At the event, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by three of the largest hospitals in Ontario, the federal and provincial governments and Pollution Probe to reduce mercury … It produced sodium hydroxide and chlorine that were used in large amounts for bleaching paper during production by the nearby Dryden Pulp and Paper Company. Mercury in Ontario Learn about the effects of mercury on our health and environment and how Ontario is reducing the amount of mercury … Note: the Ministry of the Environment was created from the Ontario Water Resources Commission and other agencies in 1971. He likely needs Parliament’s help. But why are we tal…. “In 1970, extensive mercury contamination was discovered in this river system, leading to closure of the commercial fishery and some tourism related businesses. It regulated discharges to both air and water. The … During the past decade, a new trend has emerged with regard to mercury pollution. Dryden is located about 130 km upstream from Grassy Narrows. The companies appealed the order in 2013, but the Ontario Court of Appeal sided with the government on December 20, 2017. …6], “In 1985, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed committing government and two companies (Reed Limited, and Great Lakes Forest Products Ltd.) to a one-time compensation payment. “The settlement provided for the establishment of a Mercury Disability Fund and a Mercury Disability Board. But said Resolute is not giving up its legal battle. In 1962, Dryden Chemical Company began operating a chloralkali process plant in Dryden, Ontario using mercury cells. Mercury poisoning refers to a toxicity from mercury consumption. Today, this company is the giant publisher Reed Elsevier. Mercury is a type of toxic metal that comes in different forms within the … Wikipedia continues: “Dryden Chemical Company discharged their effluent directly into the Wabigoon–English River system.”. Ontario agreed to indemnify the mill’s previous and future owners against any further third-party lawsuits relating to mercury pollution in the rivers. The judgement comes a day after the end of the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly, where Grassy Narrows’s Chief Rudy Turtle addressed attendees and held a meeting behind closed doors with federal Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller. Also, government scientists warn that logging would exacerbate mercury pollution, leading the Grassy Narrows community to request an environment assessment of the proposal. These standards identify acceptable pollution levels in water for many pollutants, including mercury. Website built by Northern.co. Stopping this pollution, and compensating those affected, was one of the great environmental causes of the 1970s and early 80s. Both companies were subsidiaries of the British multinational, Reed International. Kursman pointed out that the Supreme Court case deals with the issue of the 1985 indemnity. The judges concluded the site’s previous owners were not protected from financial costs associated with complying with governmental environmental regulations. Ontario allowed the site’s owner at the time, Bowater (that eventually became Resolute after filing for bankruptcy) to abandon the site in 2011. [2] The airborne emissions of mercury continued unabated until the company stopped using mercury cells in its chloralkali process in October 1975; the company closed down in 1976.[2.…. Stories about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. “The Asabiinyashkosiwagong Nitam-Anishinaabeg or the “Grassy Narrows First Nation” and their downstream neighbours, the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations (then known as the “Whitedog Community of the Islington Band of Saulteaux”) sought compensation for loss of jobs and way of life. Mercury poisoning survivors and experts from Minamata, Japan — the site of one of the world’s worst industrial disasters — have arrived in Ontario to help assess the impact of a similar contamination on First Nation people there, a month after a hunger-striking chief prompted the provincial government to re … The contamination damaged the health and livelihood of multiple generations on Grassy Narrows and Islington First Nations downstream. This past spring Pollution Probe hosted an event in Toronto, which provided hospitals in Ontario with information on mercury pollution prevention. It defines an indemnity as a kind of financial protection against future liabilities. Javascript is required to submit this form. On March 26, 1970, the Ontario provincial government ordered Dryden Chemical Company to cease dumping mercury into the river system, although the order did not place any restrictions on airborne emissions of mercury by the company. Part of the First Nations’ MOA settlement ($2 million) was placed in a trust fund (which the Province of Ontario is responsible for replenishing when the balance drops below $100,000). Mercury pollution in the Wabigoon-English