A new study has found that high levels of mercury are contaminating the Wabigoon-English River system near the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario.
John Rudd, is one of the authors of the report, during a skype interview on Tuesday he told reporters the study began last summer by taking samples of the mud in Wabigoon Lake and Wabigoon River.
The concentration in the lake was low, but the levels in the river downstream were 100 times higher, which suggests there’s a leak from an old paper mill plant, he said.
Rudd says further studies need to be done.
“What we’re suggesting is take mercury sampling on the riverbanks to see if we can pin point where mercury is leaking into the river,” said Rudd.
Once the leak has been found, the Ontario Government said it will install treatment plants to clean the contamination up.
“It would be a first major step towards remediating the Wabigoon river system”, said Rudd.
Chief Simon Fobister of Grassy Narrows First Nations, said his community has lived with the effects of mercury contamination for more than 40 years.
He said it has destroyed the commercial fishing industry, their livelihood, and has caused health issues.
Fobister said he is satisfied that the Ontario Government has agreed to clean up the leakage.
But he’s calling on both the federal and provincial governments to acknowledge his community has suffered and continues to suffer from mercury contamination.
“If Canada and Ontario would state there’s recognition of mercury poisoning in our communities it would go a long way to convince the public and convince the medical society that its true, we have been poisoned by mercury,” he said.