Grassy Narrows First Nation declares state of emergency over drinking water

A northwestern Ontario First Nation has declared a state of emergency, saying its drinking water contains potentially dangerous chemicals.

GRASSY NARROWS, Ont. — A northwestern Ontario First Nation has declared a state of emergency, saying its drinking water contains potentially dangerous chemicals.

The Grassy Narrows First Nation says it has been under a boil-water advisory for more than a year, but even boiling won’t remove the chemicals.

The community near Kenora says testing this summer found tricholormethanes, haloacetic acids and hexaclorcyclopentadiene — all disinfectant byproducts considered possible carcinogens.

They also say that government tests last year found the reserve’s drinking water was at 120 times the safe level for turgidity, a measure of the relative clarity or cloudiness of water.

A recent report commissioned by the Ontario government and Grassy Narrows also found waterways in and around the community appear to have high mercury levels decades after they were polluted.

Both provincial and federal governments have said they continue to work to address the issue of mercury contamination.

For now, Grassy Narrows says it is delivering bottled water door to door to ensure residents have safe drinking water.

“We are scared that our drinking water has been unsafe for a long time now and the federal government does not seem to care at all,” Coun. Rudy Turtle said in a statement. “Our people have already been poisoned by mercury and now we have to deal with unsafe drinking water.”

The community says it lacks the funds to repair and upgrade its water treatment facility.

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