SELLERS REPORT: Mercury rising in Grassy Narrows (Dec. 2014)

SELLERS REPORT: Mercury rising in Grassy Narrows (Dec. 2014)

Postby Oscar » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:16 am

SELLERS REPORT: Mercury rising in Grassy Narrows (Dec. 2014)

( . . . KEY Findings below . . .)

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June 15, 2015 - 5:10 pm

A new study says that mercury levels in Grassy Narrows are still rising some fifty years after a pulp mill dumped tonnes of mercury into the northern Ontario watershed.
[ ... hlited.pdf ]

The CBC reports “The report released Monday also reveals how little is known about the environmental and health consequences of the mercury that flowed freely into the English-Wabigoon water system between 1962 and 1970. [ ... -1.3109261 ]

People in Grassy Narrows continue to suffer the effects of mercury poisoning, exhibiting symptoms such as loss of motor function, tingling and weakness in limbs, difficulty speaking and swallowing.

Mercury levels in sediment in Clay Lake and parts of the Wabigoon River are twice the Canadian threshold for remediation and are on the rise in other area lakes where the people of Grassy Narrows continue to catch and eat fish, the report says.

The report's 40 recommendations include:

• Conduct comprehensive health and diet surveys at Grassy Narrows to see the effects of eating fish on health, including the impact on child development and aging-related neurodegenerative diseases. (The most recent Health Canada studies are 20 years old.)
• A comprehensive discussion about remediation of the Wabigoon River that includes Grassy Narrows First Nation.
• Examine the effects of logging on the mercury load in the area and investigate whether any effluent continues to flow into the river from the Dryden mill.
• Review and evaluate existing guidelines for fish consumption and ensure they are communicated to community members in a culturally appropriate way.
• Long-term monitoring of the mercury levels in all lakes that are popular among Grassy Narrows families for subsistence fishing.
• Establish a community-based research station to co-ordinate all 40 recommendations in the report."

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For more information on Grassy Narrows please see our other blogs:

Grassy Narrows legal case against clearcut logging and respect for Treaty Right begins at the Supreme Court of Canada

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Premier Wynne: Give Grassy Narrows A Mercury Free Future For Christmas
[ ... -christmas ]

We've got a few questions about Grassy Narrows
[ ... sy-narrows ]

Grassy Narrows requests environmental assessment of logging plan
[ ... gging-plan ]

Grassy Narrows To Resume Blockage If Clear-Cut Logging Operation Starts
[ ... ion-starts ]


grassy narrows mercury
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Mark Calzavara's blog
Regional Organizer for On-PQ-Nunavut
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REPORT: HUMAN AND ECOLOGICAL HEALTH IN ASUBPEESCHOSEEWAGONG NETUM ANISHINABEK (GRASSY NARROWS FIRST NATION) - report prepared for the ANA-­‐Ontario Mercury Working Group prepared by Patricia Sellers, PhD December 2014 FINAL REPORT [ ... hlited.pdf ]

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All quotes are from: Sellers, P. 2014. Human and Ecological Health in Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation). Report prepared for the ANA‐Ontario Mercury Working Group. 61 p + appendices. Released June 15, 2015.
[ ... -FINAL.pdf ]

QUICK FACTS from the Sellers report on Grassy Narrows


1. Mercury levels are still unsafe.
2. Sediment mercury levels are in the highest risk category.
3. Mercury levels are high enough to trigger remediation.
4. Mercury levels are going up in some areas.
5. People are still sick from mercury, including children.

