Photo: Stand with Grassy Narrows, one of Canada's most toxic sites

Participants of the River Run rally 2016 called on the Ontario government to clean up the mercury spilled in Grassy Narrows.

By Faisal Moola

In 1962, a Dryden, Ontario pulp and paper mill began dumping untreated mercury waste into the Wabigoon River, upstream from several First Nations communities, including Grassy Narrows, home to the Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek people. Until 1970, more than 9,000 kilograms of mercury poured into the watershed. Mercury contamination has devastated the local environment and community members' health to this day.

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The Toronto Star recently published a story about secret documents showing that the government has long known that Grassy Narrows could be cleaned up, but chose not to act. As a result, people continue to be needlessly exposed to high concentrations of toxic mercury in their water and food.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin. Because of chronic mercury exposure, people in Grassy Narrows suffer from numbness in fingertips and lips, loss of co-ordination, trembling and other neuromuscular problems. Mercury poisoning is also linked to developmental problems in children, which persist into adulthood.


Grassy Narrows is at the centre of one of the worst toxic sites in Canada. Yet the current Ontario government has refused to clean up the watershed. Instead, they're tracking the situation, hoping mercury levels will drop naturally. That hasn't happened. More than 50 years later, scientists still find dangerously high mercury concentrations in area lakes.

For too long, successive Ontario governments have dragged their feet despite strong scientific evidence that the Grassy Narrows river system can be cleaned up and the water and fish in its lakes and rivers can become safe to drink and eat again.

More than10,000 people have written Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne urging her to clean up the massive mercury contamination that has plagued Grassy Narrows. Please join them. Tell provincial and federal leaders, you want them to take immediate action to make the Grassy Narrows watershed healthy again, so it can sustain future generations.

And please help spread the word through social media.

More information on Grassy Narrows here.

July 4, 2016

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