Nfld. & Labrador

Plans outlined for oil removal from Manolis L shipwreck

The federal government unveiled plans Monday about how the Manolis L shipwreck off Change Islands will be cleaned up.

Leaky ship to be sucked dry by end of summer, using remotely operated vehicles

The Canadian Coast Guard's Larry Crann outlines plans to remove oil from a wrecked paper carrier in Notre Dame Bay. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

The federal government says two remotely operated vehicles rather than divers will be used to clean up a leaking paper carrier under the ocean off Change Islands in northeast Newfoundland.

Details of the plan to suck oil from the hull of the Manolis L were unveiled at an event in Twillingate on Monday.

"When you look at the wreck, it's very close to Blowhard Rock. And we're just concerned about, especially when we start the pumping and removing oil, we would rather use the ROV operation rather than have divers involved," said Larry Crann, superintendent of environmental response for the Canadian Coast Guard.

The Manolis L sank in Notre Dame Bay in 1985, with a load of newsprint and about 550 tonnes of oil on board.

Some of that oil has escaped from the hull, which was dislodged in a storm, and previous solutions such as a cofferdam didn't keep the oil out or satisfy concerned citizens.

The Manolis L sank in Notre Dame Bay in 1985. (Courtesy Maritime History Archive, Memorial University)

Crann said a "hot tap" method will be used to get at what is left in the ship.

"We'll drill a hole in, and then there will be a disc that will drop down inside, and then the oil can flow out through the line, without getting in the environment, and go to our storage tanks on deck," he said.

"When you look at this type of wreck, and you look at the different oil recovery operations that have taken place in the world, this is what they use."

Contractor Ardent Global, an international specialist in raising wrecks and decommissioning marine structures, has been hired to handle the $15-million Manolis L job.

A diagram of the hot tap system to be used during the Manolis L cleanup. (Coast Guard)

The coast guard will monitor the work as it continues over the summer, with 10 vessels and a helicopter ready for emergencies.

About 50 people will also work on land to help run the six-week operation.

It's none too soon for the citizens' committee, which fought for years to get the cleanup.

"There's just a sense of relief that finally it's getting done, and a sense of relief that someone's putting the problems of a small place like this as a priority with the federal government," said committee member Carolyn Parsons.

With files from Garrett Barry