25 November 2011

No plans to free MV Miner:

SYDNEY — There’s no change in the federal government’s stand on the MV Miner, which has been stranded on the shores of Scatarie Island for 2 months.

Speaking after the dedication ceremony for the MV Highlanders, Minister of State for Transportation Steven Fletcher reiterated past points made by the federal government on the derelict bulk carrier.

“I communicated that the federal government has 2 primary responsibilities,” Fletcher said of a meeting last week with an all-party delegating from Nova Scotia.

“One is to ensure that waterways remain navigable, and secondly, that the environmental impact would be minimized.”

Fletcher said the 230-metre ship is not a navigational hazard and that any potential pollutants have been removed.

The minister said progress on the issue was made during the “thoughtful discussion.”

“We’ve also, I thought, had a very good discussion on how to keep one another informed and how we can work together, but also on a go-forward basis to review legislation both federally and provincially for any potential proactive measures that can be taken to deal with this type of situation in the future.”

Transport Canada is investigating to see if any legal action can be taken against the ship owner or the tug company, Fletcher said.

Questions turned from ships that could be recycled to those that already have been recycled during Fletcher’s meeting with reporters.

Marine Atlantic’s new vessels — the MV Highlanders and the MV Blue Puttees  — replaced the MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood and the MV Caribou, which ended up in a controversial ship-breaking yard in India.

Fletcher said the federal government feels no responsibility for the final destination of the two ships.

“The disposal of ships are operational decisions of Marine Atlantic,” he said. “They complied with international marine organization guidelines and once you sold a ship and it gets resold and resold, it is tough.”

Wayne Follett president of Marine Atlantic, said the corporation followed a comprehensive process of public tendering to select an international broker to sell the vessels.

“I’ve heard varying assessments of the yard they are in,” said Follett.

“We are currently, through the broker, having some monitoring conducted of that yard to see in fact how they do proceed to recycle the vessels and in fact whether they follow the green recycling rules. At this point in time we have no evidence to the contrary.”

Having the vessels recycled in an environmentally friendly yard was part of the sales agreement, Follett said.

If evidence surfaces that they were not recycled in a green manner, Marine Atlantic’s legal counsel will be consulted.

“In the end it will come down to a monetary question because they will have been recycled and whether there is value in us pursuing a monetary penalty,” he said. “We haven’t gone to that yet because we haven’t completed any monitoring of the project.”

Source: The Cape Breton Post. By Greg McNeil (gmcneil@cbpost.com). 24 November 2011

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