Water report panned

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 14/97) - A Yellowknives Dene official says a federal report released last week doesn't give the real picture about tainted water in Back Bay.

"People are getting sick with leukemia here and it's affected traditional food like fish," said Fred Sangris, project co-ordinator of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

His views contradict the results of the study produced by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development that began in August 1992 and was released to the public last week.

The report says water in Yellowknife and Back bays is safe to drink, safe to swim in and the fish are edible.

Dave Milburn, manager of water resources at DIAND, said the report wasn't biased.

"It was sent to Health Canada through Mackenzie Regional Health," he said. "We have to rely on Health Canada for their interpretation."

But Sangris said the dangers of Giant and Con mines are being covered up in an attempt to keep the mines open. He also maintains that the project started out as a joint venture between DIAND and local aboriginal groups, but ended up with DIAND taking over.

Milburn countered that the study was based on the concerns of the Yellowknives Dene and they were also involved in its design.

Sangris said he is aware of another study released in recent years that revealed less than comfortable evidence of mine contamination.

Milburn said he isn't familiar with the study.

"I don't really know what report he's talking about," he said. "It wasn't done by us because we would have released it to the public."