Risky cleanup of oil from decades old N.L. shipwreck a success, coast guard says
The operation employed remotely operated vehicles to remove the leaking bulk oil
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The coast guard says work to remove leaking bulk oil from the decades-old Manolis L shipwreck off Newfoundland is complete.
The risky operation in Notre Dame Bay went smoothly and successfully, officials say.
Anne Miller of the Canadian Coast Guard said the operation was one of the biggest they have ever undertaken in terms of sea depth, the quantity of oil, and the novel use of remotely operated vehicles to remove the oil.
The operation halted a longstanding threat to the environment and local fishery.
“It’s been a relief,” Miller said.
“Everyone has come together with their expertise, their dedication, their professionalism over the last two months to make this project of oil removal a success and it has been impressive.”
The paper carrier sank near Change Islands in 1985 in about 70 metres of water and was dormant until April 2013, when fuel oil leaked from cracks in the hull during a powerful storm.
The last of the bulk oil was extracted on Monday, and has been transported to St. John’s, where it will be offloaded to an environmental company for safe disposal.
Envirosystems Inc. will then separate the extracted oil from the water and eventually re-sell the salvaged bulk oil.
The tricky operation began in early August, using magnetically attached hoses to extract between 115 and 150 cubic metres of oil and about 60 cubic metres of diesel, according to a 2016 technical assessment.
Miller said the removal went smoothly, with only minor releases of oil.
“There were very minor releases during the operation, which was non-recoverable sheening, but other than that there was no impact to the environment,” Miller said.
Ottawa awarded a $15-million cleanup contract to Ardent Global this spring.
Local members of the Manolis L Citizen’s Response Committee had been lobbying provincial and federal officials since the 2013 storm by writing letters, meeting with coast guard officials, and holding public events.
Miller said the reaction from local residents during the process was “a pleasure.”
“The reaction and the welcoming we got from people in the Twillingate area was second to none,” said Miller.
A final report from Ardent Global is expected within three weeks detailing how much oil was removed.
In addition to the $15-million contract, documents from 2015 showed that $1.7 million in federal money had already been spent trying to plug oil leaks in the sunken ship.
The total costs of the coast guard removal operation have yet to be released.