1. Mercury levels are still unsafe.
“preferred fish, sediment, and crayfish at surveyed sites remain elevated (half a century after the discharge of mercury began) with respect to both background and guideline levels” (p.51)
“In Clay Lake, the sediment mercury has is showing a stabilization trend at a level 8 to 20 times background levels (Sellers, 2005) whereas the latest reports of top predator fish mercury in this lake (Neff et al, 2012) are at a level, possibly a stabilizing one, that is 2 – 15 times above consumption guideline levels.” (p.52)
“[G]iven that mercury levels have not yet returned to normal levels at affected sites, earlier predictions that natural recovery alone would mean sustained levels in fish for decades have been realized.” (p.52)

2. Many areas have mercury at the highest risk level
"the sediment data show that both basins of Clay Lake, one upstream site on the Wabigoon River, and an estimate of the current levels of mercury in the Wabigoon River between Clay Lake and Dryden are above the FEL (frequent adverse effects level) established by Environment Canada and MDDEP.” (p.50)

3. Mercury levels are high enough to trigger remediation
“this places them above the FEL guideline established by the EC and MDDEP. (p.44)
“In the Environmental Risk Assessment used in the St. Lawrence Action Plan 2011-2026, sediments that exceed the FEL level trigger the decision for remediation and whether to do so by sediment containment or removal (as opposed to open water disposal), effectively ending the ERA [Environmental Risk Assessment] process for such sites." p.50
All quotes are from: Sellers, P. 2014. Human and Ecological Health in Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum
Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation). Report prepared for the ANA‐Ontario Mercury Working
Group. 61 p + appendices. Released June 15, 2015.
“FEL: Value used [by Environment Canada] to provide guidance for remediation decisions; the level above which adverse effects are anticipated in most benthic species; indication that the site should be remediated; above which open-water disposal prohibited & other management option should be sought.” (p.44)

4. Some mercury levels are going up
“In Separation Lake the 2000-2010 trend show an increase in mercury for walleye and northern pike (3-8%)” (p.31)
“In the south basin of Ball Lake, the mercury concentration in the surface sediment has been steadily increasing. This means that the sediment accumulating at the surface was higher in mercury in 2004 than it was in the 1970s (Sellers, 2008).” (p.34)
“Ball Lake and most likely all other downstream basins have the potential to graduate from the TEL (threshold effects level) and OEL levels (occasional adverse effects level) to a PEL (probable adverse effects) level over the long term.” (p.45)
“PEL: Value above which adverse biological effects is expected; used to provide guidance for remediation decisions; value above which in depth analysis of advantages vs. disadvantages of remediation should be undertaken.” (p.44)

5. People continue to be sick from mercury
“The people of Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (ANA, also known as Grassy Narrows First Nation) were poisoned by mercury released into the Wabigoon-English River system in the 1960s.” (p. iv)
“people have been adversely affected for a few generations as a result of eating the fish,” (p.51)
“we know that children in ANA and WIN were diagnosed by the MDB with having symptoms consistent with mercury poisoning [between 1990 and 2001].” (p.18)
Takaoka et al, 2014 “showed that older (46 to 76 years) and younger (16 – 45 years) people of ANA show symptoms of mercury poisoning.” (p.25)
“To date, no ongoing surveillance program among children exposed to mercury prenatally has been referenced in the reviewed publications. (p.10)
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Re: SELLERS REPORT: Mercury rising in Grassy Narrows (Dec. 2

Postby Oscar » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:08 pm

WIN! The Council celebrates "a new era of hope" for the Grassy Narrows First Nation

[ ... rst-nation ]

June 28, 2017 - 10:07 am

The Council of Canadians was at the annual River Run event in Toronto in June 2016 demanding justice for Grassy Narrows.

The Council of Canadians is celebrating the long overdue announcement that the mercury contamination at the Grassy Narrows (Asubpeechoseewagong) First Nation in northern Ontario will be cleaned up.

The Toronto Star reports, "The Ontario government is committing $85 million to finally clean up the mercury-contaminated Wabigoon River that has poisoned the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation and nearby Whitedog First Nation for generations. The 'comprehensive remediation action plan' will also involve finding all contaminated sites that could be leaking mercury into the river."

The CBC further explains, "The mercury was dumped into the river by Reed Paper, upstream of the First Nations in Dryden, Ont., in the 1960s and early 1970s. It has never been cleaned up. That has resulted in more than 90 per cent of the population in the communities showing signs of mercury poisoning, according to research released in September 2016 by Japanese experts who have been studying the health of people there for decades."

