Saturday, 26 September 2015

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We are constantly getting new people asking questions about Manolis L situation. Here are a few of the common questions.

What is the Manolis L? Manolis L is a paper carrier that sunk with a full load of cargo in January 1985 after going aground at Blow Hard Rock in Notre Dame Bay. It still sits at the bottom of the ocean with between 500,000 and 600,000 liters of fuel in her hull.

Why is this a concern now? Two years ago during a storm the hull began leaking. It has continued leaking in spite of remediation attempts by the Coast Guard. To our knowledge there are 5 leaks in the hull. 4 have temporary seals and 1 is covered by a cofferdam which collects the oil and is emptied twice a year.

Why aren't the current measures enough? To date they haven't worked. The seals fix a leak then a new one breaks out polluting the ocean. The cofferdam has shifted in the past causing a catastrophic spill. Much of the time the weather and sea conditions are such that nothing can be done when oil spills. Even the operations that empty the cofferdam have been delayed by marine conditions. And there have been spills from the cofferdam during both operations when they emptied it. A new leak was discovered as recent as late November 2014. Oiled seals and birds were seen late December and in January 2015. When the area is covered in ice we cannot know the situation.

Can the oil be removed? Yes. The committee has spoken with experts and there are methods of removal.

Why won't the government remove the oil? We do not know.

Is the issue money? The committee was under the impression that money was the problem however in the past six years nearly a billion dollars has gone unspent by DFO and sent back to the treasury. A fund called SOPF is designed for such a situation as this but our inquiries have had a response that indicates we are time barred from qualifying for those funds.

What will the cost be? This is an unknown. Documents that contain and estimate requested by DFO have the cost blacked out. The Zalinski operation in BC had a budget allotted of 50 million dollars but Gail Shea, minister of DFO indicates that it cost less. She didn't reveal the final tally.

Why won't the owners pay? Isn't it their responsibility? Why do the taxpayers have to? Through much investigation we recently discovered that a settlement was made between the Liberian owners of the Manolis L and the Government of Canada in 1992. This resulted in those owners being released from any further responsibility and left the Government of Canada as the owner of Manolis L. We do not have details of the settlement amount or documents that prove this to be so but that is what documents provided by DFO to our committee indicate is the case.

How rusty is she? Are we sure she will get worse? She is very rusty after 30 years. She is made of cheap thin steel with even thinner steel on the internal supporting structures. The tides and seas in the area are causing stress fractures to form. The hull was only 1/2 inch thick to start. The integrity of the internal structures are unknown but experts say this is the beginning of a rapid period of deterioration.

Isn't bunker c solid in cold water? Experts have checked temperature buoys and the depth of the vessel combined with the water temperatures, which are rising, and have ascertained that this Bunker C becomes liquid as the water warms up. It also mixes with the diesel and that liquifies it as well.

What is the Manolis L Citizen's Response Committee? We are a group of concerned citizens who have organized to lobby to have a permanent solution implemented. We consist of a small group of core members and a large group of affiliated and concerned people including experts in marine biology, oil spills, naval architecture and so on. We are all volunteers. We work on this daily in some way, traveling to meetings and meeting with officials and so on. We are committed to this task.

What will the economical effects be? The entire Notre Dame Bay/Hamilton Sound region will be destroyed ending all fishing, tourism and essentially closing this already vulnerable region. This bay contains rich fishing grounds that sustain the main industry in the area.Collateral damage will be felt throughout the entire province. The ripple effect from destruction of every industry in the threatened communities will cause a catastrophic economic disaster. This will also be a black mark on the country. This will be the largest oil spill in Canadian history and the government will have failed to prevent it.

What will the environmental costs be? In addition to the cod, scallops, shrimps etc in the area the salmon that swim up the fresh water rivers also go through these waters. It is the resting place for many different kinds of sea birds including some that are threatened species and would affect the large sea bird sanctuary located at the Funk Islands which is directly in its path. These birds stop here on their way to places like Nunavut where they are hunted as their country food. This highlights what a far reaching impact a spill will have. The bay is home of the world famous Iceberg Alley and is rich with marine life including humpbacks,orcas, minkes and other whales, giant sea turtles, seals, porpoises and so on.

