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Acid Rain: Pollution and Politics
When fish started turning belly up in lakes and streams, North America's eyes were suddenly opened to the consequences of pollution. But long after acid rain became a household word and Canada decided to take action, the United States was still hesitant to curb its share of industrial pollutants. For years Prime Minister Brian Mulroney courted a reluctant American president while Canadian activists lobbied and spread the word. Results came eventually, but it may have been too little too late.
Death on Tap: The Poisoning of Walkerton
In May 2000, bacteria seeped into Walkerton's town well. The deadly E. coli then slipped quietly through a maze of pipes and into the homes of Walkerton, Ont. Unsuspecting residents thirstily drank the polluted water and bathed in their bacteria-ridden tubs. But soon after, they began experiencing common symptoms of infection; bloody diarrhea and throbbing cramps. Seven people would eventually die and another 1286 would fall ill. The investigation which followed exposed an alarmingly unstable waterworks system made fragile by government cuts.
Mercury Rising: The Poisoning of Grassy Narrows
Between 1962 and 1970, natives in two northwest Ontario communities sat down to daily meals of poison. Their staple food — fish — had record-high levels of mercury from a chemical plant up the river. Debate still rages over just how sick the mercury has made the people of Grassy Narrows and Whitedog reserves. There is no doubt, however, that the lingering pollution was a disaster for the natives and the lodge owners who had employed them as fishing guides. Their source of food and jobs destroyed, the bands endured years of alcoholism and despair, government neglect and, finally, healing.
The Sinking and Raising of the Irving Whale
Environmentalists dubbed it a ticking time bomb, and nobody knew when — or if — the Irving Whale oil barge would release its dangerous cargo. Toxic discoveries, legal delays and spiralling costs would all ensue before the Irving Whale saw the light of day — 26 years after sinking off Prince Edward Island in 1970.
Troubled Waters: Pollution in the Great Lakes
Bacteria-laden beaches, lakes choked with algae and fish contaminated by industrial waste: these have been symptoms of pollution in the Great Lakes since the late 1950s. With growing threats to drinking water, wildlife populations and human health, governments on both sides of the border took action to reverse the Lakes' decline in the 1970s. Today they supply water to one-third of all Canadians and one-seventh of all Americans. Under the watchful eyes of scientists and environmentalists, the Lakes are slowly becoming great again.