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.
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.
“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.”