The province has issued a stop-worked order to the company planning to salvage the MV Miner, signalling yet another delay in the removal of the bulk carrier which ran aground off Cape Breton more than a year ago.
Pat Murphy, the regional director of occupational health and safety for the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, said the province wants assurances the salvage plan is a sound one and the work can be done safely.
It is ordering the Bennington Group — a New York-based company hired nearly six months ago to remove the MV Miner — to hire an independent engineer to assess both the vessel and the work plans.
"The first hurdle that we have to get over is to make sure that it is safe for workers to do this work," Murphy told CBC News.
"Everybody that goes out there has to get home safe at the end of the day."
The MV Miner has been deteriorating since it ran aground last September, while being towed from Montreal to a scrapyard in Turkey.
Bennington Group spent the summer preparing to move the vessel but work has not yet begun. In August, the provincial government extended the company's permit until Dec. 1 to remove the derelict ship.
People who live in communities near the stranded vessel have been losing patience with the project. They've already called on the province to develop an alternate plan in case the salvage effort falls through.
Murphy said it will be up to the Bennington Group to hire the engineer and get its work plans approved, but he hopes the work can happen quickly.
The head of the Bennington Group could not be reached for comment.