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Grassy Narrows cleanup will ‘take as long as it takes,’ Wynne says

Two First Nations communities near the English-Wabigoon River system in northwestern Ontario have dealt with mercury poisoning since a paper mill dumped it into the water in the 1960s


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TORONTO—Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne says cleaning up a mercury-contaminated river that has plagued two First Nation communities for decades “will take as long as it takes.”

Wynne, whose government committed $85 million for the remediation of the English-Wabigoon River system in northwestern Ontario, says preliminary work is starting now.

She says the infrastructure for the remediation is already being put in place and ongoing contamination must first be stopped before the mercury is cleaned up.

She gave no timeline for when residents of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nation can expect the river system to be clean, but says it has to be done.

People in those communities have dealt with mercury poisoning since a paper mill in Dryden, Ont., dumped the substance into the water in the 1960s, but mercury concentrations haven’t decreased in 30 years and are causing ongoing health and economic impacts.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is taking her election campaign to Grassy Narrows today.


Related: Mercury contamination from papermill afflicting northwestern Ontario First Nation


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