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'We want our river cleaned:' Grassy Narrows tribe poisoned with mercury DECADES ago now pleading for government cleanup

Mercury contamination

(NaturalNews) A recent expose by the Toronto Star has given new life to calls for the Ontario government to clean up a decades-old mercury spill that continues to poison the fish and people of the English-Wabigoon River system.

Most notably affected by the contaminated waters are the Grassy Narrows and White Dog First Nations, which have historically depended on fishing and nature tourism for their livelihoods.

After the Star revealed that a government report had recommended cleaning up the river as far back as 1984, protesters marched on the provincial legislature, delivering 35,000 signatures demanding that the government clean up the river at once.

"We want our river cleaned," said Grassy Narrows resident Chrissy Swain, addressing the crowd by phone. "Water is sacred, water is life."

Residents poisoned for decades

Between 1962 and 1970, a now-closed paper and pulp mill about 60 miles (100 km) upstream of Grassy Narrows dumped 10 metric tons of mercury into the English-Wabigoon River system. To this day, fish pulled from the river contain 150 times the maximum daily mercury intake recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women. Even in adults, mercury poisoning can lead to tunnel vision; impaired hearing, speech and finger movement; and tremors. In 2014, the Ontario government noted that said "symptoms consistent with mercury poisoning are still evident" at Grassy Narrows.

According to documents obtained by the Toronto Star, Ontario's environment minister recommended in 1984 that the government clean up the river. He was responding to a scientific report warning that without a cleanup the fish in the area's rivers and lakes would remain toxic for generations. That report recommended a cleanup technique called resuspension, which consists of covering the bottoms of rivers and lakes with clean sediment to lock up mercury and make it inaccessible. The report also recommended limited dredging. A pilot project conducted in 1983 had found that resuspension lowered mercury levels in fish 10-fold.

The government took no action.

"As a result, the people of Grassy Narrows continue to be needlessly exposed to high concentrations of toxic mercury, in their water and food, which is making them sick," said Faisal Moola, Ontario director of the David Suzuki Foundation, an environmental nonprofit. "Grassy Narrows can be cleaned up and the fish in its lakes and rivers can become safe to eat again — but only with political will to take action."

Government dodging responsibility

In June, a new scientific report was released that recommended a resuspension-based cleanup plan. The Ontario government replied to this report by claiming that scientists have recommended against mercury cleanup. When questioned on this point, spokespeople have only been able to provide evidence warning against "bank-to-bank dredging," a technique that no one is recommending.

The government's evasiveness on this issue is characteristic of its overall approach. Following the June report's warning that mercury may still be leaking into the river from the old paper plant, the government admitted that it has not tested mercury levels at that location since 1980.

The government was also forced to admit recently that it had, for seven months, ignored warnings from a whistleblower who admitted that in the 1970s he had been part of a crew that illegally buried several drums full of mercury. Only after a Star expose of the whistleblower's claims, did the government agree to test groundwater in the area and search for the buried waste.

If you're worried about mercury and other heavy metals, try supplementing your diet with Clean Chlorella from the Natural News Store. Although chlorella has been touted for its ability to help your body naturally flush out heavy metals, many chlorella supplements actually contain heavy metals themselves. But Clean Chlorella has been tested for low heavy metal content, and also contains all the nutritional benefits of this superfood.

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