Once elected our government members need to appoint people into positions who really know what they are doing. After all who expects any minister to really have any first hand working knowledge of his or her portfolio. A case in point can be Canada's Environment Minister Peter Kent, who has much knowledge about environmental issues as he has about definitions of such mundane things as 'ozone' or 'honouring agreements', etc. All levels of government appoint these 'middle managers' to run their departments, make government look good, and get the job done. These individuals are provided with good salaries, paid naturally with public's money, and given all kinds of titles. There are Assistant Deputy Ministers, Chief Administration Officers, Chief Executive Officers, and many more. One may think of these as modern society's new 'titled' gentry rather than Sir or Dame.
In the Niagara Region of Ontario, the Chief Medical Officer Valerie Jaeger is indeed a medical officer. Dr. Valerie Jaeger is a licensed, practising family physician. Dr. Valerie Jaeger carries with her all the mythology of the Hippocratic Oath and the caring for her fellow man, oh and woman and child, one has to remain politically correct. As a family physician she has to be trusted by those who are not only her personal patients, but by the general public as well. No one expects anything other than honesty and the truth from a doctor. How would it be if a doctor told a patient only what they want to hear rather than the facts about their health.
Doctors are respected and trusted in our community even today. But Dr. Valerie Jaeger is also one of the new 'titled' gentry in our community. Dr. Valerie Jaeger is the Chief Medical Officer for the Regional Municipality of Niagara and its government. As the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Valerie Jaeger was appointed by the Regional Chairman and blessed by the Provincial Minister of Health. Now Dr. Jaeger is not just a mere doctor, she is a government official, a public servant. She is no longer responsible for just her list of patients, but for the health of tens of thousands of Niagara residents. Here is when the mythology surrounding doctors, and maybe Hippocrates himself, gets turned on its butt.
A very serious issue arose in 2012 relating to public health. This related to potential contaminates reaching Lake Ontario and the freshwater supply of not only Niagara residents, but hundreds of thousands of Ontario residents. Dr. Valerie Jaeger's Office of Public Health is responsible for the implementation of the Sewer Use By-Laws. Dr. Jaeger lied in written responses to Regional Chairman Gary Burroughs, an elected Regional Councillor Andrew Petrowski, and to a member of the public. It was difficult to understand what motivated Dr. Jaeger to lie, but all the evidence was undeniable, and presented in an article titled, Dr. Valerie Jaeger MD, PhD., LIED!
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario reviewed a complaint submitted to them. On November 16th 2012 in their final report the College decided that the “complaints against Dr. Jaeger relate to her role as a public official and are outside the practice of medicine.” In simple language, the College did not clear Dr. Valerie Jaeger of any lies, they only said that the lies came from a public official not a doctor. Dr. Jaeger was still referred to in all the communications by the College as a 'doctor', and Dr. Jaeger is still a member of the College and Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. Jaeger managed to survive through all of this without consequence. In fact as a loyal 'titled' appointee and public official, she found the government willing to protect her further. The Regional Municipality of Niagara provided the College a copy of a memorandum dated June 20th 2012 where they state, “there was no basis for further investigation and no basis or grounds for what it termed were “defamatory comments” made by the complainant about Dr. Jaeger.”
Clear and undeniable evidence was labelled as “defamatory comments.” Dr. Jaeger was safe, and one would think that was enough. Alas that was not so. A local St. Catharines resident and community activist Preston Haskell came across evidence presented in a blog titled NO AD LIB relating to potential contaminates pumped into a run-off sewer. This related to a former brownfield property which was being developed for a new fast food restaurant and other retail. NO AD LIB presented an article which provided photographs of pumplines extending from an excavation into a parking lot run-off sewer. Independent laboratory tests results were also published of samples taken from the site of both water and soil. Those tests were conducted by an accredited environmental testing facility, and the results were alarming.
