Harrietsfield resident calls for swift cleanup of contaminated site in Nova Scotia

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Harrietsfield resident calls for swift clean-up of contaminated site after latest court victory
WATCH ABOVE: A Harrietsfield resident who has been fighting for a contaminated site to be cleaned up for years says the latest court victory should spur the government into action. Marieke Walsh explains – Mar 13, 2017

A Harrietsfield resident is calling on the government to enforce longstanding clean-up orders for a contaminated site after the latest court challenge against the orders was rejected.

“I would just like to see action now,” Marlene Brown said on Monday. She and two other people intervened in the court case.

Justice Timothy Gabriel dismissed a numbered company’s appeal of a 2016 ministerial clean-up order last week.  The ruling to uphold the order against 3076525 Nova Scotia Ltd. (307) follows other court victories for residents and the government in 2015 and 2016.

READ MORE: Harrietsfield residents still waiting for safe drinking water

The government says the defunct RDM Recycling site in Harrietsfield is leaching contaminants into the groundwater which is reaching the wells of nearby homes. Last February, Environment Minister Margaret Miller issued clean-up orders to the two numbered companies that operated the site between 2002 and 2013. The orders replaced another one issued in 2010.

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The companies have never fully complied with any of the orders according to Ecojustice lawyer Kaitlyn Mitchell — who represents Brown, Melissa King, and Angela Zwicker.

“We’re looking at large scale non-compliance with both of the orders and I don’t know why they haven’t been enforced,” she said in an interview from Toronto.

Section 138 of the Environment Act says an appeal “does not suspend … the requirement to comply with an order.”

“The act is very clear,” Mitchell said.

Miller was not available for an interview but an emailed statement from a spokesperson said the department will review Gabriel’s decision and consult with the public prosecution service to “determine our next steps.”

READ MORE: Advocacy group using social media to highlight Harrietsfield water issues

Brown said because of chemicals linked to the contaminated site, her tap water isn’t potable, and she said the heavy metals in it erode her appliances. Last year, the government announced it would buy water filtration systems for their wells. So far, there is no timeline for when they will be installed.

“The government knows what’s going on in this community,” Brown said. “All we’re asking is no more excuses, no more delays, we need safe water.”

The second company was 3012334 Nova Scotia Ltd. (301). It also challenged the order but Justice Denise Boudreau dismissed their appeal last year.

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The 2010 order was also challenged by 307. Justice Joshua Arnold upheld all but one clause of that order in 2015. The Municipal Group of Companies is linked to 307 but their lawyer Robert Grant of Stewart McKelvey declined comment.

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