Mercury in waterways
In a report released in May, environmental scientists determined that there is an unknown source of mercury around where people in Grassy Narrows catch fish.
That prompted allegations there is a hidden pile of mercury barrels poisoning a northern Ontario river. Protesters charge that the mercury dumped in the waterways near the community has existed there for nearly 60 years and has never been cleaned up.
“We know that our river can be made safe,” Simon Fobister, a chief in the Grassy Narrows First Nation, said earlier this year. “Are our lives worth less than others to the government?”
Thursday morning, Premier Kathleen Wynne said her government is “determined” to solve the problem.
“If I had the ability to go to Grassy Narrows with a crew and clean that mercury up I would do it tomorrow,” Wynne told CBC’s Metro Morning.
The challenge, she said, “is that there’s been competing science. And right now there’s a report that says there may actually be a way to clean up the mercury that’s trapped in the sediment at the bottom of the lake and the river.”
However, the science she was given as minister for aboriginal affairs years ago suggested that disturbing the mercury could re-contaminate the water, she said.
The province is committed to finding a solution, she said. Ontario’s environment minister and a group of scientists are headed to the community next week, she said.
“If there is a new technique or methodology we will absolutely find a way to get that cleaned up,” Wynne said.