What is the Art Exhibit?  Over the past year several public events have been held to raise awareness and to allow for commentary and voices to be heard over this matter, that the public feels is a very important one. These include a march, an auction and a concert. With the area being so rich with visual artists, an exhibit was considered an appropriate way to allow their voices to be included. The opportunity to exhibit at the Rogue Gallery at Gallery at the Edge presented itself and co-chair David McConkey organized the event to be held November 7, 2015.  The opening of this event also provides an opportunity for Professor Ian Jones and Kevin Strowbridge to present the scientific analysis that backs up the committee's contention that the only resolution is the remove the oil from Manolis L as a permanent solution.

What can I do to help? Get to know the issue, send letters to Federal Minister Gail Shea of DFO and Minister Leona Aglukkaq of the Environment. Participate in the auction, spread the word and be assured that we are very grateful for your questions and concerns.

How can I find out more? Message us here with any questions or email

Monday, 23 June 2014

Committee Screens Awareness Video to MHA, MP and CCG Reps.

On June 22 the Manolis L Citizen's Response Committee met in Twillingate.  In many ways this was the culmination of all of the committee's work since it had been formed in response to the Department of Fisheries and Ocean's decision to make a temporary solution to the situation with the sunken, leaking cargo ship, the permanent one.  We, the committee, make having the oil removed from this vessel our only goal.

It was a very positive meeting with representatives from each level of government--mayor of Twillingate Gordon Noseworthy, MP Scott Simms and MHA Derrick Dalley present as well as two representatives from the Canadian Coastguard on hand to present their updates on the situation as well as advise us as to operations beginning in the area this week.

It was also an opportunity for the committee to present their awareness video created in part from the ROV videos taken by the underwater vehicle during operations in the past year.

There were many hours of video but we have coordinated the pertinent and important moments of the video with reports in the media from the representatives of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  (Please note that MLCRC did not ever manipulate the video in any way other than clipping appropriate sections and revealing portions where necessary to highlight our point and speeding up one section to fit in the timeframe)

In addition to providing a visual of what the shipwreck looks like instead of being dependent upon the interpretation of government, the video raises many questions about what we're seeing versus what we have been told.

The committee has found that the visual of what is actually happening down there contrasts in many ways with the communication given by officials.  Reports that call big globs of black crude "droplets" have the effect of minimizing the situation for example.

Also--and this is more troubling--a direct quote from a spokesperson in a report based on the October 17 ROV survey that indicates that all is working properly with the cofferdam and neoprene seal while the actual video referred to shows oil leaking (view at approx. minute 4:25)

For the public this raises concerns as to the credibility of what is reported versus what is actually happening.

It also increases the credibility of the reports by locals at that time who were reporting oil but no action being taken.

What is of huge concern is the neglect in the plan that was set in place back in 2013. When the first cofferdam was placed it was supposed to be emptied of its contents that fall during optimal weather conditions. The survey by the ROV showed oil leaking but the oil was never removed.  The shifting of that cofferdam later caused the subsequent pollution from July to the spill on  December 21 and beyond.   This resulted in a more dangerous reactive operation on January 18 when the new version of the cofferdam was placed.

Discussion at the meeting also brought forward the fact that never, in Canadian history, has oil or other pollutants been removed from a sunken ship. There is the idea that crude goes solid at certain temperatures which deems it unnecessary.  This video completely debunks that theory.(While the Zalinski Operation in BC was performed by the Canadian government it is an American Ship and the intent is to be reimbursed by the US Federal Government for costs incurred.)

(Note:  while the video shows this black crude coming out and  going through to the surface, keep in mind that these operations usually occur at optimal weather conditions. During extreme tides or storms, up may not be the direct route the oil takes but rather it follows the tides of the area. The direction shown may not be up and temperatures vary the viscosity of the crude as well. We also can't verify there aren't leaks in other areas of the hull not shown.  A complete survey of the hull has never been done)

The common sense approach to this situation is to remove the oil. With operations starting just a year ago we're already at $700,000 in cost and this will rise as the operations continue. When the hull bursts open the cost will be astronomical.

