When the Catalyst Paper Company’s pulp mill was renovated in the 1980s, ancestral remains of the Halalt First Nation were found underneath a cement helicopter pad. The discovery was yet another piece of evidence that the mill, located in Crofton, B.C. about 45 kilometres north of Victoria, was built on culturally sensitive First Nation’s territory.
But according to the Halalt First Nation, cultural damage is only a part of the harm caused by the industrial facility, operating since 1957, that is responsible for the release of endocrine-disrupting and cancer-causing dioxins and furans into the local environment.
According to Eli Enns, director of operations for the Halaht, the ongoing pollution in the region is wreaking havoc on the local environment.
“You have the Crofton mill itself which has unfortunately cemented right over sacred burial sites of the Halalt Coast Salish peoples,” Enns says in a new film, premiered by the nation here on DeSmog Canada (see below).
“It has totally destroyed the estuary and traditional food systems for the Halalt. It has inundated the airshed with all kinds of toxic pollutants which will probably have long lasting and unpredictable effects on the health of the Halalt people and other local communities.”
Dioxins and furans, the byproduct of a chlorine bleaching process, bioaccumulate in the food chain and are stored in the fatty tissues of animals. The presence of dioxins in animals has been linked to birth defects, spontaneous abortions and tumors.