Mr. Haskell represents a local community group called The Winners Circle, publishes a quarterly newsletter under that title, and a blog titled News Alert Niagara. The information published in the NO AD LIB article concerned him and he decided to raise the issue with the regional government of Niagara and his regional councillor. It was the response from Dr. Valerie Jaeger and her 'titled' political compadres that was alarming. (Mr. Haskell provided copies of all emails to Mayorgate).
As the original article on NO AD LIB presented photographs of pumplines extending from inside the excavation pit and into the storm run-off sewer, Mr. Haskell raised questions of the regional government as to what tests were conducted prior to discharge. He raised a total of eight questions relating to the contaminated water that was discharged into the storm sewer and to the contaminated soil taken to landfill.
|A pump and pump line secured into a parking lot run-off sewer at a Brownfield excavation site 344 Glendale Ave. St. Catharines|
|Pump line secured into the parking lot run-off sewer pumping contaminated water from a Brownfield excavation site. The run-off sewers eventually empty into Lake Ontario.|
|The black soil visible of the wall of the excavation, pump line extending down into the pit.|
Dr. Valerie Jaeger in her email to Mr. Haskell dated October 30th 2012 states, “In your request sent through the Clerk's Office in August, you pose eight questions. 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.” Mr. Ken Brothers, Commissioner of Public Works stated that, “Drainage and surface storm water are not a Regional responsibility. Separate storm water is not treated at our wwtp facilities.” Mr. Bjorn Christensen, Director of Environmental Health at Regional Municipality of Niagara said, “the MOE is the government agency responsible to ensure that storm water outfalls meet provincial legislation and to that end works closely with municipalities who are responsible for local storm water management.”
By all intent and purpose Dr. Valerie Jaeger, Chief Medical Officer, Mr. Ken Brothers Commissioner of Public Works, and Mr. Bjorn Chirstensen, Director Environmental Health at the Regional Municipality of Niagara washed their hands of these issues. Responsibility was shifted to the Ministry of the Environment for the pumping of contaminated water into the storm sewers, and for that matter everything else.
The Commissioner of Public Works, Ken Brothers said that drainage and storm water are not a Regional responsibility, yet he ignored the Sewer Use By-Law 47-2008. It is a document prepared by the Niagara Region Public Works. Page seven of the twenty two page document sets out provisions for Administration and Enforcement. Point 3.1 clearly states, “Regional Council may enact a by-law appointing enforcement officers for the purpose of the enforcement of this by-law as required.” Further in point 3.2 it states that the Commissioner authorizes the enforcement officers to determine compliance of this by-law and or even the laying of charges under this by-law.
Niagara Region's own official By-Law 47-2008 clearly states that the Commissioner of Public Works appoints the enforcement officers. He provides them the authority to determine compliance with the by-law, and to lay charges for non-compliance. Yet Ken Brothers, who is the Commissioner of Public Works said that “drainage and surface storm water are not a Regional responsibility.” Why did Ken Brothers lie? Why did Ken Brothers ignore the very same Regional by-law that his enforcement officers are authorized to enforce?
Bjorn Christensen, Director Environmental Health, seemed to hedge his bets on the issue. In his response he too shifts the responsibility to the provincial ministry, but he adds that “municipalities who are responsible for local storm water management.” What does “local storm water management” really mean in Bjorn Christensen's interpretation?
Dr. Valerie Jaeger in her email of October 30th 2012 to Preston Haskell stated that detectable levels of a contaminate do not necessarily equate to toxic levels of a contaminate. Dr. Jaeger's own words were: “It is possible for something to be present at a concentration thousands of times above detectable level but still not at a toxic level.” In this point Dr. Jeager did not lie, but one could ask the good doctor if she would drink a glass of water where arsenic had been detected even if she was assured it was not at a toxic level?
The official Sewer Use By-Law 47-2008 on page 9 of 22 presents Table 1 – Limits for Sanitary and Combined Sewers. Point 4.12 above it, “Sewage containing any of the following matter in excess of the concentrations indicated in Table 1.” The opening words to point 4 are, “No person shall discharge or deposit or cause or permit the discharge or the deposit into any sanitary or combined sewer or into any sewer or sewer system connected directly or indirectly with any Regional sanitary sewer...” This table sets the limit (mg/L) for Arsenic as 1. Test Results conducted by the independent environmental testing laboratory showed arsenic at a level of 3.11 in the water sample. Now to ask Dr. Valerie Jaeger the same question and then offer a glass of water.
