Latest News

Province finds mercury-contaminated soil and possibly buried metal on Dryden site upstream from Grassy Narrows

 

Confirmation of what Earthroots and The Toronto Star found at the site a year ago.

"Last January, the Star and the environmental group Earthroots dug several holes in the area identified by Glowacki and had the soil tested at a lab. The holes were dug behind the riverside factory. The soil showed mercury readings up to 80 times natural levels."

 

By JAYME POISSON Investigative Reporter
DAVID BRUSER Investigative Reporter

 

The province has found mercury in soil and possibly buried metal in an area upstream from Grassy Narrows First Nation and Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) Independent Nations that was identified by a former paper mill worker as a dumping ground for mercury-filled barrels.

The Environment Ministry’s findings confirm results found by the Toronto Star one year ago.

The mercury-tainted soil and the metallic underground “anomalies” were found in a clearing identified by Kas Glowacki as the area in Dryden, Ont., where he and a small crew dumped 50 drums of salt and mercury in 1972.

The province says it will dig up the clearing for more answers.

“We are continuing our site assessment and will be excavating areas where there are larger anomalies this coming spring,” said an Environment Ministry spokesperson, Gary Wheeler, in an email to the Star.

Between 1962 and 1970, 10 tonnes of mercury from the Dryden paper mill, then owned by Reed Paper, were dumped into the Wabigoon River, which flows to the two Indigenous communities in northern Ontario.

Mercury contamination, a serious health risk, has plagued the people there for decades. Dangerous and persistently high levels of mercury found in the river sediment and fish in the river system suggest there is an ongoing source.

Until recently, provincial officials had said the site was not an ongoing source of mercury to the river system. Scientist John Rudd has said that, historically, paper mills have been known to be sources of contamination long after they stopped using mercury in the paper-bleaching process.

Mercury has not been used in paper production at the site in decades, and there is no suggestion that Domtar, several owners removed from Reed Paper, is responsible for any ongoing source of mercury.

Last January, the Star and the environmental group Earthroots dug several holes in the area identified by Glowacki and had the soil tested at a lab. The holes were dug behind the riverside factory. The soil showed mercury readings up to 80 times natural levels.

 

Read the full article in The Star.