Grassy Narrows Demands Action Amidst Renewed Mercury Contamination Concerns

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THUNDER BAY – NEWS – Recent research has reignited fears within Grassy Narrows First Nation, revealing that the mercury poisoning crisis plaguing the community is far from over. Chief Rudy Turtle expressed both frustration and a lack of surprise at the findings, stating, “We’ve always suspected something was still being dumped into the Wabigoon River.”

A study conducted by Western University biologist Brian Branfireun has confirmed that the Dryden pulp and paper mill’s effluent is contributing to elevated mercury levels in the river. Branfireun explained, “The chemistry of the mill’s discharge is amplifying the mercury problem.”

The study found that high concentrations of sulphate and organic matter in the mill’s emissions are stimulating the formation of methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury. This finding directly links the mill’s discharge to increased mercury levels in downstream fish.

Dryden Fibre Canada, the mill’s current owner, responded by stating they “care deeply about these matters” and will review the findings before commenting further. However, Chief Turtle emphasizes the need for accountability from both the Canadian and Ontario governments for their regulatory failures.

The historical mercury contamination has had devastating consequences for Grassy Narrows residents, with many diagnosed with Minamata disease, a severe neurological disorder. Chief Turtle hopes the new research will prompt action to restore the Wabigoon River’s health and hold responsible parties accountable.

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