Nfld. & Labrador

Manolis L wreck off Change Islands springs another oil leak

The Canadian Coast Guard has observed a small surface oil sheen during the stormy weather earlier this week in the area of the sunken carrier Manolis L.
A Canadian Coast Guard environmental response team has been working near Change Islands, in the area of the sunken carrier, Manolis L. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

The Canadian Coast Guard said a small surface oil sheen was observed during a bout of stormy weather earlier this week, in the area of the sunken carrier, Manolis L. 

The wreckage is located off Change Islands in Notre Dame Bay.

Coast guard spokesperson Bob Grant said a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was sent down to look for a leak.

"It was observed, towards the stern of the vessel, not in the area where we have sealing mechanisms now, that there was a ... couple of little oil balls that came up," Grant said. 

Stormy seas could have played a role

Grant said the severe weather seemed to be a factor in the leak. 

"It was almost like with the turbulence that was going on there around the hull ... every now and then we could see a little tiny droplet come up. And this is what was causing the surface sheen." 

But Grant said once the seas died down and the weather improved they didn't notice any more surface sheens.

"Yesterday when we got down with the ROV, we immediately checked that area and there was, it was all clean. There was nothing being released from the hull at that time,"  he said.

Grant said they have weighted seals on site that they'll deploy now that they've identified the location of the leak.

It was observed, towards the stern of the vessel, not in the area where we have sealing mechanisms now, that there was a ... couple of little oil balls that came up.- Bob Grant of the Canadian Coast Guard 

He said under three litres of oil leaked that was non-recoverable. The oil quickly dissipated.

Meanwhile, the stormy weather has been playing havoc with the coast guard's original plans at the Manolis L site.

They wanted to pump out and replace the cofferdam that contains oil that leaked from the sunken vessel.

"We had some, I guess, reconfiguring to do with our mooring system because the aggressive sea state that was out on site kind of took our mooring systems, and moved them."

But on Wednesday afternoon, Grant said they were able to get their moorings back in position and do an ROV dive.

Grant said they found all previous sealing conduits were intact and not leaking.

However, he added they still need two days of good weather to get the cofferdam work done.

The Liberian-flagged Manolis L sank after running aground in January 1985 on Blow Hard Rock, near Change Islands. It was carrying more than 500 tonnes of fuel oil and diesel at the time.

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