Grassy Narrows wins $85 million for a mercury cleanup!

Grassy Narrows wins $85 million for a mercury cleanup

After decades of unrelenting pressure from Grassy Narrows activists and their supporters, the Ontario government announced last month that they had dedicated $85 million to the remediation of the English-Wabigoon river system, which was contaminated with 9 tonnes of mercury in the 1960s by a paper mill.

This incredible step forward should be cause for celebration, but concerns remain that it can be undone by future governments.

To safeguard the cleanup commitment and dedicated funding, the Wynne government must put the funds into a trust that is accountable to Grassy Narrows.

Questions also remain about the Domtar mill site upstream of Grassy Narrows. There is strong evidence that it continues to leak dangerous amounts of mercury into the Wabigoon River, but it is unclear how and when it will be investigated and cleaned up. Ontario’s cleanup promise rings hollow without action to find and stop the ongoing source.

In late May, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said it would order Domtar to investigate the mill site for an ongoing source of mercury. Nearly 2,000 supporters sent letters to the Ministry urging them to instead take immediate action, because the draft order has no deadline for finding or stopping any ongoing leaks, and Domtar has vowed to fight it in court.

Grassy Narrows’ fight for mercury justice will not end with a river cleanup.

Grassy Narrows continues to demand fair compensation for mercury survivors, a mercury care home, quality health care, and an environmental monitoring station.

Read more about the announcement:

“Ontario commits $85 million to clean up ‘gross neglect’ at Grassy Narrows,” June 27, Toronto Star

“Commitment to clean up mercury near Grassy Narrows is welcome and overdue,” June 29, Toronto Star Editorial:

“Ontario announces $85M to clean up mercury near Grassy Narrows, Wabaseemoong First Nations,” June 27, CBC News

“David Suzuki ‘delighted’ that $85M slated for mercury cleanup,” June 28, Toronto Star