During River Run week, 28-31 July 2014, members of the Grassy Narrows First Nation obtained and responded to a 2010 scientific report commissioned by the Mercury Disability Board, which includes representatives from both the provincial and federal governments. While not yet released to the public nor even initially shared with the community, the report confirms that community members have suffered from mercury-related neurological disorders and notes â€ś[t]he rate of residents reporting neurological symptoms was very high for such a small population.â€ť
The mercury crisis affecting Grassy Narrows began in 1962, after a nearby paper mill poisoned the Wabigoon-English river system, contaminating local fish and communities. The Dryden Chemicals pulp and paper mill leaked an estimated 9000 kilograms of mercury into the river system between 1962 and 1970. By 1970, Grassy Narrows had to stop commercial and sport fishing due to high levels of mercury contamination. At the time, the Ontario government maintained the fish were safe for consumption.
Neither the Ontario government nor Canada has apologized for a single case of mercury poisoning and has refused to acknowledge mercury poisoning occurred. Health Canada stopped testing community members for mercury poisoning in the 1990â€™s citing minimal risk. The report, however, demonstrates Grassy Narrows mercury survivors are not receiving necessary medical care and that the problem is ongoing due to long term impacts of past exposure and the potential for impact on fetuses and children, even at government-established â€ślowâ€ť mercury levels