SYDNEY — The real work of removing the MV Miner from the shores of Scatarie Island is about to get underway.
© Steve Wadden - Cape Breton Post
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.
With the impending closure of the local lobster season, the bulk of the work of removing the wreck will begin, said Gary Campbell, president of Nova Scotia Lands.
In consultation with RJ MacIsaac Construction of Antigonish, the successful bidder on the project, the decision was made to wait until the fishing season ended to begin that stage of the project. Since the tender award was announced in late May, efforts have been focused on the preparatory work necessary to proceed with removing the derelict bulk carrier from the protected wilderness area, and most of that regulatory work has been completed.
The province awarded the $11.9-million contract to RJ MacIsaac Construction to remove the wreck.
“It will be gearing up big time on Monday,” Campbell said. “Things are starting to look up. … We’re pretty confident that we’re ready to get up and started.”
Waiting for the lobster season to close only affected the timeline by about a week and avoided the complication of forcing fishermen to move their traps, Campbell said. He said fishermen have co-operated with the removal effort.
About 85 per cent of the demolition is to be conducted from land. Campbell said there will be in-filling in the area between the shore and the ship to allow crews to work from a stable base.
There is currently no cellphone service in the area, so technicians are due on site today to take steps to ensure there will be adequate coverage for people working on the project.
The first health and safety meeting on the project is scheduled for Monday and an office has been set up at the Coastal Discovery Centre in Main-a-Dieu.
A camp will be set up on the island for workers, so regulatory approval for installation of water and sewer services for it had to be sought for the protected area.
A technical advisory committee is in place, including representation from the Canadian Coast Guard and Environment Canada.
Campbell said no unanticipated challenges have been experienced to date and RJ MacIsaac Construction hasn’t reported any difficulty in obtaining qualified workers. In addition to equipment operators, cooks and labourers will be needed. Local fishermen will also help transport people to the site by boat. Department of Natural Resources helicopters, as well as helicopters from a private company, will also be available.
“There are some pretty good companies already here in the Sydney area, construction companies with heavy equipment and that kind of thing,” Campbell said.
The shipwrecked bulk carrier broke free of its towline as it was being hauled by a Greek oceangoing tug across the Atlantic to Turkey in 2011, where it was to be used for scrap. It's been stranded in the protected wilderness area ever since.
Premier Stephen McNeil had promised to go ahead with the removal during the provincial election campaign.
A previous attempt by a New York-based company to salvage the MV Miner resulted in the company walking away from the job, blaming government bureaucratic hurdles it said were put in place by the previous NDP government.