Nfld. & Labrador

More oil than anticipated recovered from wreck of Manolis L

It was estimated the ship had between 115,000 and 150,000 litres in her. But recovery efforts extracted over 200,000 litres.

The Manolis L sank near Change Islands in 1985 and has been there ever since

The Manolis L sank in waters near Change Islands in 1985. (Courtesy Maritime History Archive, Memorial University)

There was more oil than anticipated in the wreck of the Manolis L, a ship that sank off the coast of Newfoundland's northeast coast in 1985 and has been languishing in waters near Change Islands ever since. 

When the federal government awarded a $15-million contract to Ardent Global in 2018 to remove the oil remaining in the vessel, a Coast Guard survey had said there was between 115,000 and 150,000 litres left on board.

According to a release sent Thursday by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ardent Global recovered 208,769 litres — "enough oil to fill 1,313 oil barrels," the release read.

The Tidewater Enabler helped pump oil from the wreck of Manolis L. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

When it went down in 1985, the Manolis L could have been carrying up to 600,000 litres of oil on board, according to the Canadian Coast Guard. Some escaped during the sinking, and more leaked out roughly five years ago after a large storm disturbed the wreck's resting place.

In 2013, two cracks were found in the hull of the ship and were determined to be leaking oil into the waters near Change Islands. The cracks were fixed, but small sheens in the water and oiled seabirds have been reported since then.

A citizen's group in the area fought for years to have the oil cleaned up.

14 tanks pumped and flushed

The ship was in 70 metres of cold water, and the recovery operation used remotely operated vehicles. The heavy fuel on board was heated with steam in order to remove it and, once it was out of the ship, it was sent to an environmental company for proper disposal, said the release.

Fourteen tanks on the vessel were pumped and flushed out, the release said.

"This was the first operation of its kind in these conditions," the release read. "The success of this operation is an example of the coast guard's ability to effectively address vessels that pose environmental risks."

The Manolis L cleanup was a huge operation, with coast guard vessels offering support. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

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