Penobsquis residents give final arguments in water dispute
2 still seeking compensation from PotashCorp
Penobsquis residents, who are still seeking financial compensation from PotashCorp for the loss of their well water and damage to their homes, presented final arguments to New Brunswick's mining commissioner on Monday.
Meanwhile, other members of the Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis group, who abruptly withdrew their allegations against PotashCorp earlier this month, are calling on the provincial government to "do right by [its] citizens."
Heather McCabe is one of two residents who maintains PotashCorp should pay for repairs to her home, or for her to relocate.
"We put everything we had to purchase this home together, so that we could run a sanctuary [for special needs animals], and so that my mom, who's now 79, could retire there and live out the rest of her years in safety," said McCabe.
"She spent her 79th birthday helping me spray Javex under the house because of the sewage leak that was caused by the sinking and moving ground. If this doesn't work, then I don't see that she'll have many years left."
McCabe contends her house, located just a few minutes' drive from the potash mines, is sinking and the roof is buckling because of seismic testing PotashCorp conducted in the area for a new mine several years ago.
A total of 24 homeowners had similar claims, making it the biggest challenge of its kind ever heard by the province's mining commissioner, Roderick Duguay.
But all but two — McCabe and Beth Norrad — decided to drop their claim after a two-and-a-half-year battle, saying they were at an "unfair disadvantage" and that the process was "broken."
"By coming through this process, it's been very evident that the whole thing is flawed, that there's not really a true mechanism for justice for the citizens of New Brunswick," said group spokesperson Beth Nixon.
"And we call upon the government to step up things and do right by their citizens. They need to look after the citizens," she said.
Nixon is tight-lipped about what the group's next move is, but said members will be meeting with PotashCorp officials soon.
About 60 Penobsquis residents lost their well water, starting in 2004.
The provincial government also put in a new water system in 2009 and earlier this summer, the company agreed to pay residents' water bills.
The mining commissioner has the power to award financial compensation to the homeowners. However, the decision can be appealed to the courts.
Going through the mining commissioner instead of the courts is a rarely used option allowed for in the Mining Act.