There is an opportunity that starts here. This is a chance for the Federal government to implement a national policy on ship source oil pollution that involves removing oil from this sunken vessel and mapping other vessels that may pose a threat similar to the work the USA has done in this area. Then when new ships sink the policy would require that owners of these vessels assume responsibility for the cost of permanently removing pollutants so that the government--and the taxpayer--are not responsible.

Notre Dame Bay and Newfoundland cannot wait for such a policy. The seas are merciless and the hull is compromised. The oil is coming out and will continue to.  A cofferdam is catching it not patching it. There are 600,000 liters ready to spill.

Monitoring isn't action.  Monitoring is inaction with eyes.

Meanwhile the video also highlights what the inaction does.  When the oil was not pumped from the original cofferdam as intended, it moved, and the devastation of that small spill is evident.  I direct you to listen carefully to minute 9:24.  Hear the voice of a real victim of our government's missed opportunity to create a real environmental policy, one that starts here with the cleanup of the Manolis L and carries with it the potential to affect real and permanent change nationwide in how we approach these events.

Please watch this video and share it. Awareness is the key to getting the oil removed.

Manolis L Citizens Response Committee

Friday, 13 June 2014

Dear British Columbia; We're with you. A letter from Newfoundland and Labrador

Douglas Channel near Kitimat, BC. Kitimat residents said no
in a Plebiscite but government forges ahead
Ice berg near Manolis L wreckage
where oil has been persistently
spilling for over a year.

Dear British Columbia;

We write to you today from clear across this great country of ours in Notre Dame Bay in Newfoundland. 
We have been watching your battle with the Federal Government of Canada  with regards to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project and how in spite of the disapproval levels of the people of British Columbia it appears that the government will proceed with this dangerous threat to the shores of your beautiful province.

While a great vast land separates us we know that as Canadians,  British Columbians and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have one thing in common.  It is the bond we have with our coastline.  I know that the people of BC cherish their pristine waters and their panoramic views.  I sense that they are people of the land and sea and place, bonded to the ocean and the life and sustenance it offers to the soul, as well as the body.  We too love our waters and are similarly devoted to the ocean and its bounty and beauty.

We write to you today to reassure you that you are on the right path.  We too have negotiated a multi-billion dollar oil industry that involves the transport of crude along our shores.  Yet there is no infrastructure in place to deal with any sort of spill should it occur. We also know that should a spill occur, there will be no real effort to clean it up.

How do we know? 

Because we have a situation here that, while not oil industry related, highlights this government’s indifference to the environmental impact of an oil spill.  You see we have one set to occur at any moment and the government refuses to prevent it.

You may have heard our MP, Mr. Scott Simms and other Newfoundland and Labrador MP’s also,  address the situation with the Manolis L, a sunken freighter leaking off our coast just 3 miles in rich fishing grounds, a tourist haven and more than anything, our home. The entire area will be destroyed and this will have lasting effects on our region and our province.  This ship sank twenty nine years ago and just over a year ago now a storm cracked the hull and oil started to escape.

"It is very clear by their actions in the west and their inaction in the east that this government does not care to listen to its citizens or respect the voices of the people who in great numbers stand up for what they want and know to be right and smart.-MLCRC" 

Knowing that this oil sits there ready to spill and has been persistently leaking into our waters for over a year the government has not removed it. They have chosen to continue with temporary measures that do nothing to ensure that whole amount isn’t deposited into our bay in the next storm or ripped apart by one of the hundreds of icebergs that scrape along our shores in the spring.

The government says they are "monitoring the situation."

We say they’re watching an oil spill.  

Who watches an oil spill and does nothing?  The government of Canada apparently.

And while they monitor, we also watch.

We have watched seabirds die. We have observed sadly as seals who have aspirated  and covered are with the oil panting for breath on the ice floes knowing they will eventually die. We have experienced the sticky crude on our fishing gear and around our fishing boats and properties.  We have no idea what is happening beneath the surface in our food chain.  But if we could watch I am sure we would see similar events unfolding in the depths.

All of that’s just from the few thousand liters that have leaked to date.