River system : a socio-economic assessment of remedial measures. Grassy Narrows was about to enter a mediation process with Canada, Ontario, and the polluting company, Reed Paper Ltd., a multi-national timber corporation, and Chief Fobister wished The more you understand, the easier it is to manage well. What did they think they were doing? The plant used mercury to manufacture chlorine, which was in turn used to bleach paper at the Dryden Paper Company Ltd. Today’s judgement ends a series of legal appeals. With ongoing advisories about toxic fish and warnings to limit consumption, there is no doubt that mercury pollution is a serious problem in the Great Lakes. Enhancing existing activities, developing new ones, and building greater participation by Canadians. This means, the companies will have to begin paying for this process. In a written decision, the court concluded Resolute FP Inc. and Weyerhaeuser Company Limited, previous owners of the site, have to comply with 2011 directorial order from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to “repair the waste disposal site, keep monitoring and testing, and take steps to prevent and deal with leaks.”. Under the Act, no person may release any pollutant into waters unless the person has a permit under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System … But Weyerhaeuser and Resolute argued the Ontario government’s remediation order should have been covered by the indemnity. These levels must be met in order to protect human health, fish, and wildlife. Natural emissions of mercury form two-thirds of the input; manmade releases form about one-third. The Mercury Disability Board website says: “In November 1985, Wabaseemoong Independent Nations (formerly Islington, formerly Whitedog) and Grassy Narrows First Nation negotiated an out of court settlement with the federal government, the province of Ontario, and two paper companies (Reed Incorporated and Great Lakes Forest Products Limited) for all claims due to mercury contamination in the English and Wabigoon river systems.  In 1986, both the federal government and the province of Ontario enacted legislation to carry out the terms of the settlement. The Board administers the trust as well as a benefits mechanism.[6]. Stopping this pollution, and compensating those affected, was one of the great environmental causes of the 1970s and early 80s. It is unclear whom, if anyone, has been monitoring, testing, and maintaining the mercury disposal site since then. In the province of Ontario, individuals injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident can …, Short answer: Probably not on his own. Climate change is predicted to alter many processes in boreal aquatic ecosystems, including mercury (Hg) bioaccumulation in fish. Brett Forester APTN News That mercury can be transformed into a toxic state, called methylation, in plants and then moves up the food chain, contaminating fish and animals that eat fish, including people. Ontario, however, was a first party to the indemnity agreement. In 1962, Dryden Chemicals Ltd. began operating a chlor-alkali plant in Dryden, Ontario. [1] Both companies were subsidiaries of the British multinational, Reed International. © Copyright 2020 Siskinds Law Firm. [1][2] It produced sodium hydroxide and chlorine that were used in large amounts for bleaching paper during production by the nearby Dryden Pulp and Paper Company. Seth Kursman, global and corporate spokesperson at Resolute, told APTN through email that Resolute is “disappointed” with the court’s decision. “Members of Wabaseemoong Independent Nations and Grassy Narrows First Nation whose health may have been affected by mercury poisioning in the English and Wabigoon river systems may be entitled to an award from the Mercury Disability Fund. All rights reserved. Mercury poisoning in Asupeeschoseewagong First Nation (Grassy Narrows), an Anishinaabe community in Northwestern Ontario, is an important example of environmental injustice. In 1969 N. Fimreit investigated mercury pollution throughout Canada and pointed to the basins of Wabigoon and English Rivers in Ontario as being particularly polluted (Showa 44).1The mercury levels in the fish and waterfowls of these areas were shown to be high.1,2,3,4,5The pollution source was found to be Dryden hemical’s … Source of the mercury pollution In 1962, Dryden Chemical Company began operating a chloralkali process plant in Dryden, Ontario using mercury cells. Have we learned anything from all this? According to Wikipedia, “in 1962, Dryden Chemical Company began operating a chloralkali process plant in Dryden, Ontario using mercury cells. We investigated current patterns in fish Hg across a climatic gradient in northern Ontario, Canada, to assess the possible influence of further climate change. “At this juncture, Resolute will continue it’s [sic] monitoring and the posting of financial assurance, while the appeal of the Director’s Order proceeds to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT). Ministry