Marlene Brown was 10 the last time she was able to drink the water in Harrietsfield. Now, the 59-year-old has some hope for the future after the federal and provincial governments pledged $15 million to clean up a former landfill site that has contributed to contaminated groundwater and affected area wells.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” she said Thursday afternoon after Liberal MP Andy Fillmore and MLA Brendan Maguire announced the project at a news conference held at the Harrietsfield Community Centre, just down Old Sambro Road from the former RDM demolition and recycling facility where construction debris and other refuse is buried both in a containment cell and in the ground outside it.
“I’m in shock,” Brown said. “I think it’s a big step forward for the community. I’m glad that it was finally recognized.”
Brown has been a vocal advocate for years for government to take action on the contamination at the site and for some way to help residents get access to clean water.
The province is putting $8.3 million into the project and the federal government will contribute $6.7 million to deal with the 10 hectares of contaminated soil. It will see all buildings on the property removed, as well as debris that is buried outside the existing containment cell.
The contents of the cell itself will also be dealt with through encapsulation similar to the Sydney Tar Ponds, where a public park is now located, Maguire said.
“The cell is leaking so that will have to be brought up, a new cell built, some stuff will potentially be carried off-site but a lot of stuff will have to be contained on-site, kind of like the Sydney process, what they did there, and then there will be long-term monitoring and a water treatment site,” the MLA for Halifax Atlantic said. “So anything that’s currently on the site that has been impacted, that’ll be flushed through the water treatment plant and then put back in the ground as clean water.”
Fillmore credited the tireless efforts of those in the community who have fought for a solution for many years.