Manolis L cleanup a success, say federal officials

Eddy Kennedy/CBC

The Manolis L saga is coming to an end after 33 years as crews have begun offloading oil from the sunken ship in St. John's on Tuesday.

The Canadian Coast Guard announced on Saturday that bulk oil pumping operations were complete, after salvage vessel Tidewater Enabler pumped oil from the wreck sunk under 70 metres of water near Change Islands, on Newfoundland's northeast coast.

Salvage crews are still tallying exactly how much oil they were able to retrieve from the sunken paper carrier.

"We're very happy with the outcome, and we're confident that the risk of a significant release of pollution from the Manolis L has been eliminated," said Anne Miller, regional director of the Canadian Coast Guard and incident commander on the cleanup.

Eddy Kennedy/CBC

"We haven't had the exact amount quantified yet. That will be done through the offloading process and provided to us in the official report from Ardent Global, our salvage company."

What's left?

When the ship went down in 1985, the Manolis L could have been carrying up to 600,000 litres of oil on board. Some escaped during the sinking, more leaked out roughly five years ago after a large storm disturbed the wreck's resting place.

A Coast Guard survey in 2016 said there were between 115,000 and 150,000 litres left on board.

Miller said there is very little oil left in the hull of the wreck, "just residual, that is impossible to remove, but we're confident that the bulk oil has been completely removed."

The coast guard will continue to monitor the wreck in case there are any more instances of oil leaking from the ship's hull, however, the cleanup is essentially complete.

What next?

After two months and millions of dollars being sunk into the oil retrieval process, something Miller says is the first of it's type, the cost is still being tallied.

Contracts and preliminary coast guard figures put the operation at roughly $23 million since 2016.

Eddy Kennedy/CBC

"The safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment are two of the Canadian Coast Guard's priorities," said Miller.

"We've known for a while, as has the Newfoundland public, that that was a concern and a risk. We're very happy that it's over."

As for the oil itself, waste oil goes for about 30 cents a litre, and could fetch about $45,000 according to the processing company.

With files from Here and Now

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