'Unprecedented' assessment commissioned for contaminated Harrietsfield site
Residents have not been able to drink their water for many years
The Nova Scotia Environment Department is commissioning an assessment of a contaminated site in Harrietsfield, N.S.
For years, many residents have not been able to drink their water due to contaminants from a former salvage yard.
The province said this is the first step to determine what will be needed to clean up the property.
The two numbered companies that operated the former RDM Recycling have not followed ministerial orders issued in 2016 to assess the site and submit a cleanup plan. A court case involving the province and the two companies is ongoing.
Environment Minister Iain Rankin said in an unusual step, the province is forging ahead with the assessment in the meantime.
"This is an unprecedented step that hasn't been taken before in the Environment Act," said Rankin. "But the community has been asking for it for some time and we believe it's the right thing to do."
The minister said the province aims to recoup the $250,000 assessment cost in court.
"We should see people out there on the ground this summer doing the testing and analysis work and then we'll have a plan in place hopefully by late this fall to deal with how it should be treated," said Stephen MacIsaac, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Lands Inc, which is commissioning the assessment.
A lot of hard work
The Liberal MLA for the area, Brendan Maguire, said this decision came out of a lot of hard work from people on the ground, the minister, the government, resident Marlene Brown and himself.
"We've had a lot of sleepless nights on this," Maguire said. "This is quite possibly the moment that, as long as I do this job, will be one of those moments that I remember forever.
"The majority of people in the community are not drinking the water," said Maguire. "This is hope."