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In a first for Nova Scotia, Harrietsfield resident Marlene Brown is laying charges on April 26th, 2017 as a private prosecutor under the Environment Act.

 Brown and other Harrietsfield residents have suffered from contaminated drinking water for more than a decade. Despite Ministerial Orders against the companies and individuals responsible for the contamination, nothing has been done to remediate the site

 “I’m frustrated by the lack of action on part of the companies who are supposed to clean up this site,” says Brown. “And I’m frustrated by the lack of action on part of the government to enforce environmental laws and to enforce their own Ministerial Orders against those who are responsible for this suffering.”

 “Many of us have had uranium, lead and arsenic in the water coming from our taps, for years now, and all we seem to get are hollow promises,” continues Brown. “No one should have to beg for clean drinking water in Nova Scotia.”

 Brown has teamed up with Halifax-based East Coast Environmental Law (ECELAW) and Nova Scotia environmental lawyer Jamie Simpson to bring attention to the contamination.

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Earth Day Event Details

About the Environmental Rights Working Group

Environmental Rights Resources and Publications


Communities across the province are uniting to demand that Nova Scotia enshrine their right to a healthy environment.

Nova Scotians are often left in the lurch when it comes to industrial pollution and other environmental degradation impacting their communities. Without a legal right to a healthy environment, community members find their concerns falling on deaf ears.

Marking Earth Day, the Environmental Rights Working Group (ERWG) is proposing a non-partisan Bill of Environmental Rights (EBR) for Nova Scotia to give everyone in the province legal access to demand a healthy environment. Similar laws exist in other provinces, but this is the first time a proposed EBR recognizes the unique concerns of traditionally marginalized or vulnerable residents.

Residents from Boat Harbour, Harrietsfield, Lincolnville, Sipekne’katik and Shelburne will gather to share their stories and describe how a Bill of Environmental Rights would have made a difference to their communities, and how it can change the future.


Event DetailsWML Black Background copy

Earth Day Launch of Nova Scotia Environmental Bill of Rights

  • Date: Friday, April 21, 2017 
  • Start Time: 10:00am
  • Location: Wooden Monkey, 1707 Grafton St, Halifax, NS
  • Emcee: Ingrid Waldron (ENRICH Project)

The proposed PEI Water Act has been a long time coming for citizens on Prince Edward Island. A province that draws all of its water supply from ground water sources and supports a significant agricultural industry needs to be fully aware of the state of their water and the potential impacts today’s choices will have on future Islanders. The government has followed a robust public engagement plan to develop the draft Act, culminating in the release of a full draft version of Act, with supporting information pieces. Citizens on PEI have stepped up to offer their time and expertise to review and comment on the draft. Unfortunately, after providing an excellent consultation process the PEI government is now rushing the final phase of consultation with less than a month for comments and only four in-person sessions.

The wheels of justice turn slowly and the wheels of government even slower. The community of Harrietsfield is still waiting for the polluter to pay and for our government to stand by the law and ensure they receive clean and safe water.

The 7 year legal battle hit a major milestone this month with the release of the Decision of NS Supreme Court Justice Gabriel dismissing an appeal of a Ministerial Order by the former operator of the construction and demolition recycling company (RDM) site. This is the third time the matter has been in the courts. The former construction and demolition recycling site is contaminated after years of stockpiling unrecyclable material such as carpet, gyproc and asphalt, open to the weather creating toxic runoff into local watercourses. Additionally, 120 000 tons of waste were buried on the property and the leachate from this waste has been making its way into the groundwater, leaving local residents with well water that is neither pleasant or safe.

It was cold in Nova Scotia this morning, -25 degrees with the windchill, as my 12 year old bundled herself up to go skiing. “So many layers...” she complained, “...it takes more time to get ready than it will to ski!”. Her comments reminded me of another process that is multi-layered and takes a great deal of time to prepare -- the case of an American company trying to circumvent Canadian environmental law.

As many of you know a US-based company, operating under the name Bilcon, proposed a large coastal quarry and marine terminal in the small community of Sandy Cove located on Digby Neck, Nova Scotia, over 10 years ago. Canadian law, at the time, required the project to undergo federal and provincial environmental impact assessments. The project was quite contentious with a majority of the community and many other Nova Scotians opposed the proposal to blast basalt in the coastal environment and ship it to New Jersey on large vessels. An independent review panel was appointed to review the project proposal, consult with the public, and make a recommendation to government. The review panel completed their work in 2007 and recommended that the project not proceed primarily owing to significant adverse effects that would impact the core values of the community. Government agreed with the recommendation and the project did not proceed.

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