Dr. Jaeger also states “I believe you also raised concerns in your August emails that the Niagara Winners Circle had conducted testing on samples...” Here a serious error has occurred, either through miscommunication or presumption. Neither Mr. Preston Haskell nor anyone associated with the Niagara Winners Circle conducted or collected any samples from this site. All photographic documentation, sample gathering and testing were conducted by Alexander Davidoff and first published in no-ad-lib.blogspot.ca. Mr. Haskell's concerns for the community and desire to raise these issues with the Niagara regional government resulted from viewing this information and formulating his questions.
Out of the eight questions that Mr. Haskell raised, he questioned where the contaminated soil was dumped, and the testing results on the soil. All three of these 'titled' public employees shifted the responsibility onto the provincial ministry. Yet all landfills in the Niagara area are operated by the Regional Municipality of Niagara (all except one which is operated by Walker Bros.). Any soil from a former brownfield would have to be tested and full documentation provided. Relating to this same property in 2007 a Regional spokesperson Denise Papaiz had told a local reporter, Matthew Van Dongen of The Standard, “Niagara landfills can't take any soil with level of mercury at 0.1 milligrams per litre or higher.” Independent test results on soil samples taken from this excavation showed mercury at 0.120 ug/g. This measure, ug/g represents micrograms per gram or parts per million.
Regional spokesperson Denise Papaiz used a measure for levels of mercury as milligrams per litre, a liquid measure used in relation to solid hazardous waste. To ascertain these levels water is passed through a handful of mercury contaminated soil in a laboratory. As the water passes through the sample it is then tested for contaminate levels. Many would be familiar with a cleaning agent called CLR. It is a tough chemical cleaner that removes even rust stains. Pour some CLR on a stain and wipe it with a rag, some of the stain will be removed. Now pour the CLR on the stain and leave it to sit for a period then use the rag and all of the stain will be removed. Pouring a litre of water over contaminated soil and then testing the drained water is simply ludicrous.
All landfills, except as stated already, in the Niagara region are operated by the Regional Municipality of Niagara. Responsibility for the landfills falls under the jurisdiction of Regional Public Works. Nothing can be dumped without clear and precise documentation, at least that is the theory. How does the Commissioner of Public Works then claim not to have any responsibility in the matter? Did Commissioner for the Regional Municipality of Niagara,
Mr. Ken Brothers intentionally attempt to deceive?
Commissioner Ken Brothers also claimed in an email that this matter was investigated by Ministry of Environment and the file is now closed. Once again this is not true or correct, even though all three of these 'titled' public servants lay claim to a close working relationship with the Ministry of Environment.
An investigation was launched on this property in 2007 after the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario had approved an application made through his office. A second investigation, once again after the ECO approved and requested the MOE to review an issue of contaminated soil being removed to landfill, was conducted in 2009. The owner of the property at the time, Nino Donatelli, had made public statements on CBC television and in the local newspaper, that the soil was heavily contaminated with mercury, arsenic, lead and copper.
The excavation in April of 2011, during which the contaminated water was pumped into the storm run-off sewer, and when the black contaminated soil was unearthed, was never brought to an investigation. All the details, photographs and test results were published in NO AD LIB. Questions were raised of the Minister of the Environment publicly, but no investigation was conducted. During the excavation large steel drums were unearthed, they were placed at the side of the pit and then disappeared several days later. As the black soil was dug up the excavation was halted for some seven days. Later that soil was removed to landfill. Water was pumped directly into the storm run-off sewer, and photographs show the pump and pumplines.
