MV Miner to be removed from Scatarie Island

A ship that's been stranded off the coast of Cape Breton for more than eight months will be removed by a New York-based salvage company starting next month.

The Bennington Group will dismantle and remove the wreck of the MV Miner, which has been stranded on Scatarie Island since it ran aground in September.

Abe Shah, chief operating officer of the Bennington Group, said he expects about 60 workers to be involved in the operation.

"Bennington is a joint venture. We take our money through the scrap — the scrapping of the vessel," he told CBC News on Wednesday.

A Greek tugboat was towing the MV Miner, which is owned by Arvina Navigation, on Sept. 20 when its line broke and the ship ran aground. The ship, a retired Great Lakes bulk carrier, was on its way from Montreal to Turkey where it was to be scrapped.

Shah said the MV Miner will be taken apart and loaded on a barge. The scrap will then be taken to Port Hawkesbury where it will be sent by rail to buyers in Canada and the U.S.

He said although lobster fishermen are currently at work, this is the best time to do the job because it would be too difficult in the winter and hurricane seasons.

"The fishing season, that is something we can talk about and is under human control," said Shah.

"That's why we want to work with the fishing community."

Bill Smith, a spokesman with the provincial Department of Natural Resources, said he's confident a satisfactory arrangement can be worked out with fishermen.

Smith said the operation to remove the MV Miner will involve only a minor disruption to the current lobster fishing season.

"It may mean moving traps a little to the left or a little to the right to clear a laneway," he said.

"It wouldn't be expected that there'd be a number of traps taken out of the water, perhaps just a different placement of them."

Bennington Group estimates it will take between two and three months to complete the job. The company expects to recover the $1-million cost of removing the wreck in scrap sales.

Removal won't cost taxpayers

Transport Canada has said removal of the ship is the responsibility of its owners and it was monitoring the situation to ensure it didn't pose a significant hazard to navigation.

John MacDonell, acting minister of natural resources, said the province wants the wreck removed before hurricane season begins and it is acting to protect the environment and the fishery in the area.

"Nova Scotians want to see this vessel removed from our shoreline and they want to see it removed at no cost to taxpayers," he said in a statement.

The government said the Bennington Group is experienced in large scale projects and has been involved in dismantling a U.S. aircraft carrier, floating barges and scrapping other ocean-going vessels.

Scatarie Island is a provincially designated protected area and a wildlife management area located just off Cape Breton's eastern shore.

The province said it has approved the plan to remove the wreck in consultation with the federal government.

With files from The Canadian Press