Nfld. & Labrador

Popular Notre Dame beach turned into salvage spot for damaged vessel

Faulkes Dock Beach is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, but a salvage operation is marring the horizon, says a tour boat operator.

Tour operator says a temporary road is being built on Faulkes Dock Beach to tow ship in

The Straits Foam was towed near to shore at Faulkes Dock Beach, and a road is being constructed out to it so a vehicle can tow it out of the water. (Submitted by Graham Wood)

A tour boat operator in Little Burnt Bay is astounded that a company has been allowed to built a temporary road on a popular public beach, at the height of tourist season, to tow in a damaged boat.

The fishing vessel Straits Foam was damaged in this year's harsh ice conditions in Notre Dame Bay, and had been adrift outside the Bay of Exploits for seven weeks, says Graham Wood, who runs Mussel Bed Tours.

It's just hard to believe. Horrification. People are very upset about it.- Graham Wood

The work to bring that boat in to shore and salvage it includes building a temporary road from the beach out to the boat to tow it in to shore.

"That particular beach is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in this part of Notre Dame Bay and the Bay of Exploits that you can access by road, and we see this boat being towed in," says Wood.

"The first word that came to mind was 'horrified.'"

The boat was brought in close to shore on Sunday night, Wood said, with RCMP directing people away from the site due to heavy equipment on scene.

'One of our most pristine beaches'

Wood said he called his local MHA to find out how this work got approved, and said the MHA told him it was approved by the Town of Embree.

"That's not a government approval. That's not an environmental approval," Wood said.

"And talking to the MHA [Thursday] he informed me that he wasn't aware that there was any approval given for the salvage operation on one of our most pristine beaches here."

The Straits Foam is a 55-foot ship that was damaged in the severe ice conditions earlier this year. (Submitted by Graham Wood)

Wood said most things have been taken off the boat and the fuel removed, but he doesn't know about the engine, and he suspects there are still contaminants on board.

"Apparently they pumped out the tanks, but that doesn't — because you pump out the fuel tanks doesn't mean you pump out all the oil that is in the hulls."

'People are very upset about it'

Just Thursday night, Wood saw a group of kids playing on the beach in the warm summer weather, but you could still smell fumes.

Wood's business relies on tourists visiting the area, so he's not happy that this beach is getting torn up, even though he said the people doing the work told him they would "fix the beach" once they were done.

"I have tourists drive down there every day to my boat tours in Little Burnt Bay and one of the comments they always make is, it is such a beautiful drive," said Wood.

"It's just hard to believe. Horrification. People are very upset about it."

CBC News has a request in to government to comment on the situation.

With files from the Central Morning Show