POLITICS

Three month extension given for salvage of ship stranded off Cape Breton

09/01/2012 11:03 EDT | Updated 11/01/2012 05:12 EDT
HALIFAX - A salvage company has been granted a three month extension to remove a derelict ship that ran aground off Cape Breton almost a year ago.

Dan Davis, a spokesman with the Department of Natural Resources, said Saturday that New York-based Bennington Group has been given until Dec. 1 to remove the MV Miner, which has been stuck off Scatarie Island since Sept. 20, 2011.

The 230-metre Great Lakes bulk carrier was being towed to a scrapyard in Turkey when its tow line broke in heavy seas.

Davis said the salvage company had committed to removing the ship entirely in work expected to begin sometime this month.

However, he said the removal would be weather-dependent with the peak of hurricane season fast approaching.

"We may see some storm activity and of course there may be some periods of time when the company won't be operating if we see some serious storms," said Davis.

He said the company received the extension after submitting a revised work plan that would see it break up the ship into larger pieces than originally planned.

Scatarie Island is a protected wilderness area that is surrounded by lucrative lobster grounds.

On Friday, two federal New Democrats cited environmental concerns in asking Transport Canada to take a leadership role in the removal of the vessel.

Toronto MP Olivia Chow and Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer told a news conference the ship remained a threat to local lobster fishing and a risk to the ecosystem and needed to be removed as quickly as possible.

However, Transport Canada said the project didn't need federal approval to proceed and a spokesman said the government is encouraging the Bennington Group to move forward with the demolition as quickly as possible.