Environment minister meets with Harrietsfield residents to discuss years of contaminated water
Nova Scotia’s environment minister is set to meet with residents of Harrietsfield, N.S., on Monday to discuss contaminated drinking water in the community — something that one resident says the past four environment ministers refused to do.
Marlene Brown, an outspoken resident says that she hopes the meeting will prompt Minister Iain Rankin — along with other politicians in attendance — to act on the stories they’ll hear.
“I hope they see how the residents are reacting and how important this is,” Brown said.
“What I’d like to see tonight is the environment minister to go back to his department with a game plan.”
The provincial government says the defunct RDM Recycling site in Harrietsfield is leaching contaminants into the groundwater which is reaching the wells of nearby homes.
Brown co-presented a report to the Halifax Regional Municipality’s (HRM) environment and sustainability Standing Committee in August 2017, outlining the history of contaminated water issues in the community.
According to the report, water trouble for the area began in 1981 when residents were given a court order to stop drinking their water due to uranium contamination caused by Nova Scotia uranium exploration.
Brown says the elementary school has been on bottled water ever since, nearly 40 years.
In 2016, then-environment minister, Margaret Miller, issued cleanup orders to the two numbered companies that operated the site between 2002 and 2013. The orders replaced another one issued in 2010.
On April 28, 2017, Brown filed for a private prosecution under the Nova Scotia Environment Act to two companies that operated the defunct RDM Recycling site between 2002 and 2013.
Brown claimed the companies did not abide by a ministerial order to clean up the site.
WATCH: After years of living with unsafe drinking water, Harrietsfield residents ‘forced’ to lay charges
The case was handed to Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service last July but has now been adjourned until June 19.
Brown has claimed the recycling plant is leaching contaminants into the groundwater, which is reaching the wells of nearby homes. She says 50 homes have been impacted, but the province only placed a water-monitoring program on 18 of them.
The nearby St. Paul’s Church — which is on the HRM’s water supply -has been providing water to those in need through access to an outside tap for the last four years.
With files from Alexa MacLean
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