Ontario’s minister of environment and climate change, Glen Murray, issued a statement to announce an $85-million funding commitment to the remediation of the English-Wabigoon River system.
“As an immediate next step and in addition to previous funding commitments, Ontario is providing $85 million in dedicated funding for the remediation of the English-Wabigoon River system. This historic financial commitment will be devoted to the cost of the remediation, including the engineering design and implementation of remediation measures and long-term monitoring. These funds will be spent in partnership with First Nations through the negotiation of a collaborative governance model. The remediation options that are chosen will be based on the scientific fieldwork that is currently underway and in partnership with First Nations.”
Mercury contamination has been a decades-long issue for the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation, located in northwestern Ontario near the border with Manitoba. The mercury contamination is thought to be the result of a leak from an old chemical plant in Dryden.
“This $85 million commitment builds on the current scientific work and ongoing community engagement, funded by the province. To date, the province has provided $2.5 million for this accelerated science, sampling and analysis work, which will inform the extent of the mercury contamination and determine which remediation options may be the most appropriate for each site. We will be providing an additional $2.7 million this year to accelerate the work now underway. This brings the total budget to $5.2 million for scientific pre-remediation work in the English Wabigoon River system.
We are determined to right these historic wrongs, and we realize that actions speak louder than words. For these reasons, we are committed to working with the First Nations and respecting their leadership. The $85 million commitment is a definitive action that will ensure we can fulfil our commitments to the local First Nations and the remediation of the river system.”