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N.S. environment minister commits $250K to assess Harrietsfield water concerns

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WATCH: The Nova Scotia government says it's taking an unprecedented step to bring back cleaning drinking water to wells in Harrietsfield, N.S. Steve Silva has more – Jun 12, 2018

After years of residents in Harrietsfield, N.S., pleading for clean drinking water, the Nova Scotia government has finally stepped in.

Nova Scotia Environment Minister Iain Rankin has signed off on an order that will allow for a site assessment at a former construction and demolition site in Harrietsfield, N.S.

The province says Nova Scotia Lands Inc. will commission a site assessment this summer to determine the extent of contamination, how long it will take to remediate, and how much it will cost.

“The community is, rightfully so, tired of waiting,” Brendan Maguire, the local Liberal MLA, said during a press conference for the announcement.

READ MORE: No water action plan after N.S. environment minister, Harrietsfield residents meet

Nova Scotia Lands Inc. will also determine the condition of the existing infrastructure and evaluate what potential impacts the remediation might have, according to the province.

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The assessment is estimated to cost $250,000. Rankin said he will be seeking all costs for this plan to be reimbursed by the two companies, calling the move “an unprecedented step.”

“This site has been a problem for the community for far too long. We’re taking an important and necessary action to address it,” said Rankin in a statement.

Rankin met with Harrietsfield residents last month to discuss their concerns. He was the first provincial environment minister to meet with them in Harrietsfield.

Several residents claimed contaminants are still leaching into the groundwater from the former RDM Recycling plant.

WATCH: Harrietsfield contaminated water case heading to city hall

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Harrietsfield contaminated water case heading to city hall – Jul 30, 2017

Two ministerial orders to clean up RDM Recycling were previously issued, ordering the companies to assess the contamination that was impacting residents’ wells and submit a plan to remediate it.

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Harrietsfield residents and the province claim those orders have not been enforced.

One member of the community, Marlene Brown, has taken the case to provincial court, where it is in the middle of ongoing adjournments. The case is scheduled to return to court on June 19.

She believes this is a positive step, and one that gives her hope.

“I’m in shock,” she said in an interview in the community. “You’ve got to fight for what you want, and sometimes it takes a long time.”

READ MORE: Harrietsfield contaminated water case adjourned for 12th time

Rankin says the site assessment will not impact the case.

— With files from Rebecca Lau and Steve Silva.