Because the scary part is that there are approximately 600,000 liters remaining to spill out.  In fact it will be the largest oil spill in Canadian history when it does.   Even scarier still is that this is but a mere drop compared to what an oil tanker carries.

It is obvious to us that if they choose not to prevent an oil spill that is inevitable in our ocean on the east coast then they’re not going to put any great effort into protecting the west coast. 

If they cared about the environment or the oceans surely they would not leave five hundred tonne of bunker C at the mercy of the mighty Atlantic.

If they cared about the people of either province they would listen to their pleas. Because let’s be honest here, most of the people opposed to your pipeline and for the extraction of the oil at the bottom our bay are not traditional environmentalists.  We’re not activists in the traditional sense. 

We are regular folks, stay at home parents, fishers, farmers, teachers, students,  businessmen, seniors, youngsters, all races and creeds and so on.  We are the regular people, the citizens and most of all we are the  voters.  

Our province is 100% behind removing the oil from the sunken ship as the only resort and your province is somewhere around 65% opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project.   

Yet we are ignored here and your people are ignored there.  When did Enbridge become a voter?  Even our Prime Minister only gets one vote in a general election.

Government should be of the people—all the people—and should put their needs above the agenda of corporations or indeed, of the politicians who are elected if a specific issue warrants it.  

When the people say no, the government should listen. When the people need help, the government should listen, particularly if that government wants to remain the government.

It is my hope that reason and common sense prevails and that the current administration takes care of both of our issues. 

I hope it sees fit to listen to the demands of your people and stop their plan to ship this poison through your waters. I would not want you to have to see oil in the waters out there such as we see in our waters here as this shipwreck defies their weak measures to contain the crude.

Our oil spill is a matter of time—a game of roulette is being played here with our environment and our livelihoods.  Not removing the oil from that sunken cargo ship after an entire year of its leaking is proof to me that should the Enbridge Pipeline go through and should there be a spill, there will be no remedy for you just as there hasn’t been for us.

Perhaps they-the government- hopes that our provinces are far enough apart that you won’t realize what is going on over here in ours or vice versa.  Perhaps they think we cannot make the connection and relate one to the other.

 But we Canadians are closer than geography can determine and we do care for each other and watch out for each other more than they realize.

To the PC Members of Parliament on the government side we ask you to strengthen yourselves and stand together with your citizens.

Remember that the leader of your party will not determine your next term at your desk, the people will.

For a government who invokes the terms reason and rational and common sense in the House of Commons ad nauseam the treatment of both our causes sure shows a remarkable lack of all three.

But their catch phrase “let’s be clear” is quite useful and appropriate.  

It is very clear by their actions in the west and their inaction in the east that this government does not care to listen to its citizens or respect the voices of the people who in great numbers stand up for what they want and know to be right and smart. 

We hope that you are successful at stopping the Northern Gateway Pipeline.   It’s a battle worth fighting as so many of us now know first hand what it’s like to have that black crude wash ashore in the cove where we grew up and the horror of watching seals and seabirds suffer and die from the inaction of an uncaring government. 

I fear the day when the rest of that spill occurs and destroys our bay.  

 I hope that you have success at preventing any such disaster from happening in yours.

We wish you every success with your work on this issue.

 Manolis L Citizens Response Committee 

Oil on the shores Dec 21, 2013

Manolis L in 1985 just before she sank at
Blowhard Rock, Notre Dame Bay NL

Seal that aspirated oil and came ashore with others to die

Based on tides this is the area affected
when the oil spills

Oiled ducks are common-thousands have died.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Update on Committee Business

Oiled Birds that died while Authorities Monitored the situation

Photos by James Gidge, Summerford
We apologize to all for the delay in communications. As volunteers we all have to balance our home, work and volunteer lives. The committee itself has been meeting regularly on a monthly basis and will meet again on June 22 but because most of it was organizing and steering to find our focus we haven't had much to report. with regard to progress but rest assured we have been busy at work.

Co Chair David McConkey has take on the role of letter writer for our campaign and has written many ministers and concerned and involved persons.  We have received response to nearly all of the letters written.

Co Chair Carolyn Parsons has written certain key persons also and is working with some national media sources on further awareness on a larger scale however nothing to report on any outcomes.  Syllables on NTV interviewed Parsons and that should air in June.

All of our work to date has been mostly investigative. And the results of our work will be revealed on June 22.

We are currently scripting a video to be presented at the meeting.

On our agenda The Canadian Coast Guard will update: There was a shoreline assessment team re port and update on plans to address Manolis L Concerns.

Also we expect a provincial update on meeting with Federal Ministers from our MHA Derrick Dalley who is in attendance.

We will end the meeting with a video presentation put together by committee members.  We have constructed this from media reports and other sources so that the public can refer to it for a full and actual sequences of events.

We are open to new members and if you wish to attend the committee meeting it will be June 22/14 at the town hall in Twillingate.

Please email us at

Friday, 18 April 2014

Meeting #2 of MLCRC

On April 13 the second meeting of the Manolis L Citizens Response Committee was held at Change Islands.

Co-chair Carolyn R Parsons did an update on Fisheries Broadcast and our appreciation to Jamie Baker and the CBC team for allowing us the air time to do so. Here is that episode. The Manolis L segment is the first part but I encourage you to listen to the show in its entirety as the second segment is of great import to all Newfoundlanders.

Click link to find player.

Manolis L Committee Update from Second Meeting on Fisheries Broadcast on CBC

Manolis L Citizens Response Committee (MLCRC)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

MHA and Minister for Natural Resources Hon. Derrick Dalley's Position

On February 14, 2014 The Minister of Natural Resources and MHA for The Isles of Notre Dame posted this message on his Face Book page. This is a very encouraging post in the sense that we know we have the member for our district working on our behalf.  On the other hand an update was to be forthcoming and because we haven't heard anything I presume no meeting has of yet been set. This meeting is crucial to our cause and I feel we the public must put pressure on Hon. Minister Gail Shea to meet with Minister Dalley in a very timely manner.  She has agreed so she needs to keep her promise.  

We must also let her know that we expect from that meeting an agreement that the oil MUST be removed from Manolis L.  A draft letter and minister Shea's email address will be forthcoming. We ask all to send her a loud message. We want her to meet with our MHA and we want that meeting to result in the oil being pumped out of Manolis L.

Manolis L Committee Co-Chair
Carolyn R Parsons

Manolis L. Update:
On Monday, I met with John Butler the Canadian Coast Guard Assistant Commissioner, and received an overview of the efforts of the Coast Guard to manage the oil leak from the Manolis L. I would like to acknowledge and thank the Coast Guard for their response time and their efforts to contain the oil leak, despite difficult sea conditions this time of year. Not to be too skeptical, but while this is good news, time will judge the solutions!

It was acknowledged by Mr. Butler that the cooperation of residents has been helpful in their efforts. As indicated publicly, tremendous resources including Coast Guard vessels, staff, and dive teams have provided oversight and vigilance to the oil leak. The Remotely Operated Vehicle has been deployed on 5 different occasions to assess the leaks and the condition of the 600ft hull. The original two cracks remain the only leaking areas and are being managed with the successful neoprene gaskets and a second cofferdam, with a better design and weight to withstand the strong currents. The Coast Guard remains confident that these solutions are effective, safe and address current risks.

According to Mr. Butler, the problematic oil is diesel - approximately 10 % of the oil in the Manolis - the top layer diesel is mixing with the heavier bunker oil thus creating the problem.

I emphasized the concerns of residents, highlighting the potential impact on the marine ecosystem, tourism and local communities. Mr. Butler assured me that the Coast Guard will continue to monitor the site and are confident in their ability to manage the risks with this current approach.

It is my view that Canadian Coast Guard is doing what they can to manage the safety and the risks associated with the oil leak. The question remains, what if? It is this question that begs an answer from the Federal Government.

I have been in contact with the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Hon. Gail Shea. She has agreed to meet with me - we are currently working on a date for this meeting. I will provide updates as things progress.

Make no mistake, this remains a very important issue for me and I will continue to voice our concerns to the people in the Federal Government who make the decisions!