Nova Scotia

Cleanup of contaminated Harrietsfield salvage site to begin soon

The Nova Scotia government has awarded a Dartmouth, N.S., company a $7.2-million contract to clean up an abandoned construction and demolition landfill site in Harrietsfield.

'This has been a massive community effort,' MLA Brendan Maguire says of drive to get site cleaned up

RDM Recycling opened in Harrietsfield in 2002. The facility closed in 2013 after the Halifax Regional Municipality revoked its licence. (CBC)

The Nova Scotia government has awarded a Dartmouth, N.S., company a $7.2-million contract to clean up an abandoned construction and demolition landfill site in Harrietsfield.

Resident Marlene Brown was anxious for the work to begin on what's left of the landfill that's across the street from her home, but she said the fight wasn't over for her or her neighbours, who are still dealing with well water that is unsafe to drink.

"Eleven years and it's been an uphill battle," Brown said about the fight to have the former RDM Recycling site cleaned up.

Three years ago, a frustrated Brown even launched a so-called private prosecution against those allegedly responsible for the pollution.

Company owners shuttered operations after the Halifax Regional Municipality pulled the company's operating permit in 2013. Those owners then repeatedly fought orders to clean up the site from the provincial Environment Department.

Harrietsfield resident Marlene Brown helped spearhead the community effort pushing for the contaminated site to get cleaned up. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

The cleanup, set to begin within weeks, will involve removing runoff water from the existing landfill cell and installing a better cap to prevent leachate from building up in the cell again.

Atlantic Road Construction and Paving Ltd., the winning bidder for the work, will also tear down buildings and install a new cap on the landfill, which will then be covered with a synthetic turf surface and fenced.

"It's going to be wonderful, but the only problem is there's still 120,000 tonnes of toxic debris buried on the site," Brown said.

"Now if all that was removed, that would be great, so we're looking at having just one step at a time."

The local MLA, Brendan Maguire, credited Brown and others in the community for keeping up the fight to force the three levels of government to act.

"This has been a massive community effort," he said. "I know that as the MLA I get to speak in the media and get a bit of credit for this, but you know, this was all levels of government, but more importantly this was the community and a lot of people deserve a lot of credit and I was just a small spoke in the wheel here.

"It's probably the proudest moment of my career."

Site will become provincial parkland, says MLA

Maguire said after the site is cleaned up, it will be turned into provincial parkland. As part of that, he said hundreds of trees will be planted, which will bring wildlife back into the area.

"People won't have to look at a pollution sign and buildings that are falling down, you know, they'll drive by and they'll just see what was once an eyesore, [now] it will be something natural and beautiful," he said.

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