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Two First Nations communities devastated by mercury poisoning nearly 50 years ago are still feeling the impacts from the metal toxins in one of their key water supplies, a world-renowned expert suggested.
Japanese doctor Masazumi Harada found that of the 160 Grassy Narrows and White Dog residents he examined, 59 per cent were showing signs of ongoing mercury poisoning. Symptoms ranged from tunnel vision and loss of co-ordination to tremors and seizures. 39 per cent had symptoms severe enough to merit a diagnosis of Minamata disease.
Residents of Grassy Narrows had internal mercury levels three times above the Health Canada limit.
People living in White Dog fared even worse, with levels more than seven times above the national guidelines.
The condition has even wormed its way into a new generation. Grassy Narrows resident Judy Da Silva, added she was personally galvanized into action after witnessing the births of numerous babies with brain cancer and other birth defects.
In March 2011 CAA Ontario listed Highway 17 from Thunder Bay Ontario to the Manitoba border one of Ontario's most dangerous roads. On May 20, 2011 then Minister of Transport Kathleen Wynne declared the highways in Ontario the "safest in North America".
3 weeks later on June 12, 2011 a young couple along with their 11 month old daughter were tragically killed in a collision with a transport truck. January 22, 2012 this highway once again claimed the life of a 17 year old in a collision with a transport truck.
There are between 1400 and 1800 transports passing through this region on a daily basis. Soft narrow gravel shoulders, insufficient passing lanes and improper maintenance of these roads make up some of the dangers that one encounters while travelling this stretch of road. In 2007 ORSAR - Ontario Road Safety Annual Report reported 1, 953 accidents between Manitouwadge Ontario and Kenora Ontario with 529 resulting in injury and 19 fatalities.
Twinning this highway to the Manitoba border would greatly reduce the number of accidents and fatalities that occur!! It time for something to be done! Too many precious lives have been lost!!