Target: Glen Murray, Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
Goal: Clean up toxic watershed and protect the local population from mercury poisoning.
In the 1960s and 70s, dangerous chemicals were released into the English-Wabigoon watershed in Ontario, Canada, resulting in devastating health problems for the local aboriginal population that continue to this day. These chemicals include mercury, which is highly dangerous if consumed. Currently, 1,064 people have requested compensation for health problems related to the chemical spill. The good news is that the mercury can be cleaned up and the watershed restored. The bad news is that the Ontario government refuses to do it.
Cleaning up the watershed would save lives. Mercury poisoning can be fatal, in addition to causing a host of other health issues. Crucial functions impacted by mercury include the immune, digestive, and nervous systems. The World Health Organization has designated mercury one of the ten highest ranked chemicals of major public health concern. One local resident whose nephew died of mercury poisoning said, “It was deteriorating his muscles in his body and pretty soon he was in bed again and we had to take care of him like he was a little child.”
As of now, mercury levels in some waterways are five to ten times as high as they are supposed to be. One of the scientists studying the river, John Rudd, hypothesized that the contamination had a continuing source. He stated that, “The problem is being perpetuated. If we don’t do something to stop the source…the problem will continue for many, many more decades.”
If the mercury isn’t cleaned up, then the local community will continue to suffer dangerous health consequences. Urge the Ontario Environment Ministry to quit dragging its feet and solve this problem once and for all.
Dear Minister Murray,
The mercury contamination in the English-Wabigoon watershed must be cleaned up. It poses a serious danger to the aboriginal population. Because the residents in the surrounding area are poor and have no local grocery store, they are forced to eat the mercury-poisoned fish. Already, 1,064 people have requested compensation for health problems arising from this contamination. Your spokesman says that the environment ministry is sympathetic to the plight of the community there. It is time to act on that sympathy and restore the watershed.
The World Health Organization has named mercury one of the ten highest ranked chemicals of major public health concern. Mercury damages the digestive, immune, and nervous systems. In some cases, it is fatal. One local resident whose nephew died of mercury poisoning stated, “It was deteriorating his muscles in his body and pretty soon he was in bed again and we had to take care of him like he was a little child.”
If the mercury contamination is not addressed, there is every reason to believe it will continue to harm the local community. One of the scientists who researched the latest report on the situation, John Rudd, theorized that the current mercury contamination arises from a continuing source. He said, “The problem is being perpetuated. If we don’t do something to stop the source…the problem will continue for many, many more decades.”
If this problem had been fixed in the 1980s, when the first report on it came out, then it would have cost $14 million. Now it will cost $120 million. How much more will it cost if you continue to wait? Show the people living there that you care about their welfare and restore the rivers they depend on. They don’t need your sympathy. They need your action.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Diego Medrano