NEWS
06/27/2016 07:24 EDT | Updated 06/28/2017 01:12 EDT

Wynne says she's 'deadly serious' about wanting to clean up mercury poisoning

TORONTO — Premier Kathleen Wynne insists she's "deadly serious" about wanting to clean up the mercury contamination that has plagued the Grassy Narrows First Nation for decades, but doesn't want to make the situation worse.

Two Ontario cabinet ministers are in the remote community north of Kenora today to talk with local leaders about a recent report that concluded it was possible to clean up the mercury in the English and Wabigoon River systems.

A chemical plant in Dryden dumped 9,000 kilograms of mercury in local waterways in the 1960s, but levels remain dangerously high even though the plant closed in the 1970s.

Wynne says the province will engage in field studies recommended by the report, and look for a possible ongoing source of mercury contamination, but she's worried clean up efforts could stir up more of the chemical from sediment in rivers and lakes.

The premier says she will not proceed with remediation efforts unless experts are convinced they will not do more damage.

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner says the province cannot continue to "drag its feet" on the issue because people's lives are at stake, and he doesn't want the ministers' visit to Grassy Narrows to be just a public relations exercise.

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