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Solution may be in sight for leaking Manolis L, minister says

Manolis L sunken ship Notre Dame Bay file photo

The Manolis L sank off Newfoundland's Notre Dame Bay in 1985, but area residents worry oil leaking from the ship's hull won't stop until it is all removed. (Courtesy of Maritime History Archive, MUN)

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A meeting between provincial environment ministers in Winnipeg this week may lead to a solution for a controversial shipwreck in Notre Dame Bay near Change Islands.

The Manolis L has been underwater for 30 years, and some residents in the area worry about potential environmental damage caused by an intermittent oil leak that has posed chronic problems in the area. 

While the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have installed coffer dams to collect the leaking fuel, the Newfoundland and Labrador government wants to see a more permanent solution.

Environment Minister Dan Crummell says conversations with federal fisheries and environment ministers have indicated that Ottawa may be willing to step in. 

"So we're getting some signals out of the federal government that there is movement here and we're getting other signals in the last few days that something is happening," said Crummell.

"So I don't know quite what it is, but I'm very hopeful that we're going to hear some good news in the next little while."

'Fingers crossed'

Caroline Parsons, the co-chair of the Manolis L Citizens Response Committee has been fighting to get the shipwreck cleaned up for a while.

Parsons said the committee has not received any new information, but she's cautiously optimistic about the news.

"Fingers crossed that it is something tangible and real," she said.

Parsons said her best hope is that the oil gets removed by the end of this summer.

"We didn't want to go through another winter [like] last winter, and we certainly don't want to go through... this fall with this ticking time bomb in Notre Dame Bay," she said.

Parsons said that according to scientists, the structure could fail and release the fuel at "any moment."

She said that although the federal government signals may be a pre-election strategy, the committee wants to see real change.

"For us, until it's done, it's not done, so the promise of removing the oil I don't think will move people too much," she said.

"We know that with political will there are known technologies that can do this kind of work."

Between 300 and 400 people gathered in Twillingate recently for a fundraising concert to raise money for the cleanup.

DFO completed new work on the sunken vessel a few weeks ago, including replacing the cofferdam that catches oil that seeps from the wreckage. 

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