Community association requesting parties to declare stance on MV Miner

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
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MAIN-A-DIEU — The Main-a-Dieu Community Development Association has sent letters to the leaders of the three main political parties requesting a definitive policy statement on how to dispose of the MV Miner.

A file photo shows a water-level view of the MV Miner, aground on Scatarie Island, with extensive structural damage on a large portion of the ship on Oct. 13, 2011. The 230-metre ship broke free from its tow vessel before coming to rest along the rocky island.

The shipwrecked bulk carrier broke free of its tow line two years ago off the coast of Cape Breton during a cross-Atlantic voyage and ran aground Scatarie Island, a provincially-protected wilderness area.

The association believes each party during the provincial election campaign should reiterate its position on the province’s responsibilities to the MV Miner.

“At present there seems a clear divide between the NDP, which refuses to spend a dime on a salvage and places all responsibility on federal authorities, and both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, who recognise the political and moral imperative of provincial as well as federal action,” said association committee member Sean Howard.

The Main-a-Dieu Community Development Association’s own position on the MV Miner is its complete removal from the island, followed by a “comprehensive site remediation.”

Howard said from the day the ship ran aground Scatarie it assigned primary blame with the federal government for licensing the towing of the vessel without securing an adequate bond or insurance from the owners.

However, with Ottawa’s inaction, the Nova Scotia government should also be politically and morally obligated to undertake a salvage operation, he said.

The association also asked the new federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt to give the file a “full and fair review.”

Association vice-president Amanda McDougall said she’d like to see the same provincial and federal government co-operation as was the case when it came to fixing the damaged Gabarus seawall.

“Recent statements by Minister Raitt promising a 'decision' on a possible salvage are encouraging, though it's important she hear not just from her own officials but also the community, the province and other interested parties,” McDougall said.

The Greek ocean-going tug Hellas was towing the MV Miner to Turkey on Sept. 20, 2011, when its line broke free and the ship ran aground on the shores of Scatarie Island.

The province has maintained the wreck is a federal responsibility while Ottawa has indicated it poses no hazard to either navigation or the environment.

A New York-based salvage company attempted a salvage job but the company walked away, claiming government bureaucratic hurdles.

Organizations: NDP, Progressive Conservatives

Geographic location: Scatarie Island, Cape Breton, Ottawa Nova Scotia Gabarus Turkey

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