Disaster Management through the Sociological Study of Methylmercury Contamination

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Danielle MILLER-BELAND, Concordia University, Canada
The research which I am conducting looks at the social implications and impact of large scale methylmercury contamination, notably focusing on the well-known case in Grassy Narrows, Ontario, caused by the Reed Paper Company in the 1960s, and the long struggle in which the contaminated First Nations communities had to go through in order to receive the help and reconciliation that was due to them and to begin a proactive environmental cleanup, a decision taken by the government only just recently.

My research focuses on the historical and social aspects of methylmercury contamination, the impact it has on those affected by it, and how certain social actions influenced, or swayed, the recovery process of these communities. My studies do not only look at Canadian cases, but globally, comparing and contrasting different countries worldwide in order to understand the impacts caused by certain social actions and perceptions and their effects on the long term recovery process from the contamination. This has allowed me to undertake a more global understanding of contamination and which social actions have what kind of long term effects in the recovery process, not only for the environment, but those affected by the disaster.

Through my experiences travelling and studying the impact of methylmercury in different societies, such as Japan and Slovenia, my research now highlights the value of social action in Canada in regards to environmental disaster and the importance of social reaction on the long term consequences in order to construct better policies and responses when faced with disasters. The ultimate goal is to ensure more positive and proactive responses to reduce the harmful consequences in environmental disasters and their impacts on Canadians.