the situation and the MOE were full fledged members of the not responsible club.
 CLICK ON "OLDER POSTS"  (below right)  to advance to Chapter Four                                                                                                        

ENDNOTES for Chapter 3

24 Bob Burtt, “Region launches water lawsuits”, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, October 2, 1990

25 Ontario Min. Of Environment, Drinking Water Surveillance Program, ELMIRA WELL SUPPLY, Annual
Report 1989, March 1991,Table 1, p.11.


27 Bob Burtt, “Ministry misled, Elmira group says”, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, September 22, 1992

28 Bob Burtt, “Uniroyal may face charges in cleanup”, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, October 15, 1992

29 Bob Burtt, “MOE presses Uniroyal for chemical search”, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, December 1,

30 Bob Burtt, “Uniroyal officials doubt all chemicals can be cleaned up”, Kitchener-Waterloo Record,
December 11, 1992

31 “Chemical Producers ads do not tell the full story, Pollution Probe says”, Elmira Independent,
January 25, 1993