Nova Scotia

Hole in grounded ship worries fisherman

A lobster fisherman in Nova Scotia is warning that a gash in the side of a grounded bulk carrier is now a major hole, but the coast guard says there is no threat to the environment.
The view of the MV Miner on Friday, when provincial officials took a look. (Nova Scotia Department of Environment)

A lobster fisherman in Nova Scotia is warning that a gash in the side of a grounded bulk carrier is now a major hole, but the coast guard says there is no threat to the environment.

The damaged MV Miner has been sitting near Scatarie Island off Cape Breton for three weeks. The Canadian Coast Guard has been monitoring the ship from the mainland.

But Ken Wadden, a local fisherman, went to check out the ship for himself on Sunday.

"The whole side of the ship is gone, completely gone," he told CBC News on Monday. "You only got to get another wind like we had the other day and the whole side is tore off the front."

Wadden said the ship seems to be intact above the waterline, but below, there's not much left.

"You can smell oil off the boat when you're getting close to her. And with the crack that's into her, that boat is not going nowhere," he said.

The ship, formerly known as the MV Canadian Miner, was being towed to Turkey to be scrapped when a line snapped on Sept. 20. The carrier ended up near Scatarie Island, an area east of Cape Breton known for its shipwrecks.

Wadden, like other lobster fishermen in the area, is worried about his livelihood.

"I was talking to one of the older guys yesterday. When there's always a ship goes to shore, it takes three or four years for the lobsters to come back around it," he said.

No damage to shoreline

While the coast guard confirms there are several large holes on the starboard side of the vessel, it said Monday there is "no observed impact" to the marine environment.

The coast guard said all the fuel and waste on board — more than 10,000 litres of marine diesel oil, lubricants and oily waste water — have been removed from the ship.

A boom was placed to contain a "minor" sheen of oil inside the engine room, the coast guard said. It will be inspected and removed later in the week.

Joe LeClair, superintendent of the coast guard's environmental response in the Maritimes, said crews assessed the shoreline Saturday and found no evidence of oil pollution.

The coast guard attributed any stench of oil to the process of removing the last of the oily waste.

There have been several attempts to tow away the old ship, which once plied the Great Lakes carrying coal, ore and grain.

On Friday, the Nova Scotia government detained the Hellas, the Greek tugboat that was towing the Miner, after filing a $15-million claim. The province estimated it would cost nearly $25 million to remove the ship if it could not float.

Wadden expects it will be quite an endeavour to move the Miner.

"You would not believe your eyes. And you expect that thing to float! She's about 40 feet high. Just think about it in your own mind — a house stood up on end, 40 feet, and there's not a bit of plate on it from the top to the bottom," he said.