of the Environment. Canada’s Supreme Court sided with Ontario Friday on who bears responsibility for remediating a mercury waste disposal site on Ontario’s Wabigoon and English rivers. In 1986, the Government of Canada’s Grassy Narrows and Islington Indian Bands Mercury Pollution Claims Settlement Act and the Government of Ontario’sEnglish and Wabigoon River Systems Mercury Contamination Settlement Agreement Act, facilitated the creation of the Mercury Disability Fund (MDF) and the Mercury Disability Board, based in Kenora, Ontario. By subscribing to our blog, you will receive an email when a new post is added. The case revolves around the scope of an indemnity granted by Ontario to the mill’s owners in 1985 after the Grassy Narrows litigation. Stop playing hot potato and clean it up.”. Mercury contamination in Wisconsin and Ontario's inland lakes is comparable to that in Minnesota. Canada's national strategy for lamps containing mercury. Mercury, upon reaching aquatic systems, is converted by marine bacteria to methyl-mercury. Guidelines that states issue for inter-state border waters may differ because of differences in how health risks are interpreted. For almost 50 years, the river system—a foundational element of the Grassy Narrows culture—-that the community relies on for food and water has been contaminated with … Get this from a library! [Jack A Donnan; Ontario. 2014: The Supreme Court of Canada rules that Ontario has the right to issue logging permits to the land around Grassy Narrows. In several areas of Canada, including the Arctic, levels of mercury remain high in some wildlife and exposure to mercury through the consumption of fish and certain wildlife may pose health risks to some Canadians. [2] It was estimated that over 9,000 kg of mercury had been dumped by the company into the Wabigoon-English river system between 1962 and 1970. Mercury is released anthropogenically to the environment through processes such as coal burning, metals smelting, gold and silver mining, and chlor-alkali production using mercury or mercury compounds. Fifty years ago last month, in March 1962, Dryden Chemicals began dumping an estimated 10 metric tonnes of mercury into the Wabigoon River, contaminating the fish which formed the  subsistence and economy of three Indigenous communities Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows), Wabaseemoong (White Dog), and some members of Wabauskang who lived at Quibell.  Half a century later residents of Grassy Narrows are still grappling with the long term health, social, and economic impacts.  Mercury levels in Grassy Narrows fish have yet to return to safe levels. “The Mercury Disability Board supervises the administration of the Fund and oversees a claims and appeals process that is available to all Wabaseemoong and Grassy Narrows band members or those who are registered Indians who were customarily resident on one of the two reserves before the first day of October 1985.”. I remain deeply concerned that the investigation into mercury contamination around the Dryden mill has been at a standstill for the past year,” said Turtle in a release. Turtle criticized government for its “paternalistic approach,” reminding the administration of the immediate and ongoing need for action. Mercury occurs naturally in the earth’s crust, but human activities, such as mining and fossil fuel combustion, have led to widespread global mercury pollution. It is also emitted from incinerators and areas flooded by dams, and through the production, breakage, and disposal of products … But Weyerhaeuser and Resolute argued the Ontario government’s remediation order should have been covered by the indemnity. It is unclear if this case sets any environmental precedent, or will impact similar cases of pollution in the future, as it depended upon technical legal arguments around the wording of the indemnity contract. A messy Mohawk civil conflict erupted in the shadow of another mercury spill by the Reed Paper company – this time in Akwesasne, in the region where Ontario, Quebec and New York meet. Considerable amounts of mercury may be added to agricultural land with sludge, fertilizers, lime, and … If you’d like to receive an email when a new post is added to our blog, let us know. Canada’s contribution was $2.75 million. According to Wikipedia, "in 1962, Dryden Chemical Company began operating a chloralkali process plant in Dryden, Ontario using mercury … “Ontario and Domtar must allow trusted experts to find the buried barrels of mercury and investigate contaminated soil and groundwater at the mill site immediately. Grassy Narrows lies about 120 miles east of Winnipeg, with an approximate population of 1490 people (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern … Policy and Planning Branch.] I wish I could be more sure. Nevertheless, the community members have seen little of this money”. Nevertheless, it is a win for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment  impacted by this issue. Grassy Narrows First Nation, or the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation, is a small First Nations community in northwestern Ontario. The mercury disposal site was built in 1971 to contain waste that was previously dumped straight into the river. 