POLITICS

After eight months aground, shipwreck to be removed from Nova Scotia island

05/30/2012 05:24 EDT | Updated 07/30/2012 05:12 EDT
HALIFAX - A ship that's been stranded on Scatarie Island off Nova Scotia for more than eight months will be removed by a New York-based salvage company.

The Nova Scotia government says the Bennington Group will dismantle and remove the wreck of the MV Miner, which is owned by Arvina Navigation.

A Greek tugboat was towing the MV Miner on Sept. 20 when its line broke and the ship ran aground.

The ship, a retired Great Lakes bulk carrier, was on its way from Montreal to Turkey, where it was to be scrapped.

Transport Canada has said removal of the ship is the responsibility of its owners and it was monitoring the situation to ensure it didn't pose a significant hazard to navigation.

A government spokesman said the Bennington Group expects to recover the $1 million cost of removing the wreck in scrap sales. The work is scheduled to begin in June and take two to three months.

John MacDonell, acting minister of natural resources, said the province wants the wreck removed before hurricane season begins and it is acting to protect the environment and the fishery in the area.

"Nova Scotians want to see this vessel removed from our shoreline, and they want to see it removed at no cost to taxpayers," he said.

The government says the Bennington Group is experienced in large scale projects and has been involved in dismantling a U.S. aircraft carrier, floating barges and scrapping other ocean-going vessels.

Abe Shah, chief operating officer of the Bennington Group, said he expects about 60 workers to be involved in the operation.

"We have the skill and expertise to safely remove the wreck and look forward to working with the fishermen and the community to help ensure the lucrative fishing grounds and the environment are protected for future generations," he said in a statement.

Scatarie Island is a provincially designated protected area and a wildlife management area located just off Cape Breton's eastern shore.

Shah said the MV Miner will be dismantled in sections and barged to Port Hawkesbury, N.S., where it will be shipped by rail to buyers in Canada and the United States.

The province says it has approved the plan to remove the wreck in consultation with the federal government.