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Irving Whale: Minister says oil barge will be raised

Environmentalists dubbed it a ticking time bomb, and nobody knew when — or if — the Irving Whale oil barge would release its dangerous cargo. Toxic discoveries, legal delays and spiralling costs would all ensue before the Irving Whale saw the light of day — 26 years after sinking off Prince Edward Island in 1970.

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In the face of increasing demands from a public growing more aware of environmental issues, the federal government announces its decision to raise the Irving Whale. Minister of the Environment Sheila Copps says environmental assessments and public consultations will be done before any work starts, and that she hopes work can start in a few months. In this CBC Radio clip, local fishermen tell reporter Aubrey Bell they're glad something is finally being done.
. Now that the government has announced the Irving Whale will definitely be raised, there are two ways to approach it: raise it and then pump out the oil, or pump out the oil before raising it. Although it's more expensive, many fishermen and environmentalists feel pumping out the oil first is the better option. The barge's hull may have deteriorated since it sank 24 years earlier, increasing the chance of a disastrous spill.

. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a busy place for commercial fishers. The catch there includes shellfish like snow crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams, as well as cod, turbot, hake, herring and mackerel. The effects of spilled oil on the fish themselves would not be great — oil floats, and these creatures live deep below its surface — but fish eggs and larvae can be affected.
Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: March 18, 1994
Guest(s): Robert Laird, Buck Watts
Host: Bernie McNamee, Bob Oxley
Reporter: Aubrey Bell
Duration: 2:18

Last updated: January 31, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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