Evidence of mercury dump site discovered upstream from Grassy Narrows

Activists have found evidence of a mercury dump site.


Call Premier Wynne and demand a cleanup!

1. Read the instructions and list of demands below 
2. Call the Premier’s office at 416-325-1941 

Activists have found mercury contaminated soil behind the Dryden paper mill, upstream from Grassy Narrows. Today, the Toronto Star reported on their discovery. 

The underground mercury contamination was found in the precise area where retired mill worker Kas Glowacki confessed he had “haphazardly” dumped drums of mercury and salt into a pit in 1972. Glowacki was working at the Dryden, ON pulp and paper mill that dumped 9 tonnes of mercury into the English-Wabigoon river system in the 1960s.

When Glowacki’s letter came to light this summer, Grassy Narrows residents were shocked that the province had not taken immediate action to investigate the dump site. “For us, for me, as a mother and grandmother, I feel it’s a betrayal to my people, the Anishinabek, that this was not brought forward,”Judy Da Silva said. 

The province sent inspectors to the mill site this summer, and Minister Murray told the legislature in November that “there are no barrels buried.” But they did not ask Glowacki to pinpoint where he had dumped the barrels. They looked in the wrong spot and they took no soil samples. 

Red circles indicate where Glowacki says he dumped mercury. The sample from Waypoint 16 had up to nearly 4,000 parts-per-billion (ppb) of mercury, while Waypoint 06 had less than 1 ppb.


Using a map drawn by Glowacki, activists conducted a search for the 1972 dump site and took soil samples behind the Dryden mill in November. Lab tests have now found that the soil has up to 1000 times more mercury than other uncontaminated soil in the area. This level of mercury can only come from an industrial source. 

Mercury levels in Grassy Narrows’ river remain dangerously high, 40 years after Ontario says dumping from the pulp and paper mill stopped. Fish near Grassy Narrows are the most mercury-contaminated in the province. Grassy Narrows is a fishing community, and this contamination has damaged their traditional way of life. 

Scientists say that the persistently high levels of mercury in fish in Clay Lake on the Wabigoon River indicate that there is an ongoing source of mercury. Could Kas Glowacki’s mercury dump, and others like it, still be poisoning the Wabigoon River and Grassy Narrows to this day?

Ontario says that the Dryden mill is not a source of mercury, but they have not tested the river for mercury since the 1980s.

Call Premier Wynne: the province must act immediately to clean up this toxic site and clean the river!  

Call-in instructions:

  • Call the Premier’s office at 416-325-1941 and leave a message on the answering machine if you reach the voicemail.
  • If you speak to the office staff, ask to leave a message for the Premier.
  • State your full name.
  • If you live in Ontario, make sure to include that in your message.
  • Tell the Premier that you stand with Grassy Narrows First Nation in demanding that 1) the government find and stop the ongoing source of mercury and 2) clean up the mercury poisoning from their river.

Talking points:

Ontario and Canada must immediately:

  • Test the entire Dryden mill site for mercury to locate any toxic dumps.
  • Find and stop the ongoing source of mercury in the Wabigoon River.
  • Clean up the English-Wabigoon River system until the fish are safe to eat.
  • Meet Grassy Narrows’ demands for mercury justice including a mercury treatment center, fair compensation, and an environmental health monitoring station.