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