Oil cleanup in Mount Carmel

Coast Guard looks after wrecked tugboat carrying fuel

Published on July 13, 2016

A yellow line in the water shows where a containment boom has been established to prevent oil of spreading in the harbour by Mount Carmel, where the Canadian Coast Guard started removing pollutants last week.

Submitted photo

Canadian Coast Guard officials expected to clew up activity around the harbour in Mount Carmel Wednesday, intending to eliminate the threat of pollutants in a wrecked tugboat once and for all.

The MV Matterhorn sank in 2014 while it was berthing in the St. Mary’s Bay community. The side of the vessel is still visible at times from the shore.

According to Larry Crann, a senior response officer for the Coast Guard, the owner of the ship initially took some steps to mitigate pollution. But despite overtures from the Canadian Coast Guard to take further action, the owner did not fully deal with the threat posed by fuel left in the 145-foot ship.

Officials do not know the exact amount of oil on board in the hull, but information received early on from the owner suggested there could be at most 3,000 litres. They have drilled into the hull to remove pollutants still inside. Those fuels would include diesel and waste oil.

“Could be a bit more, could be a bit less,” said Crann. “But roughly, that’s what we’re dealing with, because (the owner) had an idea of what pollution was on board at the time.”

The bill for removing the oil will be sent to the ship’s owner. In the event the owner does not respond, the Canadian Coast Guard will seek to be reimbursed through the Canada Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund. Fund administrators can then take legal action to recover the cost from the owner.

A containment boom was established to trap the oil spill. An additional layer of lined-absorbent boom was also set up, and a vacuum truck sucked the oil out.

Work on the project started last week, with weather conditions preventing crews from getting out there on some days. Three Canadian Coast Guard officials, six contracted divers and two vacuum truck operators were involved.

As for the boat, it will likely remain in the water.

“Our mandate is around pollution, so once the pollution threat is removed, then that’s where our mandate finishes,” said Crann, noting wreckages fall under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada.

The Compass