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Harrietsfield contaminated water case heading to Halifax city hall

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WATCH ABOVE: A Harrietsfield woman who has been advocating for the clean-up of a contaminated site in her community is heading to Halifax’s environment committee to brief councillors on her concerns and press for the site to be cleaned up. Marieke Walsh has an update on her drinking water, her court case and where it goes from here – Jul 30, 2017

The ongoing Harrietsfield contaminated water case is heading to Halifax city hall in hopes of pressuring the municipality to get involved in the cleanup.

Harrietsfield resident Marlene Brown is making the push on Thursday to the municipality’s environment and sustainability standing committee.

“We want to present the impact as well as remediation to our community,” Brown told Global News.

“We’re doing a presentation that will include the history of the water impacts and where we are today.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia takes over prosecution of Harrietsfield pollution case

In February, the provincial government issued cleanup orders to two numbered companies that operated the defunct RDM Recycling site in Harrietsfield between 2002 and 2013. The province’s environment department said the site is leaching contaminants into the groundwater, which is reaching the wells of nearby homes.

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Brown’s home is one of the ones affected and she eventually received a new water filter paid for by the government after fighting with them for years.

“After so many years of not being able to drink the water and now there’s an opportunity in front of us to do that, we just want to make sure that it is safe to drink and I’m looking forward to it,” she said.

She has been using the water for showers, but has not yet started drinking it because the last water results she received said the TDS (total dissolved solids) was over the limit for consumption or cooking. Part of this, she said, is a result of build up in the pipes which need cleaning and the machine still needs “tweaking.”

Brown said she’d also like to see the province give more water filters to other area residents but the province says there are no plans to give out more than the eight already provided.

WATCH: Conflicting statements about plans for the contaminated recycling site in Harrietsfield has left the Liberals scrambling to explain themselves. Global’s Marieke Walsh tells us more.

Click to play video: 'Conflicting statements on Harrietsfield cleanup prompts more questions' Conflicting statements on Harrietsfield cleanup prompts more questions
Conflicting statements on Harrietsfield cleanup prompts more questions – May 12, 2017

According to Kailyn Mitchell, who is one of the lawyers representing Brown in a private prosecution case, the companies have never fully complied with any of the orders.

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Earlier this spring, Brown went to court to lay private charges against the two companies named in the cleanup orders under the province’s Environment Act. It was the first time a private prosecution was going to proceed.

But Jamie Simpson, another lawyer representing Brown, said the province announced their decision to take over the case in court last Tuesday.

Simpson said they were aware, when they began the prosecution, that the province could “jump in” and could stay the prosecution, withdraw the charges, remain an observer or step in and take on the file themselves. He said they have indicated to the court they would “take carriage” of the file and lay their own information.

“Which basically means they are going to put charges before the court,” he said. “They’ve decided that there is a reasonable chance of conviction and that it’s a worthy case to take forward from the public policy perspective.

READ MORE: Harrietsfield resident to file ‘private prosecution’ against companies for polluting drinking water

“The fact that it’s made it, that allegedly and according to our Department of Environment, that the contaminants from this site have made it into domestic drinking water supplies and in some cases into local water courses, that’s very significant.”

Knowing the province has taken on the case is, for Brown, a “sense of relief for the first time in seven years.”

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“I feel like this is moving forward, I’m pretty sure it’s going to have a positive outcome and … we can just focus on bringing water into the community,” she said.

The case is set to resume in court on Aug. 21.

With files from Marieke Walsh, Global News

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