Crews in Colliers carefully dismantle shipwrecked fishing vessel
Ship was abandoned by shore before it ran aground during Snowmageddon
A ship that sank in Newfoundland's Conception Bay 16 years ago is now being demolished and will be recycled, according to the Canadian Coast Guard.
The Hamilton Banker has a lengthy history. The fishing vessel sank in June 2006 in Harbour Grace, before being refloated and towed to nearby Colliers.
Andrew Wakeham, a senior response officer with the coast guard's environmental response program, says the ship eventually drifted ashore and ran aground during the January 2020 blizzard known as Snowmageddon, and has remained there ever since.
A coast guard assessment of the vessel found it was a high-risk pollutant to the local environment, said Wakeham. A contract was eventually awarded to McKeil Marine to dispose of the vessel properly.
"As council, we saw once it went where it is now that it was going to become an issue," said Glen McDonald, a Colliers town councillor.
"There was the opportunity for contaminants, hydraulic fluid, oil, whatever was in the ship, to get into the water," said McDonald. "We, as a small town, didn't have the resources to deal with it."
According to McDonald, the Hamilton Banker has been docked in the town for well over a decade. Nobody paid much attention to it until it ran ashore thanks to the historic storm.
The coast guard's environmental response program took over the scene, with the operation officially getting underway over the past couple of weeks.
According to Wakeham, with operational vessels like the Hamilton Banker, fuel oils, lubricating oils from engines and waste oils can all pose significant environmental threats. In the case of the Hamilton Banker, a majority of those materials were still aboard.
Because of the risks, officials determined that deconstruction would have to take place.
"We've been on top of this since January 2020, and the residents have been of great help to us. Whether it be through snow clearing, proper signage, to good communication between everybody," said Wakeham.
"We realize that we came in here, we took up some space, we're making some noise, but overall, it's been a very good experience here."
McDonald said Colliers residents are "quite thankful" that the coast guard is overseeing the environmental response.
"They've done an amazing job keeping the contaminants out of the water for the last couple of years while they were getting ready to take the boat apart," he said.
"Over the past couple of weeks since they started, they've been doing an incredible, incredible job."
The coast guard expects the contract to be fulfilled near the end of the summer. In addition to the disposal of the vessel, the work will include a dive survey of the surrounding area to ensure all materials have been properly disposed of.
The rest of the Hamilton Banker will transported to Sydney to be recycled.
With files from Henrike Wilhelm