Ejected from CPAC, Alan Marshall isn’t done with the cause: he’s still pushing for more action at the contaminated Chemtura Co. site in Elmira.
Monday night he repeated his call for pressure to be brought on the chemical company to remove dioxins buried on the property. Given that Chemtura is seeking reverification under the Responsible Care program of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada and an impending provincial election, now is the ideal time to force the company to do the long-delayed remediation work, he told Woolwich councillors.
“Chemtura has promised to remove these toxins from the subsurface. They’ve promised this a number of times and, unfortunately, they’ve delayed and rescheduled this removal a number of times.”
Carcinogenic, dioxins have been found in concentrations of more than 50,000 parts per trillion on the southeast corner of the site, said Marshall. Given that, for drinking water standards, dioxins are measured in parts per quadrillion, the soil concentration of dioxins at the site are 3,000 times higher.
“Dioxins enter the general population almost exclusively from ingestion of food, specifically through the consumption of fish, meat and dairy products since dioxins are fat soluble and readily climb the food chain,” he said. “To the present time, Woolwich council may have supported initiatives to fence off cattle from the floodplain of the Canagagigue Creek downstream of Chemtura. Both dioxins and DDT have been found downstream of Chemtura, which is hardly surprising.”
It was the same message Marshall brought to council last month, just before he was removed from the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee for being a disruptive influence. There was nothing but polite interaction this time, however, as councillors received his input.
Coun. Mark Bauman, who later recommended passing Marshall’s comments for CPAC to act on, suggested the township has very little say in the matter. The Ministry of the Environment has “the hammer” what would force the cleanup, he said.
But Marshall argued the MOE would follow where township and public pressure is brought to bear on the situation. For those from this area running in the fall provincial election, the Chemtura issue is a clear way to demonstrate commitment to the environment, he said.
For its part, the company says the dioxin cleanup is the next big project on its radar.
In an interview this week, Dwight Este, the plant’s environment, health safety and security manager, said Chemtura hopes to begin the consultative process this summer, with an eye towards beginning work next year.
Tests conducted previously show high levels of dioxins in two former gravel pit sites on the east side of the property. The process now involves further study to determine the extent of the problem and how best to remediate the land.
Input from CPAC specifically and the community at large will play an important role, said Este.
“That’s why it’s important for us to get back to the table with CPAC.”
The committee has been on hold since last fall, but meetings resume next week.
In a related matter, Marshall has filed a formal application for review to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario requesting greater public involvement in the Chemtura issue. Essentially, he wants to see CPAC become more independent, removed from the influence of township council.