Friday, 9 November 2012

WaterSmart Niagara, How does that work?


 According to ‘WaterSmart’ Niagara we should ‘spread the word’ on how the Niagara Regional Government is protecting our precious water supply.
Spread the word: Tell friends, family, and neighbours about protecting our water. The more people involved in the protection of our water resources, the greater the benefit to current and future generations.
Participate: Involve yourself in local activities that clean up parks, roadways and shorelines. These activities benefit the environment and help keep our water resources free from contaminants. They can also provide fun, friendship and even exercise for everyone involved. 
http://www.niagararegion.ca/government/initiatives/nwqps/default.aspx
After reading the ‘Water Smart’ website we very naively proceeded to contact the Niagara Regional Government with our concerns regarding a serious pollution dump.
On August 22, 2012 we sent the following email to the regional clerk…

Dear Janet Pilon,
We are making inquiries regarding the excavation at 340 Glendale Avenue.
Would you kindly forward this inquiry to the appropriate party that could give us the answers?
The property in question is adjacent to the Keg Restaurant in preparation for the construction of the building to accommodate the Swiss Chalet and Harvey’s eating establishments in Mid April 2011
Thousands of Tons of Toxic Soil hidden in Niagara Landfill
The excavation unearthed serious contaminated soil.
This excavation and the work on the site were halted due to heavy black soil being dug up.
What tests were done on the soil?
Who conducted the tests?
What were the results of the tests?
Where was the contaminated soil removed to, which landfill site?
During the excavation large amounts of water filled the excavation pit, what was done with this water?
Pumping 1000's of Liters of Toxic Liquids Down Storm Sewers
Were test samples taken of this water?
What were the results?
Were are the test results?
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Dear Mr. Haskell
Chair Burroughs has forwarded to me your email of October 29th.  Thank you for your concerns which I believe were also partly addressed in a response to Councilor Petrowski on September 27th which he then forwarded to yourself.
I have copied these two emails below my signature on this email.

In your request sent through the Clerk’s office in August, you posed eight questions:
What tests were done on the soil?
Who conducted the tests?
What were the results of the tests?
Where was the contaminated soil removed to, which landfill site?
During the excavation large amounts of water filled the excavation pit, what was done with this water?
Were test samples taken of this water?
What were the results?
Where are the test results?

The answer to all of these eight questions is that these are all the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment and not that of The Regional Municipality of Niagara, whether councilors or staff.  We reiterate our advice that concerns about any testing that was, or was not done, should be raised with the MOE. Telephone conversation with a representative from local MOE today was to the effect that MOE were aware of this 2011 development and the MOE office advised public health that the process of soil removal and trucking to landfill was conducted in compliance with provincial legislation.  A Record of Site Condition for the property at 344 Glendale Avenue was filed by a Qualified Person in accordance with Ontario Regulation 153/04 in June 2011.  Information on the Record of Site Condition can be found on the publicly accessible Brownfields Environmental Site Registry.   I have provided a link to the RSC below;


I believe you also raised concerns in your August emails that the Niagara Winners Circle had conducted testing on samples and some results were very much over detectable levels.  I would like to point out that the level of concern for any substance would not be how much it was above the detectable level but whether it was above the toxic level.  It is possible for something to be present at a concentration thousands of times above detectable level but still not at a toxic level.  The Record of Site Condition referenced above demonstrates this for that site.
In summary, I can assure you that Public Health and the Niagara Region take environmental issues seriously and have established very close working relationships with our colleagues at the Ministry of Environment (MOE) who are responsible for investigating complaints of this nature under the mandate of the Environmental Protection Act. 
Best regards
Valerie Jaeger
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Dear Dr. Jaeger,
 Thank for your October 10, 2012 response to our letters of request re: pollution, which we initialized August 22, 2012.
First I must inform you that any response to any of my friends or acquaintances, including Councillor Petrowski is not a response to me, http://www.niagarawinnerscircle.com/  or http://newsalertniagara.blogspot.ca/
This link leaves us with more questions than answers. The fact remains that we, as a mere citizens group raised a concern regarding a pollution dump as recommended by ‘WaterSmart Niagara’. So far, after an unexplained two month delay, we have only received your official response, for which I thank you.
Correct me if I’m wrong but your message seems to suggest that no one from Regional Government was involved. How does that square with our Region By-Law No. 47-2008 and why have we not heard from said commissioner? Can the commissioner not even tell us where the contaminated soil was dumped? After all, landfill is definitely under the sole jurisdiction of the Niagara Region and his office and is not under the MOE.
The astonishing use of equivocation to evade responsibility to inform the public about the health concerns is troubling.
The Fact is that we have not received answers to any of our questions.
Naively, we thought that our concerns regarding pollution would be everyone’s concern.
 Now we discover that our concern regarding pollution is of no concern to the Niagara Regional Government or their commissioner or their health officer as evidenced by the lack of information regarding polluted water being poured down our storm-water drains and the refusal to tell us where the polluted soil was buried.
Dr. Jaeger, we are not in the business of chasing down answers to our eight questions nor are we paid to do so. We are in the public information business. That is why we came to the Region for answers. But, you know who is in the business of investigating for answers? You are! So is the commissioner and anyone at the region on the payroll who actually do care about a pollution dump.
You state that ‘In summary, I can assure you that Public Health and the Niagara Region take environmental issues seriously and have established very close working relationships with our colleagues at the Ministry of Environment (MOE), who are responsible for investigating complaints of this nature under the mandate of the Environmental Protection Act’. 
We are pleased to hear that Dr. Jaeger. Then can we assume that your relationship with the MOE will garner the answers that are still not forthcoming. I’m sure that our readers will find comfort in knowing that pollution is in good hands.

