Harrietsfield Resident Lays Charges in Contaminated Drinking Water Case

Harrietsfield, NS resident and private prosecutor Marlene Brown. Photo credit: Rebecca Hussman


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.

“Ms. Brown came to us seven years ago with serious and documented concerns of contamination. We and our colleagues at Ecojustice have repeatedly asked the Minister of Environment to enforce the law and hold those responsible to account,” states Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director of ECELAW.

 Brown is charging two numbered companies and two individuals for releasing substances causing an adverse effect into the environment and for failing to comply with Ministerial Orders, under sections 67 and 132 of Nova Scotia’s Environment Act.

 “Private prosecution,” says Simpson, “is a last resort, used when government fails to enforce laws.”

“It has never been used in Nova Scotia to enforce environmental laws,” notes Simpson. “We’re acting now because Ms. Brown and the other residents have waited far too long for something to be done about this horrendous situation.”

 Canada’s Criminal Code gives citizens the power to lay charges for alleged violations of criminal or regulatory laws, including environmental offences.

More information on the Harrietsfield case: