POLITICS

Work to remove ship grounded off Cape Breton to begin within week, company says

09/04/2012 12:27 EDT | Updated 11/04/2012 05:12 EST
HALIFAX - Work to dismantle a decommissioned ship that ran aground off Cape Breton a year ago should begin within the next week, the company in charge of the salvage operation said Tuesday.

Abe Shah, a senior partner with the Bennington Group, said the New York-based company has submitted a revised plan to the province for the removal of the MV Miner from Scatarie Island.

Shah said the company is now waiting for safety inspections to be completed before the work can start — something he said he hopes would be done within the next five to six days.

He said the new plan would see the 230-metre bulk carrier cut into bigger pieces than originally planned in order to expedite its removal during the Atlantic hurricane season.

Shah said two heavy industrial steel cutters would be used and the work would be conducted during daylight hours seven days a week, weather permitting.

He said it should take about 30 days to remove the vessel if all goes well.

Last week, the provincial government extended the company's permit until Dec. 1 to remove the derelict ship, which ran aground on Sept. 20, 2011, while being towed to a scrapyard in Turkey. The original deadline expired Aug. 31 after several delays.

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter has called on Ottawa to take a greater leadership role in ensuring the ship's removal, but Transport Canada says its approval isn't needed for the work to proceed.

The ship's removal has been a politically sensitive issue in Nova Scotia because the wreck lies in a protected wilderness area that is surrounded by rich lobster grounds.