Ontario Greens- Unacceptable Community has been under Water-boil for a Year

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Action needed now for Grassy Narrows, says GPO. image: cpcml.ca

Action needed now for Grassy Narrows, says GPO. image: cpcml.ca

(Queen’s Park) – The Liberal government must take immediate action in Grassy Narrows. It is unacceptable in Ontario that this community has suffered over 40 years of mercury poisoning and still does not have access to safe drinking water.

On Thursday, the Grassy Narrows First Nation declared an emergency due to a prolonged lack of access to safe drinking water.
“How much worse does the problem need to get before the Liberal government finally takes action?” asks GPO leader Mike Schreiner.
“The GPO is calling for mitigation of the continuing mercury contamination and drinking water problems in the area,” adds Schreiner. “This includes the physical removal of mercury polluted silt in the river system and the limitation of clear-cut forestry practices in the Whiskey Jack Forest to those agreed upon by the First Nation.”
The community has been under a boil-water advisory for over a year.  Issues with water in the community have been persistent for at least 15 years. In 2013, Health Canada  issued a “Do Not Consume” order because of the presence of uranium in well water.
image: rrwatershed.org

image: rrwatershed.org

People in Grassy Narrows continue to suffer the effects of mercury poisoning, fifty years after a Dryden pulp mill dumped its effluent into the watershed. Community members exhibit symptoms such as the loss of motor function, tingling and weakness in limbs, difficulty speaking and swallowing.
Leaders at Grassy Narrows First Nation want to see all logging near their community stopped as they fear it is adding to the problems associated with mercury contamination. Grassy Narrows First Nation Deputy Chief Randy Fobister says mercury contamination destroyed the community’s commercial fishery in the 1970s. He says if clear cutting continues the local economy will never recover.
Domtar's (Montreal based/owned) Dryden Pulp Mill was shut down in 2008.

Domtar’s (Montreal based/owned) Dryden Pulp Mill was shut down in 2008.

“It’s unacceptable that the people of Grassy Narrows are continuing to suffer.” says Schreiner. “Everyone in Ontario should have access to clean drinking water. The Liberal’s need to address this issue now.”

1 Comment to Ontario Greens- Unacceptable Community has been under Water-boil for a Year

  1. Open Letter: Premier, it’s time for action in Grassy Narrows

    (Toronto, ON): GPO leader Mike Schreiner sent the following letter today to Premier Wynne:

    Dear Hon Premier Wynne:

    Now is the time to clean up the mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows. Your government cannot continue to drag its feet on this issue. People’s lives are at stake.

    Sending Ministers Zimmer and Murray to Grassy Narrows today is a good step. But this cannot be a public relations exercise – real, concrete steps must be taken.

    Scientists have concluded that it is possible to clean up the mercury contamination in the English-Wabigoon River system. There are also reports indicating there may be a source of ongoing contamination.

    Over 500 citizens in the past week have taken the time to write your government a letter demanding action to clean up the mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows. Thousands attended a rally and march at Queen’s Park.

    I ask you to listen to these concerns. We do not want to live in a province that allows its people to be poisoned. It’s clear a strategy of natural remediation is not working, and it’s been way too long without additional action.

    Your government has pledged action on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation report. Specifically, Minister Zimmer promised “Ontario is working to provide the resources and space for Indigenous languages, traditions, teachings and governance to thrive.”

    Premier, how can the Grassy Narrows First Nation thrive when the river they rely on for water, food and economy continues to be poisoned by mercury?

    I urge your government to take immediate action to clean up the mercury problems in Grassy Narrows. This includes physically removing mercury from polluted silt in the river system and limiting clear cut foresting in the area.

    I appreciate your attention to this important issue.

    Sincerely,

    Mike Schreiner
    Leader, GPO