NOTRE DAME BAY, NL – Fuel continues to seep from the sunken Manolis L. even though the Canadian Coast Guard recently removed 500 litres captured by the coffer damn surrounding it.
Larry Crann, acting deputy superintendent for the Canadian Coast Guard, said the fuel was removed with the completion of comprehensive operations at the site on Oct. 6.
Along with the extraction, weighted seals and the coffer damn, in place since last year, were also replaced. A remote-operated vehicle survey was carried out to make sure all equipment on the wreck was functioning properly and there had been no release of pollutants.
The inspection revealed a small leak had occurred around a patch put in place by the assessment team last year, said Crann.
“We could see a small drop of oil coming out of the patch, so we put another weighted seal over the patch,” he said.
Crann said the Coast Guard will return in the spring – between May and August, depending on the ice conditions – for a follow-up inspection and to replace any needed materials.
He added the Canadian Coast Guard continuously monitors the area with site visits from ships, flyovers, and feedback from local residents.
The Manolis L. went down in 85 metres of waters in Norte Dame Bay in 1985 after running aground on Blow Hard Rock off Change Islands, taking with it an estimated 462,000 litres of fuel. Last year’s assessment estimated between 115,000 to 150,000 litres are still trapped in the ship.
While last year’s technical assessment recommended extracting the remaining fuel, there has been no commitment on the federal level to remove the more-than 100,000 litres.
And that has concerned citizens frustrated.
Carolyn Parson, spokesperson for the Manolis L. citizens’ response committee, said this was the first work carried out at the site of the sunken vessel since last year’s assessment.
“There’s never been a time where the Manolis L hasn’t been leaking into the environment, because a good portion is already out of her,” said Parsons.
“They have a recommendation to remove it and we have no indication they are going to do it in 2018 at this point.”
With the recommendation to extract the remaining fuel, Parsons said patchwork isn’t a solution.
“It’s a literal Band-Aid,” said Parsons. “The recommendation is there and it’s being ignored.”
There have been discussions on the federal level, but she said it always boils down to one major hurdle.
“It’s a matter of money. It seems like (everyone) wants this done…but the money has not been released for this to go ahead.”
Scott Simms, MP for Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame, said work continues to remove the fuel from the wreck.
“We have secured the funding to monitor,” he said. “I am now submitting the request for separate funding outside of the Coast Guards budget to issue a request for proposals and get a permanent solution.”