Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister is more than disappointed. He says he'll be taking information from a new report on mercury contamination, when he meets with provincial officials at the end of the month.
"I'm going to be very clear that we're clearly disappointed with the dishonesty and the treachery that we've been dealing with for years and years. Now, we're going to deal with it," the chief said, during a short interview Saturday.
A settlement agreement was reached 30 years ago with Whitedog and Grassy Narrows members. However, researchers are finding evidence the mercury is still leaking from a mill site in Dryden. Further, a report released yesterday says the province knew about it.
"At many times, they (the province) seemed to indicate that no more mercury was leaking from the old Dryden mill site, and we're very disappointed they didn't tell the truth about what was really happening," the chief added.
The costs associated with cleaning up the mill site has been the subject of a case before the Ontario Court of Appeal. Hearings were held earlier this year, but no decision has yet been rendered.
The First Nations have been working with the province on a remediation plan for the English River and Wabigoon River waterway. The chief says work on plans to clean up the river system has progressed over the last two years, but it's not clear how the ongoing leakage of mercury impacts these plans.
Fobister is hopeful a filtration system can be used to take mercury out of the waterway, before it gets downstream to the communities. The chief didn't want to comment on impacts for neighbouring communities, such as the City of Dryden.
The province's environment commissioner highlighted the issue, in her latest report. The current owners of the mill, Domtar, have said they don't use mercury in their processes at the plant, and they say a previous agreement between the province and previous owners means Queen's Park is responsible for remediation costs.
Previous governments had hoped the mercury pollution would decrease over time. However, the news of new sources of pollution are forcing planners and residents to change their opinion of how to deal the situation.
For more information:
Report on mercury testing
Mercury legacy 'frightening,' commissioner
Good Choices, Bad Choices: Environmental Rights and Environment Protection in Ontario
Province announces $85M for mercury clean up
Suzuki visits Grassy Narrows
Update on mercury clean up
Mercury delay pointless, Campbell
Decision on mercury clean up pending
Report shows mercury still leaking into river system
Grassy Narrows and Islington Indian Bands Mercury Pollution Claims Settlement Act (1986)
The Grassy Narrows & Islington Band Mercury Disability Board: A Historical Report 1986-2001 (A Condensed Version)