Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cabinet Ministers to Meet Grassy Narrows Leaders to Talk about Mercury Poisoning

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Cabinet Ministers to Meet Grassy Narrows Leaders to Talk about Mercury Poisoning

Article excerpt

Cabinet ministers to visit Grassy Narrows

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TORONTO - Two Ontario cabinet ministers will head to the Grassy Narrows First Nation next week to talk about how to deal with mercury contamination that has plagued the remote northwestern community for decades.

Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister David Zimmer said he and Environment Minister Glen Murray, along with technical experts, will sit down with Grassy Narrows leaders to discuss various reports about the mercury and how to clean it up.

"There's been stories in the media, and there are reports floating around, and I think it's time for Minister Murray and I, and our technical people and the First Nations' technical people, to sit down and try to work through to see just what the situation is," Zimmer said Tuesday.

The government wants to find out any new information from the community and sort out the different reports on the mercury contamination before deciding what it can do to help, added Zimmer.

"Once we've determined what reports are on the table, and what reports perhaps should be on the table, then we'll figure out a course of action," he said.

"This is a first step in getting to the bottom of this."

Some Grassy Narrows residents suffered mercury poisoning since the Dryden Chemical Co. dumped 9,000 kilograms of it into the Wabigoon and English River systems during the 1960s. The government closed the local fishery that formed the basis of the Grassy Narrows economy, but some residents ignored the order to stop eating the fish.

Chief Simon Fobister Sr. said he wants an investigation into another possible source of contamination after a former worker at the Dryden mill wrote the government saying he had buried more than 50 barrels of mercury and salt in a pit in 1972.

"No more fancy talk. No more studies," Fobister said Tuesday. "We just want it cleaned up."

Murray said the environment ministry took some samples from the area June 6 in response to the claim about the barrels of mercury -- the results are still pending -- but officials still haven't located where they were buried. …

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