|Large drums with severe rust, seals broken appear to be unearthed during the excavation. What was in the drums or where they came from unknown. Where were they dumped, again unknown.|
|Shale soaking mixing with the black water and soil, the rainbow seen across all surfaces.|
|Continuation of the excavation at 344 Glendale Ave. The soil black, highly contaminated, the water black with rainbow over it, shale dumped to soak and cover the contamination.|
This property has faced several investigations approved by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the first was in 2007. After some years of 'investigating' and testing, the Director of the Western Region of the Ministry of Environment Mr. Bill Bardswick sent out a notice. Director Bardswick stated that the test results should be disregarded as the tests were interfered with at the laboratory. Under investigation was an issue of approximately half a million gallons of mercury contaminated water pumped from an excavation into a storm water run-off sewer illegally. The developer and owner of the property admitted in the press that he did indeed pump the water into the sewer but only because he did not know he needed to get permission. Nino Donatelli had been given an award by the Regional Municipality of Niagara as the best brownfield redevelopment prior to the pumping.
Two years later the same developer, Nino Donatelli excavated some 5000 tonnes of contaminated soil from the property. Its cocktail of contaminates consisted of mercury, arsenic, lead and copper. Niagara's regional municipality gave Donatelli permission to dump this heavily contaminated soil at a landfill in Wainfleet, Ontario. Station Road Landfill in Wainfleet is physically only minutes from public beaches and Lake Erie. Leaching from this massive dumping of contaminated soil could go into one direction only. In an interview with the head of the Ministry of the Environment in St. Catharines, Mr. Rich Vickers admitted that the MOE did not do the testing prior to approval of the deposit at landfill. In fact Rick Vickers of the MOE admitted that MOE did not even know what the contaminates were. He also questioned the decision by the Regional Municipality of Niagara to permit this contaminated soil to be dumped at such a sensitive landfill site. This interview was recorded and is available for verification.
In 2011 the excavation at issue was only some 40 feet away from where this soil was removed and dumped at Wainfleet. There were no investigations, it is a lie by Mr. Ken Brothers. This property has faced several environmental investigations that only left greater and more alarming questions in the end. Its history as a rubber factory in the 1800's and then as a paper mill operated by Domtar Paper Mills, guaranteed serious contamination of the soil.
All three: Dr. Valerie Jaeger, Mr. Ken Brothers Commissioner of Public Works, and Mr. Bjorn Christensen Director of Environmental Services had claimed that they had a close working relationship with the local office of the Ministry of Environment. Dr. Valerie Jaeger had made this claim in the past. Here all three have intentionally misled Mr. Preston Haskell and a Regional Councillor. Still the motivation behind this deceit is not difficult to identify.
Governments, at all levels from federal to municipal, find environmental issues an obstacle. We hear all the rhetoric of protecting the future from them but the reality is far removed from their combined rhetoric. Business and development survives on increasing profit margins, at the same time governments need the tax revenue and generation of potential jobs. Adherence to environmental legislation is an added cost, and in the case of developing a brownfield, always a hidden one. These 'titled' public employees are paid well to ensure the smooth operation of all government machinery, and they simply protect their own positions.
Here three individuals have in fact lied about facts surrounding questions of contaminates and potential access of these contaminates into the open environment. Copies of their responses were forwarded to the Regional Chairman Gary Burroughs, chair for the Regional Municipality of Niagara. Chairman Burroughs cannot claim ignorance on these matters, after all he is a highly paid public official with years of experience. For Gary Burroughs to claim he simply accepts the statements by those who are employed by the Regional Government, then it is time Chairman Gary Burroughs be removed from office.
|Chairman Gary Burroughs cannot claim ignorance of the Regional Sewer Use By-Law, as it was signed by his predecessors.|
Once again Dr. Valerie Jaeger, Niagara's chief medical officer is part of intentional deceit. Dr. Jaeger, Mr. Bjorn Christensen Director of Environmental Services, and Mr. Ken Brothers Commissioner of Public Works, intentionally misled Mr. Preston Haskell. Together they provided the web of misconception over an issue that in the end affects all of the people of Niagara, and they are paid well from the public purse provided by these same people.
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