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The following is the
Remedial Action and Mitigation of record according to the Ministry of Environment (MOE) Website: http://www.environet.ene.gov.on.ca/besr-public/rscView.do?formatId=html&searchId=gen&rscId=114743


Estimate of quantities of soil, if any, originating and remaining on the RSC property that have been remediated, at a location either on or off the RSC property, to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the soil.
No Actions Provided
Removed Soils
Estimated quantity of soil or sediment, if any, removed from and not returned to the RSC property (in-situ cubic meters)
3376
Deposited Soils
Estimated quantity of soil or sediment, if any, being brought to and deposited at the RSC property not including any soil that has been remediated off the RSC property (identified in the Soil Remediation Process above) (in-situ cubic meters)
0
Remediated or Removed Soil or Ground Water from Near Property Boundary
Has any soil, sediment or ground water at the RSC property that is or was located within 3 meters of the RSC property boundary been remediated or removed for the purpose of remediation?
Yes





Ground Water Control or treatment measures that were required for the RSC property prior to the certification date for the purpose of filing the RSC:
No comments entered.
 
Other than the activities previously identified, constructed works to control or otherwise mitigate release or movement of known existing contaminants that are required for the RSC property after the certification date:
No comments entered.

Other than the activities identified above, constructed works to control or otherwise mitigate release or movement of known existing contaminants that were required for the RSC property prior to the certification date for the purpose of filing the RSC:
No comments entered.
 
Other than the activities identified above, constructed works to control or otherwise mitigate release or movement of known existing contaminants that are required for the RSC property after the certification date:
No comments entered.


Monitoring requirements, or any requirements for care, maintenance, or replacement of any monitoring control works, for known existing contaminants, if any, on the RSC property, after the certification date.
Soil Management Measures
No comments entered.
Ground Water Management Measures
No comments entered.

Please take notice of  the 'Certifications' at the bottom of (MOE) website

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P.S.
It would seem that our Niagara Regional Government has no answers to our inquiry as evidenced by the fact that they do not know the levels of toxins of the site in question because they have no test results of either the ONE THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED and SEVENTY-SIX Cubic Meters (3376) of POLLUTED SOIL and even where it was DUMPED. 

They either don't know or won't tell the TOXIC LEVELS of the MANY THOUSANDS OF LITERS of POLLUTED WATER that were simply poured down our storm sewers and into Lake Ontario. 

According to MOE 'Certifications' neither the City of St. Catharines or the Niagara Regional Government involved themselves!
It’s one thing for the salaried bureaucrats to stonewall and prevaricate regarding the very pollution that their expensive ‘WaterSmart' program brags about, but it is another matter altogether for our Elected Councilors to ALLOW this nonsense to stand!
We believe that at the site in question there was a major pollution dump and our regional authorities are refusing to answer our simple questions.

     
Obviously Chairman Burroughs is partly correct to demand an ethics commissioner. We say partly correct predicated on evidence that what we truly need is an ethics detective to ferret out how we have lost more than just ethics at our Niagara Regional Government. We need to discover how and why we have lost honesty, transparency and integrity.

For more of this story see: 


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