Welcome to AMMSA.COM, the news archive website for our family of Indigenous news publications.

Mercury levels at high threshold

Article Origin


Compiled by Shari Narine







A newly-released government-commissioned report says mercury levels in the sediment of Grassy Narrows’ Wabigoon River remain up to 20 times above natural levels, while fish are up to 15 times above consumption guideline levels. These findings place the river above the frequent adverse effects level—the highest risk threshold used by Environment Canada to trigger remediation in the St. Lawrence environmental risk assessment. The cause for environmental health concern was the result of 9,000 kg of mercury being dumped by a paper mill upstream in the 1960s. “When we shared our land and water we expected it to be kept pristine, but they have failed and destroyed our culture as a result,” said Chief Roger Fobister Sr. “We want that mercury cleaned up. There is no way around it because it is a sacred trust to take care of our land.” The report finds that in Ball Lake, close to Grassy Narrows, the mercury concentration in the surface sediment is higher in mercury now than it was in the 1970s. The report warns that all other downstream basins have the potential to increase over time to a level above which adverse biological effects are expected and an in depth analysis of remediation options is needed. The report was completed in December 2014, but kept confidential until its author, Patricia Sellers, could present the report to the community in Grassy Narrows on June 12.