06 August 2017

Sydport to host shipbreaking of former navy ships


SYDPORT, N.S. — A $12.6-million federal tender for the dismantling of two former Canadian Navy ships has been awarded to Marine Recycling Corp., which will do the work at Sydport Industrial Park.

The project, which is expected to take 18 months to complete, will result in 35 direct jobs and 35 spinoff jobs, Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking said in making the announcement at Sydport Friday, with the first of the two ships, the HMCS Preserver, in the background.

The Preserver arrived at Sydport Friday morning. The shipbreaking tender was awarded in June and also involved the former research vessel CFAV Quest, which will arrive later.

Internationally, shipbreaking is an industry with a reputation for poor environmental practices.

Wayne Elliott, director of business development with Marine Recycling Corp., said his company was the first ISO-certified company doing this sort of work and is the oldest ship recycler in the world.

“I think this is … ship number 134 with no accidents, no insurance claims, no loss of vessels and so it’s a pretty good track record and we have no intention of changing that,” Elliott said.

Anything that is deemed to be hazardous waste — such as hydrocarbons, batteries or chemicals — is removed from the vessel prior to it being towed, in accordance with federal regulations.

“The hydrocarbons are usually the biggest environmental carnage so there aren’t any on the ship and our goal as always is not a drop of waste in the water and not a drop of hydrocarbons on the ground,” he said.

Asbestos is not considered hazardous waste but rather a dangerous material. Elliott said there is likely little onboard Preserver because the ship went through a refit.

Mike Stege, a project manager with the Department of National Defence, said monthly inspections will be done of the site. As well, quality assurance representatives from the Department of National Defence will be on site 24 hours a day, said Russ Passmore, manager of the marine in-service support division with Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Elliott said the company is always trying to improve its practices and plans to try some new technology in the work at Sydport. It will submit its plans to the Departments of Defence and Public Services and they will have to be notified of any changes.

The ballast water that was used in the tow will be treated to ensure hydrocarbons have been removed. The initial work will take place inside the ship, sampling components such wires, devices and paint and could begin soon. They will also have to hire and train employees.

“Safety is truly first, it has to be — the safety of our people and crews and subcontractors, safety of the public at large … and safety of the environment,” Elliott said.

Dismantling will begin while the ship is still in the water and then it will be brought onshore later.

Elliott, who is based in Port Colborne, Ont., said the company has long wanted a location on the ocean. Transporting a vessel from the East Coast to its ship recycling facility located on Lake Eerie requires travelling two sets of canals and locks, which is expensive.

The company is at a competitive disadvantage to try to draw ocean ships into the Great Lakes, Elliott said, although it has tackled submarines and a destroyer there.

Eyking said he believes this contract could lead to additional work locally.

“We see a future down the road with other vessels and decommissioning that we will be able to do here in the future,” Eyking said. “So we’re not just looking at a short-term industry here, we’re looking at a long-term industry which bodes well in this whole industrial park here.”

Source: capebreton post.

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