Nfld. & Labrador

Show us the money: Manolis L group questions federal funds for cleanup

An advocacy group is worried time is running out to remove the oil from the submerged Manolis L, if the federal government doesn't soon ante up the cash.

'We know we're getting into a crunch here,' says committee co-chair

The co-chair of the Manolis L Citizens Response Committee Carolyn Parsons wonders where the federal funding is to remove oil from the leaking vessel. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The Manolis L Citizens Response Committee had expected its efforts would wind down after the Canadian Coast Guard recommended removing all of the oil from the shipwreck off Change Islands, but instead is now wondering where is the cash to do it. 

"We know we're getting into a crunch here with that and we've heard nothing about funding from the federal government, so we're a little concerned," says Carolyn Parsons, co-chair of the committee. 

"Once they decided to do this ... we expected it would just be matter of form before we'd hear about some funding and I think the coast guard was under the same impression."

Resolve Marine Group of Fort Lauderdale was contracted to complete the assessment of the Manolis L with the assistance of the coast guard, Transport Canada, and Environment Canada. (DFO/Twitter)

In a report released in December, the coast guard concluded removing the oil would be the best way forward, albeit with a price tag of $6 million and noting "it would be ambitious" to expect a cleanup by 2017.

The ship sank in 1985, but it was in 2013, when it became dislodged due to severe weather causing fuel to leak into Notre Dame Bay.

'Funding is the key'

Parsons said at a meeting, coast guard officials outlined what would need to be in place in order to do the cleanup in the summer of 2017.

First, the contract to do the work would require a request for proposals (RFP) — and that's just a starting point. 

"Funding is the key. [Without it] the coast guard can't post that RFP which, to my understanding they've prepared," said Parsons. 

When the report recommending the oil be removed was released in December, St. John's South—Mount Pearl MP Seamus O'Regan said the federal government was committed to action on the Manolis L. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"They have to get companies to bid on this and do that whole process. Plus, those companies have to in turn engage subcontractors. It's a fairly big operation."

Even when the contracts are awarded, there are even more logistics to consider, Parsons said. 

"Keep in mind that the equipment that would do this sort of operation is international equipment, so a company would have to make the scheduling arrangements to have their equipment in the region. They could be over in the Indian Ocean or anywhere at all," Parsons said. 

'Why put it off another year?'

Parsons said her group has written letters inquiring about the money to Premier Dwight Ball, MP Scott Simms and even to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Workers aboard the Canadian Coast Guard ship Ann Harvey prepare for subsea operations to fix an oil leak in the sunken hull of the Manolis L in 2013. (Canadian Coast Guard/Submitted)

"Why put it off another year? It's going to be the same job, whether you do it now or later. Maybe even a messier job if something were to go wrong in the meanwhile," said Parsons, who pointed out there are still costs associated with monitoring the situation to ensure there aren't additional leaks. 

"It's been a long haul ... We thought we were getting to the end of this effort and now we feel like we're still fighting for something."

CBC News contacted the offices of Simms and MP Seamus O'Regan — who has said the federal government is committed to action on the Manolis L. — for comment, but had not heard back as of Thursday evening.

With files from The Broadcast and Garrett Barry