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Irving Whale salvage operation back on track

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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The Irving Whale has spent another winter underwater, but a judge has struck down the injunction that kept it there. Preparations to raise it have been underway for weeks, and after days of weather delays, CBC reporter James Murray observes from a nearby Canadian Coast Guard ship as divers finish securing two heavy slings on either end beneath the Irving Whale.
• In the months after the lift was halted in August 1995, the government commissioned more tests in the area, produced an assessment report and held public consultations. Satisfied their concerns had been addressed, la Société pour vaincre la pollution withdrew their objections.

• The work to raise the barge involved 19 vessels and a full-time team of about 10 with contributions from about 150 more at various times. It was the largest marine salvage operation in Canada.

• The most time-consuming part of the work was the 14 days it took to weld 28 plates onto the hull for reinforcement under the lifting slings. Five days were spent placing the slings, which were suspended from two huge ocean cranes, under the bow and stern.

•  When the lift operation began, the barge still contained about 3,100 tonnes of heavy oil and about seven tonnes of PCB-laden heating oil.
Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: July 29, 1996
Guest(s): Ansel Ferguson, Ken Hamilton
Reporter: James Murray
Duration: 3:41

Last updated: November 10, 2014

Page consulted on November 10, 2014

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