Thunder Bay·Audio

Grassy Narrows First Nation mercury needs immediate cleanup, NDP says

Mercury contamination in the English-Wabigoon river system near Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario needs to be cleaned up immediately, according to the provincial NDP.
France Gélinas, the NDP's Aboriginal Affairs critic, says the province is responsible for protecting the health of people at Grassy Narrows First Nation. (CBC)
it's been a week since a report was released calling for a clean up of the mercury contamination near Grassy Narrows. We'll hear the latest demand for remediation. 7:34
Mercury contamination in the English-Wabigoon river system near Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario needs to be cleaned up immediately, according to the provincial NDP.

A Dryden, Ont. paper mill dumped mercury in the waterway in the 1960s. A report released in mid-June calls for remediation. It also shows mercury levels continue to rise in some of the lakes that people from Grassy Narrows rely on for sustenance fishing.

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne said the report, commissioned by the province and the First Nation, leaves many unanswered questions and more study is needed. The NDP disagrees.

"It has been too long," said MPP France Gelinas, the NDP's Aboriginal Affairs critic. "Action has to be taken now. Let's start this. Let's put a work plan in place that will clean this up once and for all."

Gelinas, who is from Sudbury, said the province facilitated the cleanup of contaminants in that city and the same should be done at Grassy Narrows.

"It falls squarely on the plate of the provincial government to protect the health of its citizens," she said. "Right now we know that the health of those citizens is at risk and we know they deserve our protection and we know what to do to protect them: you clean the waterways."

The Green Party of Ontario also issued a call for action.

"The Green Party of Ontario promotes and supports any reasonable means of mitigating the mercury problems... including the physical removal of mercury polluted silt in the river system and the limitation of clear-cut forestry practices in the Whiskey Jack Forest tract to those agreed upon by the First Nation concerned," the Greens said in a news release last week.

now