The NDP’s federal environment critic Megan Leslie said she has read Marine Atlantic’s explanation of the sale of two former gulf ferries, but she’s not satisfied with the answer.
The controversy about the sale of the vessels was raised after The Gulf News obtained photos of the ferries formerly known as the MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood and the MV Caribou beached at
. Alang, India
The photos confirmed what had been rumored for weeks - that the ferries had gone directly from North Sydney to the beaches at
to be broken down for scrap. Alang, India
Alang has a reputation for unsafe working conditions and unsound environmental practices, and that presents a problem according to MP Leslie.
She said legally,
has laws against the
disposal of ships in this sort of manner. Canada
“There are practically no labour standards and no environmental standards,” said MP Leslie of the yard at Alang. “What this says to me is this government agency is getting around the rules we have in place in
Canada doing something that
we would never allow to happen in by shipping our problem
In a 7-page document released by Marine Atlantic last Wednesday, the Crown corporation gave a detailed account of how it went about selling the two ferries.
The document disclosed that the MV Caribou was sold for $3.875 million and the MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood was sold for $3.8 million.
said one stipulation of the sale was that any dismantling of the ships would be
done in a “green” facility up to International Marine Organization (IMO)
For the opposition critic, the green disposal clause in the sale contract points to a bigger problem.
“If they knew enough to put it in as a term of sale, then they knew enough to know it might be breached and they knew enough to know these ships might end up on a beach in India,” said MP Leslie.
The ships were sold to two separate buyers but ownership changed hands within a few months to a single owner called Best Oasis Limited of
Until last week, Best Oasis Limited’s website had the Caribou and the Smallwood listed under its list of achievements. Some ships under the achivements list had a date under the heading “date beached” although the Caribou and Smallwood did not.
Sometime last week, that list was replaced with an email address and a notice telling readers to write the address for more information on the company’s achievements.
In its explanation of the sale, Marine Atlantic said the buyers’ failure to have the ships recycled at a “green” shipbreaking facility “would constitute a breach of the terms of sale and Marine Atlantic will consider its options up to and including legal action.”
said it did not recycle the vessels itself because it would not fit into its
business model and the corporation lacks the expertise to do such work.
The Smallwood, left, and the Caribou are beached side by side at
The corporation said it did not pay to have the vessels recycled because it was seeking the best financial return for the people of
MP Leslie wondered if the federal government might have found opportunity in developing a green shipbreaking industry in
especially in light of 2 multi-billion dollar shipbuilding contracts recently
“I don’t know if that is feasible but it is worth exploring,” she said.
She also noted the shipbuilding contracts are to replace aging military vessels. She said if it’s too late to do something about the ferries, the federal government needs to make plans so outgoing military vessels are disposed of properly.
While Marine Atlantic has said legal action is a possibility, MP Leslie said she doesn’t see that as a realistic option considering the potential cost.
What she would like to see is the problem addressed so that this doesn’t happen to more Canadian vessels.
“You don’t get to say ‘I don’t want to deal with our rules so I’m going to ship our problem overseas.’ That’s not actually the moral or ethical thing to do. It is our problem because they’re our vessels.”
Source: Gulf News. 7 November 2011http://www.gulfnews.ca/News/2011-11-07/article-2797655/Federal-opposition-questions-disposal-of-ferries/1