Main-a-Dieu residents enouraged by prep work for removal of MV Miner

Published on August 6, 2014

The MV Miner is seen from aboard the Kenny's Pride fishing boat following a Scatarie Island church service Sunday. Main-a-Dieu residents are encouraged by preparation work for the removal of the derelict vessel.

Sharon Montgomery-Dupe - Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY — Ongoing preparation work for the removal of the MV Miner is giving hope to Main-a-Dieu residents that the derelict vessel will soon be gone from the coastline of nearby Scatarie Island.

Controversey, including jurisdictional and logistical issues, has surrounded the abandoned vessel since it ran aground on the north shore of Scatarie Island almost three years ago.

The decommissioned Canadian lake freighter was being towed by a Greek tugboat from Montreal to Turkey, where it was to be scrapped, in September 2011 when the towline snapped during a gale.

Julian O’Neil of the Main-a-Dieu Coastal Discovery Centre said residents of the small fishing community are excited to finally see signs of work on the removal project.

“It’s a terrible eyesore and it has been in our backyard for almost three years now,” said O’Neil. “It will be nice to finally see it removed when that time does come.”

O’Neil said there has been recent activity on and around the island, which has been a provincially designated wildlife management area since 1976.

“We’ll be a little more excited when we see the ship being taken away,” he said.

The removal project is being overseen by Nova Scotia Lands, a Crown corporation with a mandate to remediate and redevelop government-owned properties.

In May of 2014, it was announced that Antigonish-based RJ MacIsaac Construction had been awarded the $12-million contract to remove the MV Miner.

Nova Scotia Lands president Gary Campbell said now that lobster season is over, preparation work necessary for the project has begun and is on schedule.

“There are a couple of minor regulatory issues to overcome yet but we don’t see anything that is a showstopper at this point,” said Campbell.

Rock and stone, intended for use on a new breakwater, is now being transported to Scatarie Island by barge from Louisbourg and a base camp that is being constructed on the island, whose last permanent residents left in 1957.

“We realized that moving people and equipment back and forth wasn’t going to work, so it made ultimate sense to build a camp out there and work right on the site,” said Campbell, who added that the camp should be completed within three weeks.

Once all the preparatory work is completed, Campbell said crews will work on removing the remaining asbestos from the ship before cutting the vessel up and transporting the scrap steel to Sydney to be sold.

A target date of mid-November has been set for the completion of the project, but Campbell admits that uncertain maritime weather may jeopardize the timeline.

“We had fog so bad last week our helicopter could only make one trip out to the island and, of course, there are predictions of another storm coming up the coast,” he said.

“It would be very costly for the contractor to have to remobilize in the spring so they are quite anxious to get out there and get at it,” said Campbell.

A public information meeting will be held at the Main-a-Dieu Coastal Discovery Centre on Thursday at 6 p.m. when Nova Scotia Lands and RJ MacIsaac Construction representatives will be on hand to discuss the project.

Miner details

• Commissioned in 1966 as MV Maplecliffe Hall.

• Acquired by Canada Steamship Lines in 1988 and renamed MV Le Moyne.

• Acquired by Upper Lakes Shippinig in 1994 and renamed MV Canadian Miner.

• Sold to Arvina Navigation of Turkey in 2011 and renamed MV Miner for her final trip.

• Ran aground on Scatarie Island in September 2011 after towline snapped during a gale.

• Canadian government denies responsibility for paying clean-up cost, even though the tow was operating under federal shipping regulations.

• Contaminants and floatable materials removed from vessel in fall of 2011.

• Bennington Group of New York contracted to remove ship in 2012 but work never started.

• Storms rip open several large holes in hull during winter of 2012.

• RJ MacIssac Construction of Antigonish contracted to do the job in May 2014 at a cost of $12 million.