River detectives dive into a polluted industrial past

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – Two local scientists want your input as they uncover clues that link sediment in the bottom of the St. Lawrence River with the current health of the water.

River Institute scientists Dr. Roxanne Razavi and Matt Windle will lead a talk for the Science and Nature on Tap series at Schnitzels in Cornwall on Wednesday, Nov. 5. The free event starts at 7 p.m. 

“This talk will be of special interest to all of us who make our home along the St. Lawrence River and care about its current status and its future,” said Karen Douglass Cooper, the Communications Officer for the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences.

From studying mercury along the shores of the St. Lawrence to examining the human impacts of mercury in China, Razavi boasts an impressive resume of scientific work.

Meanwhile, her fellow colleague has explored fish species at risk and both fresh and salt water ecosystems from coastal and inland waters across the country.

In the summer, the river detectives joined forces to investigate the upper St. Lawrence by taking core samples of sediment.

“For 30 years, since being declared a hotspot in the Great Lakes area, the St. Lawrence has been in a recovery mode and monitoring the progress is part of the process,” said Douglass. “Is the River healing? This session will explore what the science can tell us.”

Gathering samples from the river bottom provides updated information for the Cornwall Sediment Strategy Program, a River Protection Plan developed ten years ago by local, provincial, and federal partners. 

The program is administered by the Raisin Region Conservation Authority and helps to safeguard vulnerable areas of the river from stirring up old buried contamination.

“The detection of certain types of mercury and where it is found can provide important data to researchers seeking to determine how the St. Lawrence River is faring with respect to recovery from its polluted industrial past,” she said.

Space for the session being held at Schnitzels European Flavours is limited. For more information or to reserve a seat, call (613) 936-6620 (ext. 229), e-mail kcooper@riverinstitute.ca or visit www.riverinstitute.ca.

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