That article adds, "Preparation work on the river will be completed this summer with remediation starting in early 2018."

Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister says, “This river is the lifeblood of my people. For too long we have suffered from this preventable tragedy. May this be the beginning of a new era of hope for my people, and may justice flow at long last.”

The Council of Canadians congratulates the people of Grassy Narrows along with all organizations and individuals who fought so hard for this outcome.

We first expressed our solidarity with this struggle in April 2010.

For numerous campaign blogs about this issue over the years, please click here:
[ ... narrows%22 ]

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Political Director of the Council of Canadians
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Re: SELLERS REPORT: Mercury rising in Grassy Narrows (Dec. 2

Postby Oscar » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:39 pm

Council of Canadians in solidarity with Maliseet grandmothers opposed to Sisson Brook mine

[ ... brook-mine ]

July 14, 2017 - 11:42 am

(PHOTO: Maliseet grandmothers have set up a camp at the site of the proposed Sisson Brook mine, an hour north of Fredericton.)

The Council of Canadians is opposed to the proposed Sisson Brook mine in New Brunswick that was approved by the Trudeau government in late-June.

Sisson Brook is a proposed open-pit tungsten and molybdenum mine that would be built at the headwaters of the Nashwaak River on Maliseet territory about 100 kilometres north of Fredericton. The mine would also include an unlined tailings pond and an ore processing plant. Molybdenum is used for warplanes and industrial motors.

This past February, CBC reported, "The Todd Corporation, a 130-year-old company based in Wellington, New Zealand — with remarkable similarities to New Brunswick's own Irving family enterprises — has emerged as the chief backer of Northcliff Resources Ltd. and the beleaguered Sisson Brook mine it has been attempting to create."

St. Mary's First Nation Chief Candice Paul has stated, "We assert Aboriginal title to the area where the mine is being proposed ...The mine would destroy this part of our territory, it would never be the same again."

And CBC has reported, "A Maliseet First Nations chief says the New Brunswick government threatened to cancel lucrative tax deals with her band and other Indigenous communities if they didn't sign an agreement on the Sisson mine. Chief Patricia Bernard of the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation says she doesn't support the proposed mine, but her band couldn't risk losing the money it gets from provincial gas, tobacco and sales taxes collected at its Grey Rock commercial development [in Edmundston]."

That article adds, "Premier Brian Gallant [has] announced that the six Maliseet chiefs in the province had signed an 'accommodation agreement' on the proposed $579 million open-pit tungsten mine. That's despite public opposition to the project by five of those chiefs as recently as last April, when they said the project would 'destroy one of our last remaining areas to harvest and practise our culture'."

Chief Bernard says, "We do not approve and at no point do we approve of that mine. But if they're going to go ahead with the mine, we needed to take some sort of accommodation for that loss. The chiefs did not approve of this mine. This accommodation agreement is compensation for something the province is going to do."

Fredericton chapter activist Mark D'Arcy has blogged about a Longhouse that was built near the New Brunswick Legislature to coincide with 'Canada Day' as "a powerful testament to the traditions of the Wolastoqiyik".

D'Arcy highlighted, "After July 3rd, the Longhouse will be disassembled and transported to Sisson Brook in support of the grandmothers taking part in ceremony to protect the land and water from the proposed tungsten- molybdenum open-pit mine. The Wolastoq Grand Council and their non-Indigenous allies (including the chapters of Council of Canadians here in New Brunswick) understand that the risk of a tailings pond spill into the headwaters of the Nashwaak River is simply too great, as demonstrated by the catastrophic Mount Polley spill in British Columbia back in 2014."

On July 6, APTN National News reported, "Maliseet grandmothers have set up camp on the site of a proposed open pit mine."

Construction on the mine is expected to start in the spring of 2018.

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Political Director of the Council of Canadians
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