1969-70: High levels of mercury are discovered in the water and fish downriver from the plant. We live downstream from that mill and we need answers about the mercury that is still there. The paper and pulp industry in Dryden, Ontario, which began in the early 1900s, resulted in a significant environmental issues through the dumping of mercury by a paper mill into local waters. Resolute, he said, will challenge the legality of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s 2011 remediation order. Today’s judgement ends a series of legal appeals. The court sided with Ontario against Resolute FP Inc. and Weyerhaeuser Company Limited, previous owners of the site. The Ontario Environment Ministry was alerted and “a total of 35 drums of mercury-contaminated soil were removed from the site for disposal at a licensed facility,” the report said. All fields are required unless otherwise stated. Between 1962 and 1970, the company dumped an estimated 9,000 kg of untreated mercury into the English-Wabigoon river system, u… Bowater previously acquired the mill and the waste disposal site from Weyerhaeuser. [1] “. The court’s decision noted that, in 2011, environmental certifiers believed the site had 35 years left in its “contamination lifespan.”. It produced sodium hydroxide and chlorine that were used in large amounts for bleaching paper during production by the nearby Dryden Pulp and Paper Company. 1970: The government of Ontario closes the Wabigoon-English river system commercial fishery, removing one of the primary sources of … Mercury poisoning has become a problem of current interest as a result of environmental pollution on a global scale. So, as bigger fish eat mercury saturated smaller fish, the bigger fish’s tissue then becomes stained … 10 Apr 2012 | By. Methyl-mercury is a neurotoxin that biomagnifies, or increases in dosage, as it works its way up the aquatic food chain. The federal and provincial governments, as well as the two companies involved, paid a total of $16.67 million for the MOA compensation. What contaminants are found in Minnesota fish? A First Nation of about 650 people near Ontario’s border with Manitoba, Grassy Narrows’ water was contaminated by tonnes of mercury dumped into its water system by an upstream paper mill. Mercury was already known to be poisonous, and Minimata Disease had already been discovered in Japan. On March 26, 1970, the Ontario provincial government ordered Dryden Chemical Company to cease dumping mercury into the river system, although the order did not place any restrictions on airborne emissions of mercury by … Investigations initiated in the late 1980's in the northern-tier states of the U.S., Canada, and Nordic countries found that fish, mainly from nutrient-poor lakes and often in very remote areas, commonly have high levels of mercury. Mercury levels in Grassy Narrows fish have yet to return to safe levels. Dryden Chemical had dumped more than 20,000 pounds of mercury into the Wabigoon. Ontario agreed to indemnify the mill’s previous and future owners against any further third-party lawsuits relating to mercury pollution in the rivers. Mercury pollution is a worsening global problem that is caused by coal combustion, gold mining, and other human activities, and has myriad adverse impacts to biodiversity all over the world. Considering it is under review by the ERT, we cannot say more at this juncture.”, Government ‘repeat offender’ when it comes to First Nations kids, Fearful for their dinner plate: Young people concerned about food sustainability, Get the top stories delivered to your inbox. Mercury emitted into the air eventually settles into water or onto land where it can be washed into water. A new study published in the Journal of Ornithology by researchers at Great Hollow and the University of Western Ontario … Mercury pollution is produced or released: by natural sources, such as forest fires and volcanic activity of the chief, Simon Fobister, concerning a case of immense mercury pollution on the reserve. ‘I can’t breathe, I know there’s somethi... Inuit organization in the N.W.T. You can unsubscribe at any time by sending an email to us at [email protected] with the word “unsubscribe” in the subject line. A majority of judges decided that the 1985 indemnity only applied to third-party legal claims, such as the ones brought forward by Grassy Narrows. “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, the stalling must end on the cleanup of that mill site. Cohabiting populations of walleye … Mercury pollution in the Great Lakes: A look at how it impacts fish and what must be done to make them safe to eat 02/04/2018 / By Isabelle Z. 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