Coast guard official says rate of seepage very slow
Officials with the Canadian Coast Guard prepare a neoprene gasket aboard the Anne Harvey, which was lowered to the sunken Manolis L to prevent an oil leak in May.
— Submitted photo
It appears the federal government spoke too soon when it reported late last month there was no more oil leaking from the wreck of a ship in Notre Dame Bay.
While a weighted neoprene gasket has successfully sealed a leak in the Manolis L, Canadian Coast Guard senior response officer Bob Grant says a small leak has been detected near the bow of the ship.
Grant told The Telegram Monday that the leak is located approximately 100 feet from where the seal was applied in May. He said the leak is coming from an extensively damaged section of the bow — damage the ship would have sustained when it sank in 1985.
“This (seepage) is very small,” Grant said. “If it’s a calm sea state, you’ll get to see this very light sheen that’s not recoverable, and if there’s either kind of wave action, you don’t see anything.”
A seal integrity check was completed in late June, at which time another full survey of the area was scheduled “to see if anything else was going on,” according to Grant.
At the time of the check, an email from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans stated that no oil was detected on the surface. It did however go on to say that the coast guard was still evaluating the remotely operated vehicle’s (ROV) survey of the hull.
Video taken by the ROV showed small droplets of oil coming from the damaged area of the bow.
While he could not offer an exact estimate for the rate at which oil is seeping from the bow leak, Grant said the droplets appeared to be the size of a teaspoon.
Grant said applying another weighted seal is not an option, so next week the coast guard will install a coffer dam. The device operates similarly to an inverted funnel.
“It will have a metal chute on the bottom where as the little droplets rise, it’ll get captured into the chute and this hose will come to within 30 feet of the surface, and as the oil gathers there, it will eventually displace any water.”
In the early fall, the coast guard will send a diver to see how much oil has been collected in the hose. If necessary, the oil will be pumped out of the hose at that time.
Grant said next week’s planned installation of the coffer dam will be weather-dependent. Once the installation is completed, Grant said the coast guard and other government agencies and departments will begin to look at long-term solutions.
As a precautionary measure, the coast guard is also looking at setting up a bird hazing device before the coffer dam is installed. This would help keep birds away from the area.
Grant said crews who were in the area last month did not encounter any oil-covered birds.
A local resident told The Telegram in June he spotted several oiled murres in the area.
The Manolis L sank in an area known as Blow Hard Rock between Bacalao Island and Change Islands and now lies 82 metres below the surface.